LINGUIST List 23.3312

Sat Aug 04 2012

Review: Sociolinguistics: Díaz-Campos (2011)

Editor for this issue: Monica Macaulay <>

Date: 04-Aug-2012
From: Whitney Chappell <>
Subject: The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics
E-mail this message to a friend

Discuss this message

Announced at
EDITOR: Manuel Díaz-CamposTITLE: The Handbook of Hispanic SociolinguisticsSERIES TITLE: Blackwell Handbooks in LinguisticsPUBLISHER: Wiley-BlackwellYEAR: 2011

Whitney Chappell, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Ohio State University


The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics includes 35 chapters onsociolinguistic topics across dialects of Spanish from 42 different contributinglinguists. After a brief introduction by the editor, the chapters are dividedinto six broad sections: Phonological Variation; Morphosyntactic Variation;Language, the Individual, and the Society; Spanish in Contact; Spanish in theUnited States, Heritage Language, L2 Spanish; and Language Policy/Planning,Language Attitudes and Ideology.

The first section on phonological variation explores different approaches toinvestigating internal and external phonological change in Latin America and Spain.

The first chapter, “Laboratory Approaches to Sound Variation and Change” byLaura Colantoni, discusses the importance of experimental techniques insociophonetics and explores previous research that has utilized thesetechniques. A review of the literature on vocalic, consonantal, and prosodicvariation is included, and Colantoni highlights the areas in which laboratoryresearch is lacking, e.g. studies on nasal and affricate variation. Finally, theauthor advises that experimental work must be rooted in theoretical approaches,allowing linguists to test theories about sound change.

Antonio Medina-Rivera’s “Variationist Approaches: External Factors ConditioningVariation in Spanish Phonology” presents a review of the literature on socialfactors of importance to Spanish variation and discusses the external factorsfound to be the most relevant across studies in Hispanic sociolinguistics, suchas gender, class, and age. Stylistic factors, such as careful vs. casual speech,task, and topic are found to also influence variation, and in spite of thecomplications social factors may bring to a study, the author argues that athorough analysis of extralinguistic factors is crucial to understanding thephonological variation at work across dialects.

Chapter three, “Internal Factors Conditioning Variation in Spanish Phonology” byFrancisco Moreno-Fernández, addresses linguistically-based hypotheses andtendencies in processes of variation and sound change. Distributional factors,such as syllable position, contextual factors, such as the assimilation ordissimilation of two sounds, and external factors such as contact with otherlanguages all play an important role. Based on the tendencies in Spanish,Moreno-Fernández creates a hypothetical strength hierarchy of the influence ofinternal factors on phonological variation: distributional factors > contextualfactors > grammatical factors > lexical factors > markedness factors > naturalfactors (59).

In Chapter four, “Socio-phonological Variation in Latin American Spanish”, JohnM. Lipski explores the robust phonological variation in Latin America, focusingon the processes that most commonly affect syllable onsets (/d/, /tʃ/, /ʎ/, /s/,and voiced stops), nuclei (vowel raising, reduction, and syllabic consonants),and codas (/s/, /r/, /l/, and nasals), along with a brief review of some notableprosodic variation across dialects. Lipski describes the geographical variationalong with a broad view of the phonological and social factors that have beenknown to influence phonological variation.

In “Sociophonological Variation and Change in Spain” (Chapter 5), José AntonioSamper Padilla discusses issues similar to those in Chapter four with a focus onSpain. The author addresses the variation that commonly takes place across Spainfor syllable-final /s/, /r/, and /n/, intervocalic /d/, variation between /s/and /θ/ in Andalusia, and variable frication or affrication of /tʃ/ in EasternAndalusia. He also provides frequency breakdowns of the realizations of thevariants and a brief analysis of the social factors most predictive ofvariation: sex, age, or sociocultural level.

The second section of the handbook investigates morphosyntactic variation inSpanish.

This section begins in Chapter six with a contribution from Scott A. Schwenter,entitled “Variationist Approaches to Spanish Morphosyntax: Internal and ExternalFactors”. Schwenter first addresses the emergence of morphosyntactic variationstudies and the early challenges they faced when compared to studies onphonological variation. The author then turns to several case studies onvariation of epistemic adverbs and mood choice, accusative ‘a’, and ‘lo’/øvariation to determine the factors most predictive of the morphosyntacticvariants. Some of his main findings include the fact that temporal referencegreatly influences mood choice, animacy of subject and direct object (DO)constrain accusative ‘a’ use, and both interrogative and negative sentencescondition ‘lo’/ø variation. Schwenter notes that limited research on externalfactors is available but that Reig Alamillo (2009) finds age, education andgender significant factors in null DO realizations.

In Chapter seven, Rena Torres Cacoullos addresses “Variation andGrammaticalization”, whereby grammatical constructions emerge from discoursepatterns as speakers choose between different forms with related discoursefunctions. The author discusses the process in which retention of a form’searlier meaning occurs followed by generalization, which in turn leads togrammaticalization. She focuses on tense-aspect-mood variation, progressive‘estar’ + verb(ndo), and preterit vs. present perfect use before discussing thefate of the older forms. Ultimately, Torres Cacoullos promotes a variationistmethod to investigate grammaticalization in progress through frequency changeswithin a community.

“Morphosyntactic Variation in Spanish-Speaking Latin America” (Chapter eight) byPaola Bentivoglio and Mercedes Sedano offers a targeted analysis of LatinAmerican morphosyntactic variation, presenting the conclusions from studiesexploring eight specific phenomena: the variation is discussed between (1)‘para’-‘pa’, (2) ‘aquí’-‘acá’ and ‘allí’-‘allá’, (3), non-pluralized andpluralized ‘haber’, (4) synthetic and analytic future constructions; and ananalysis of factors conditioning (5) relative ‘que’, (6) pseudocleftconstructions with ‘ser’, (7) dequeísmo, and (8) queísmo across dialects ofLatin America. After reviewing the literature on these subjects, the authorsconclude that while one form’s use may vary quantitatively by sociolinguisticlevels, it will hardly ever vary qualitatively, and other than ‘í’ and ‘á’demonstratives, a functional explanation can be applied to the changes in LatinAmerican dialects in spite of the education and attitudinal pressures againstthe functional solutions.

In Chapter 9, “Morphosyntactic Variation in Spain”, María José Serrano exploresthe issues raised by earlier chapters in this section, but with a focus onvariation within Spain. Serrano briefly reviews the literature on mood choice,-ra/-se variation in the imperfect subjunctive, simple versus progressive futureuse, subject expression, dequeísmo, present perfect and preterit variation,verbal periphrasis, leísmo, clitic duplication, and terms of address. The authorthen explains the insufficiency of analyzing one form’s use over another withoutan analysis of the discourse-pragmatic factors that condition its use. Even so,she argues that these discourse-pragmatic approaches are not sufficient, andinitiative or cognitive approaches that emphasize the speaker’s agency increating or shifting characteristics (see Aijón Olivia 2008) better explain thecognitive mechanisms at work in morphosyntactic variation. The author calls forfuture studies to take into consideration semantic-pragmatic factors, style, andcognitive perspectives.

Part III investigates “Language, the Individual, and the Society”.

The section begins with a contribution from Richard Cameron entitled “Aging,Age, and Sociolinguists” (Chapter 10). In this chapter, Cameron discussesdiscursive construction, indexicality, and constraints on variable realization;however, he notes that in the field of Hispanic sociolinguistics, little workhas been done outside of analyzing age in relation to variable constraintbehavior. Age within sociolinguistics has been primarily helpful in determiningchanges in progress within a dialect, as older speakers may behave differentlythan younger speakers in apparent time studies with respect to voiced ordevoiced /ž/, intervocalic /d/ realization, or coda /s/ realization, among otherexamples. Cameron notes that age can also represent the identity of the speakeror inferred ideologies based on speech, and much more information is neededabout the aging process to have a thorough understanding of age and aging’srelationship with speech.

Chapter 11 is “Gender and Variation: Word-final /s/ in Men’s and Women’s Speechin Puerto Rico’s Western Highlands” by Jonathan Holmquist, a discussion ofdivergences in men and women’s phonological behavior in Castañer Spanish.Holmquist notes a tendency across dialects of Spanish for women to avoid thestigmatized variant and promote prestigious linguistic change. In his data,Holmquist finds similar /s/-deletion rates and constraints for men and women:there is greater deletion before a pause, less deletion before consonants, andthe lowest rate before vowels. An analysis of genders across age groups showedinteresting results, as younger males appear to delete /s/ more before vowels,while younger women are less likely to delete in this position. When professionsare taken into account, teachers are more conservative in their /s/-deletionthan business people, who are in turn more conservative than farmers, and womenin each group delete /s/ less than their male counterparts. Holmquist concludesthat young women with open social ties resist /s/-deletion, particularly beforevowels, as the youngest generation has been more socially separated by genderthan the middle class and older generations (see Cameron 2005).

In Chapter 12, Diane R. Uber explores “Forms of Address: The Effect of theContext”, first explaining the forms’ historical development out of Latin. Uberthen presents a study on Bogotá, Colombia terms of address, in which she findsvariability of use between the ‘tú’ (T) and ‘Ud.’ (U) forms: certain placesincluded in her study preferred U, while other places preferred T. However, inspite of the variability, a power dynamic still seemed to exist between theforms, as illustrated by asymmetrical T/U forms of address, which Uber frameswithin Brown and Levinson (1987)’s politeness theory. Additionally, Uber findsthat while there are differences in terms of address across the many dialects ofSpanish, there are also some consistencies: ‘Usted’ is generally used with thosehaving a perceived high status, older individuals, and strangers, while ‘tú’ or‘vos’ is employed among those who have known or worked with each other for atime, and the determining factors for selection are power, on the one hand, andsolidarity, on the other.

Manuel Díaz-Campos discusses “Becoming a Member of the Speech Community:Learning Socio-phonetic Variation in Child Language” in Chapter 13, in which hefirst explores children’s variation in word-final /ɾ/ and intervocalic /ð/production in Spanish. Díaz-Campos (2001, 2004, 2006) finds that while youngerchildren produce the norms in their direct social environment, approximatingdeletion levels that are normal for their parents’ social class, by age 4;5 thelower-class children begin to reverse deletion patterns, approximating the moreconservative dialect of Spanish spoken in schools. Díaz-Campos concludes thatthe acquisition of socio-phonetic variation occurs early on in the speech ofchildren in both Spanish and English, and as children learn the social meaningsassociated with variants in the adult model, they begin to construct identitiesbased on language use in the speech community. The author notes that morestudies should focus on child-directed speech to better understand the adultmodels with which children are presented.

“The Relationship between Historical Linguistics and Sociolinguistics” by DonaldN. Tuten and Fernando Tejedo-Herrero (Chapter 14) discusses the goals andmethods of the new hybrid field of historical sociolinguistics along with thechallenges it faces. While traditional historical linguistics tends to downplaythe importance of social variation, historical sociolinguistics seeks to explainsocial variation and change historically through agentive speaker choices acrossvaried social contexts. Even given the limitations of the historical data, someapproaches have been particularly successful. For example, the sociophilologicalwork of Robert Wright illuminated the field’s linguistic understanding of theMiddle Ages, dialect mixing and dialect formation studies have advancedknowledge of linguistic changes in Spanish, and the development of Spanish hasbeen investigated in more depth through research on standardization over time asa sociolinguistic phenomenon. Other growing fields such as historical analysisof discourse and pragmatics, language contact, and the social history oflanguages show great promise as well, and with the development of historicalelectronic corpora, the field will be able to continue to advance.

The third section concludes with a chapter by Kimberly Geeslin, “The Acquisitionof Variation in Second Language Spanish: How to Identify and Catch a MovingTarget”. Geeslin first discusses variation and L2 learning within secondlanguage acquisition (SLA) theories, followed by some generalizations about L2Spanish variation and the broader implications of these studies. Through ananalysis of horizontal variation (Adamson and Regan 1991), or non-native speakervariation that parallels variation that occurs in native speakers’ speech,Geeslin investigates systematic L2 grammars’ (Corder 1967) variation with ‘ser’vs. ‘estar’, mood selection, leísmo, /s/-weakening, /θ/ use, and intonation.Similarities across studies include that task effects are common for differentproficiency levels and grammatical structures, sentence-level constraints mayoccur in nonnative-speakers before pragmatic-level constraints, and when thesepragmatic constraints are learned, they are often overapplied. Certainchallenges to L2 variability include appropriately defining the contexts ofvariation and quantifying native speaker variability. Geeslin concludes that theinclusion of situational, social, and geographic variability in the Spanishlanguage classroom could greatly expand language learners’ abilities.

The fourth section of this volume deals with “Spanish in Contact”, opening witha chapter by Anna María Escobar on “Spanish in Contact with Quechua” (Chapter16) in the South American Andean zone. After providing a brief history of thelanguages in question, Escobar presents the primary linguistic features in thiscontact zone, which include lexical borrowings from Quechua; loan-blending(Guevara 1972); code-switching; grammatical borrowings, e.g. the inclusion ofthe Quechua plural marker; phonological influence; and morphosyntacticinfluence. The author then describes the micro- and macro-sociolinguisticfactors that influence language in the region, ranging from government policiesto speakers’ interactions and social networks. Finally, the author introducesthe newer contact situation of Andean Spanish and Quechua in contact withnon-Andean Spanish, which is progressively increasing the prestige of AndeanSpanish. Escobar concludes that more studies are needed to tease apart whichfeatures in Andean Spanish are truly due to contact and which have arisenindependently of the contact situation.

Shaw N. Gynan also discusses a South American contact situation in Chapter 17,“Spanish in Contact with Guaraní”. Gynan first reviews the literature on theunique language contact situation in Paraguay, presenting census data from the1950s to the present on language use and preference, discussing languageattitudes (e.g. Guaraní, though associated with national identity, may also beassociated with backwardness, while Spanish is the language of economic value),and finally outlining the language and education policies in place in Paraguay.Gynan also details the phonological, morphosyntactic, and lexico-semanticinfluences of Guaraní on Spanish, such as glottal stop epenthesis, null objectpronoun use, and Guaraní word use like ‘ñandú’ ‘ostrich’ instead of ‘avestruz’.Lastly, Gynan illustrates how Guaraní’s influence on Spanish is portrayed inwriting, ranging from folksy depictions to the stereotypical stigmatized speechof Guaraní-dominant peasants. The author calls upon linguists to explore thisdialect in more depth, paying particular attention to informal registers inorder to access the covert prestige associated with “typical” Paraguayan Spanish.

Chapter 18, “Spanish in Contact with Catalan” by José Luis Blas Arroyo, exploresthe language contact situation in Catalonia from a theoretical perspective,providing an overview of the most important issues in the field of contactlinguistics. First, Blas Arroyo discusses the differences across the dialects ofSpanish in contact with Catalan, which range from L2, interlanguage-likevarieties where the autochthonous population is very dense and Catalan ispredominant to castellorquín (Radataz 2008), the non-standard dialect of Spanishemployed by farm workers and lower-class Mallorcans. The author also exploresthe integration of contact phenomena in society, what Weinreich (1953) deemed“interferences in language”, ranging from isolated loan words or expressions towords incorporated in Spanish following morpho-phonological rules, e.g.‘encruzar’ instead of Standard Spanish’s ‘cruzar’ ‘to cross’. Finally, BlasArroyo discusses the features most easily attributable to language contact andthe notable features of linguistic convergence before suggesting the areas inparticular need of attention in the field of contact linguistics, namely thestructural restraints that condition these linguistic changes.

In Chapter 19, J. Clancy Clements, Patrícia Amaral, and Ana R. Luís describe“Spanish in Contact with Portuguese: The Case of Barranquenho”, which is alanguage with Portuguese lexicon and grammar, but with many phonological,morphosyntactic, and semantic elements from Spanish. The authors explain thatBarranquenho emerged slowly as Spanish speakers in the Barranco area, whichunderwent an 800-year territorial dispute between Spain and Portugal, learnedPortuguese, and the variety is preserved today as a badge of cultural identity.Among the defining features of Barranquenho are post-tonic final vowel raisings(/ə/ to [i]), a lack of distinction between /b/ and /v/, and the use of /r/instead of /ʀ/. Some Extremaduran features are also apparent, e.g.syllable-final /s/ aspiration or deletion, and word-final /r/ and /l/ deletion.Semantic equivalents to Spanish in this dialect include present perfect use,‘estar’ + gerund use, doubling of indirect objects and indirect object cliticproclisis, use of ‘le’ or ‘les’ instead of ‘lhe’ or ‘lhes’, the use of thediscourse marker ‘buenu’, variation between ‘gostar de’ and ‘gustarle aalguien’, and double pronominalization. The majority of the salient features ofBarranquenho are predicted by the authors to have been transferred from Spanishto Portuguese, a process that slowly took place as the inhabitants of Barrancoslearned Portuguese due to local and socio-political reasons. The authorsconclude that Barranquenhos now place themselves between the two cultures,marking their independence and hybridity through their language use.

In Chapter 20, Luis A. Ortiz López explores “Spanish in Contact with HaitianCreole” from a “contact linguistics and translinguistic influence” (418)perspective. The author discusses subject pronoun use by age, languageacquisition (1L1, 2L1, and L2), and language dominance. His study shows asignificant difference between L2 adult and adolescent learners, on the onehand, and 1L1 and 2L1 speakers, on the other, with Spanish L2 learners retainingthe non-pro-drop parameter of Haitian Creole. Those whose Spanish contact beganafter the age of ten converge with adult L2 learners in an overgeneralization ofthe non-pro-drop rule, which Ortiz López attributes to a delay in thediscourse-syntax interface processing of null vs. overt subject pronouns. OrtizLópez notes that these results suggest a separation of grammars for 1L1 and 2L1speakers, while L2 learners select the subject pronoun option apparent in bothlanguages (non-pro-drop) when presented with ambiguous input.

Armin Schwegler’s contribution, “Palenque (Colombia): Multilingualism in anExtraordinary Social and Historical Context” (Chapter 21), describes the threevernaculars in the Palenque linguistic situation in Colombia: Spanish,Palenquero Creole, and a ritual vernacular of African origin. While thevocabulary of Palenquero Creole is almost entirely Spanish, many morphosyntacticdifferences make the two languages mutually unintelligible. Some of the mostsalient features of Palenquero include a lack of gender/number marking, a lackof overt definiteness marking, and unchanging verbal stems with TMA markers,among others. The Spanish of Palenque is divided into two casual varieties ofCoastal Caribbean Spanish: a “low”, in-group variety, and a higher statusvariety for speaking with in- and out-group members. Finally, lumbalú is aritual-based code used in funeral rites, although most of the Africanisms havebeen forgotten.

In the last chapter in this section (Chapter 22), Lofti Sayahi investigates“Spanish in Contact with Arabic”. Sayahi first presents a socio-historicalbackground to situate the relationship between the two languages, which began inSpain and Northern Africa and continued with the immigration of Arabic speakersto Latin America beginning in the late 1800s. Because of the socio-historicalrelationship between Spain and Northern Africa, interesting situations ofvarying degrees of bilingualism emerge in Ceuta and Melilla, Northern Morocco,Western Sahara, and Northern Algeria. In the Iberian Peninsula, 12% ofimmigrants are of Moroccan origin, and Argentina houses many Arabic-speakingcommunities that have preserved Arabic mainly for religious purposes. Sayahialso details the linguistic features common in the Spanish of Spanish-Arabicbilinguals, including the raising of unstressed mid vowels, initial voweldeletion, pronominal order charges, e.g. ‘se me’ > ‘me se’ (Moreno-Fernández1992), and religious borrowings from Arabic, among others.

The fifth section of the handbook covers “Spanish in the United States, HeritageLanguage, L2 Spanish”.

In Chapter 23, Lourdes Torres addresses “Spanish in the United States: BilingualDiscourse Markers”, providing an overview of previous studies that discussdifferences between discourse markers such as ‘so’ and ‘entonces’, both highlyused among Spanish-English bilinguals, which show similar pragmatic-discourseuses. The author also details the epenthesis of ‘so’ across speech communitiesin the US, the extent of which shows acculturation of Spanish speakers in anEnglish-dominant society regardless of their proficiency in English. Torresnotes that studies on discourse markers in the US are also useful for analyzingdifferences based on register and formality, as discourse markers are useddifferently given different power relationships and intended audience. Finally,Torres explains that heritage speakers appropriate the discourse marker ‘como’as a quotative or a semantically-empty filler word, much like in English(Sánchez-Muños 2007). Torres calls for future studies across more variedcontexts and registers to help map the use of discourse markers in multilingualcommunities.

Chapter 24 is by Ricardo Otheguy, titled “Functional Adaptation and ConceptualConvergence in the Analysis of Language Contact in the Spanish of BilingualCommunities in New York”. Otheguy first illustrates how Spanish is spoken inNYC, focusing on the differences between innovative usage and innovativegrammar. Simplifying functional adaptations include the phonological reshapingof English loanwords, e.g. ‘building’ as ‘bildin’, the use of shorter,duplicating loanwords, e.g. ‘cash’ replaces ‘efectivo’, the dominant use of themasculine article ‘el’ with loanwords, and the loss of personal ‘a’. Thedifficulty, of course, lies in determining which of these simplifications aredue to contact. Otheguy argues that phonological adaptation of English words andthe incorporation of duplicating loanwords are not instances of languagecontact, as the former appears in both the contact and reference lects, and thelatter is functionally motivated by length. However, the use of the masculinearticle with loanwords and the loss of ‘a’ supports the argument for a contactdialect in NYC. After a discussion of functional adaptation and conceptualconvergence, the author concludes that one cannot simply discuss languagecontact where two languages are in contact; rather, one must indicateparalinguistic behaviors that could reflect language contact and conduct atheory-based grammatical analysis to determine their contact status.

Almeida Jacqueline Toribio discusses “Code-switching among US Latinos” inChapter 25, providing an overview of the users, properties, contexts, andmotivations of English-Spanish code-switching with examples of the process.Toribio explains that borrowings and loan shifts (or semantic calques) arefrequent in the speech of US bilinguals, with the alternation between Englishand Spanish at the discourse level (code-switching) being frequent only amongthose proficient in both languages. The author discusses code-switching as aconscious choice that can serve many functions depending on the speaker andcontext, including topic shift, quotation, persuasion, emphasis, question shift(Reyes 2004: 84-85), identity construction, etc. In general, the phenomenon isemployed when a long-standing contact relationship exists between two languages,and Toribio notes that even media outlets have begun using code-switching tospecifically target the U.S. Latino demographic.

In Chapter 26, Norma Mendoza-Denton and Bryan James Gordon investigate “Languageand Social Meaning in Bilingual Mexico and the United States” reviewing theliterature on the negotiation of social meaning and identity constructionthrough language use in different spheres. They begin with a discussion ofbureaucracy and the public sphere, detailing Spanish-English interactions inhospitals, and the issues of class, deportability, and independence of medicalchoice that emerge as a result of Spanish use. The second sphere detailedincludes the media’s and the elites’ language use, focusing on TV shows such as“Cristina” that emphasize a Spanish-only stance and actually censor US Latinocode-switching: these programs may enforce norms of a particularSpanish-speaking country or establish a pan-ethnic vision of Latin America.Finally, mobility within bilingual communities is discussed, with focus placedon the relationship between language and culture and the importance of speakinga culture’s dominant language in order to be upwardly mobile. Mendoza-Denton andGordon also explore the linguistic shifts that take place when Spanish isbrought into contact with English, such as an expanded use of ‘estar’, and thechanging notions of indigeneity and legitimacy within a settler state. Finally,the authors describe attempts to bridge the micro-macro divide in linguisticstudies on social meaning.

Chapter 27, “Intrafamilial Dialectal Contact” by Kim Potowski, investigateslanguage contact situations within a single household in which two differentdialects of Spanish are spoken by the parents. After providing a brief review ofthe literature on Spanish dialects in contact with each other in the UnitedStates and the acquisition of dialects among children with mixed parental input,Potowski details the few existing studies exploring the speech of children whocome from homes with one parent speaking Mexican Spanish and another speakingPuerto Rican Spanish. Potowski and Matts (2008) find that 15/18 of theirparticipants approximated the mother’s dialect more than the father’s,demonstrating the mother’s importance in language and dialect transmission (seeLabov 1994, Robert 1997). Potowski (2008) confirms that the speakersphonologically considered either Puerto Rican or Mexican also used more lexicalitems from that dialect. The author concludes that a great deal more work isneeded to account for rater reliability, interviewer effects, parentalaccommodation, and contact with other Spanish-speaking groups.

In “Heritage Language Students: The Case of Spanish” (Chapter 28), GuadalupeValdés and Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci focus on the teaching of Spanish to heritagespeakers, a term fraught with different definitions and understandings. Theauthors provide a historical overview of teaching Spanish to bilingual speakers,concern about which has existed since the 1930s, and heritage speakers, whichbegan in the late 1970s. However, the authors note that resources for teachingheritage speakers were limited until the late 1990s, when standards,professional activities, professional development series, conferences, and otherresources for teachers emerged. Valdés and Geoffrion-Vinci explain thatdifferent approaches are being taken in these teaching strategies, frompsycholinguistic, educational, and sociolinguistic perspectives, and argue foran interdisciplinary approach, as publications on heritage Spanish often servethe purposes only of their field and do not carry out a scholarly discussionacross sub-disciplines.

“Language Maintenance and Language Shift among US Latinos” by Jorge Porcel(Chapter 29) investigates socio-structural variables, variables shaping thespeech community, and language attitudes that affect a group’s language choices,bringing about maintenance or shift. Porcel also discusses the assessmentstrategies to determine a group’s maintenance or shift based on, for example,loyalty and retention measures (see Hudson et al. 1995). The monolingual assuperior to multilingual bias in the Western world, the cultural devaluation ofminority languages, and the demographic, socioeconomic, cultural, and legalstatus of the minority population’s roles in influencing language choices arediscussed, along with other factors such as the frequency and duration oflanguage contact for the minority group and the concentration and location ofthe minority population, which also play a role in molding the speech community.The author concludes that maintenance or shift are acts of identity (Le Page andTabouret-Keller 1985), as individuals make decisions about their language use,and these choices are influenced by complex linguistic, structural, societal,and cultural factors.

The fifth section of the handbook concludes with a piece by Adam Schwartz, whoexplores “Mockery and Appropriation of Spanish in White Spaces: Perceptions ofLatinos in the United States”. Schwartz argues that Spanish is beingreappropriated by monolingual English speakers with everything from racialmotivations to attempts to be politically correct (Zentella 2003). Referring to“indexicality” and “White space”, Schwartz builds upon Hill’s (1998; 2008)analysis of “Mock Spanish”, which involves a simplification of and, often,complete disregard for grammatical rules, with the overuse of the suffix -o orerroneous insertion of the masculine article ‘el’ to present a linguisticallyfashionable or humorous image. Schwartz explores the deeper implications of thisreappropriation, which, instead of being considered fashionable or humorous, mayactually be considered covertly racist, presenting Spanish as disorderly andenforcing the racial inequality associated with language use.

The sixth and final section of the handbook is entitled “LanguagePolicy/Planning, Language Attitudes and Ideology”.

Ofelia García contributes Chapter 31, “Planning Spanish: Nationalization,Minoritizing and Globalizing Performances”, which explores Spanish in its usesas a national, minority, and global language with both explicit and hiddenlanguage planning. García discusses Castilian language planning in Spain throughthe construction of an idealized homogenous, centralized state, and themanagement of other languages in the peninsula. García explains that explicitroyal or dictatorial decrees silenced other languages until more recent years,which have witnessed an expansion of linguistic rights in Spain. The author alsodetails language practices in Latin America, explaining that Spaniards imposedexplicit language policies in the Americas as well, and in spite of thewidespread preexisting linguistic diversity, only 17% of the indigenouspopulation did not speak Spanish by 1898. Recently, Latin American countrieshave been granting co-official status to indigenous languages, continuing in theSpanish tradition of explicit language planning. In the United States, however,the racialization and devaluation of Spanish as a language of the colonized orthe threatening immigrant has more implicitly relegated Spanish to a lowersocietal rung than English ideologically. Finally, because Spanish-speakingmarkets are booming economically, García argues that Spanish is being presentedas a “fashionable” (see Guareschi 2001) language of the world. The authorconcludes with a plea for dynamic language policies that consider the manySpanishes and the many different language practices of the world instead ofoversimplifying a diverse and complicated issue.

In Chapter 32, Serafín M. Coronel-Molina and Megan Solon discuss “BilingualEducation in Latin America”, focusing on the four countries of Peru, Guatemala,Bolivia, and Ecuador. Coronel-Molina and Solon discuss the history anddevelopment of Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE), as well as its currentstate in each country investigated. After presenting the numerous laws, reforms,and language policy changes that have been introduced in each country, theauthors conclude that indigenous linguistic rights have garnered much moreattention since the end of the 20th century than ever before. However,additional discussion is needed regarding the accessibility of these changes, aswell as their design, development, and realization. Another cause for concern isthe lack of ethnographic data on IBE’s implementation and effects to assess theindigenous reaction to and reality of the policy changes. Policymakers mustcontinue to discuss, evaluate, and advocate for IBE to handle a dynamic andglobal linguistic situation.

Chapter 33, “Variation and Identity in Spain” by Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy,introduces the history and standardization of Castilian Spanish (and thesubsequent devaluation of other Spanish dialects), along with the linguisticvariation and different identities found in Peninsular Spanish. He dividesPeninsular Spanish into three main categories: (1) the national CastilianSpanish standard, (2) the local or regional variety, and (3) the interdialectalcommon Spanish. The variation found in non-standard Peninsular dialects ofAndalusian and Murcian, with eight vowel systems and many non-standardconsonantal processes, are explored with reference to the variation commonlyfound in “standard” speaking areas, such as ‘haber’ pluralization and -ra/-seimperfect subjunctive variation. The authors conclude that these variations inPeninsular Spanish serve as acts of identity (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller 1985)to situate the individual in a larger social space.

Mercedes Niño-Murcia investigates “Variation and Identity in the Americas” inChapter 34, distinguishing between primordialist concepts of identity, in whichidentity is inherent and unchanging, and constructivist approaches, in whichidentity is a perpetually negotiated and ever-mutating entity. Under theconstructivist perspective, individuals use language to signal their identityand belonging to a certain social group. To illustrate identity formation inLatin America and attitudes towards indigenous languages, Niño-Murcia discussesthe unique situation in Paraguay and the expansion of Guaraní versus theincreased stigmatization of indigenous languages in Peru. She also considersmigration’s implications on language and identity, describing the changinggender roles of Shipibo immigrants in Lima as women, who were less sociallyvalued in Shipibo, begin to earn more money than men and actually preserveShipibo culture through their artisanal work and speak their indigenous languagemore than men. Finally, the author looks at identity construction and attitudestowards Spanish in the US, where many bilinguals choose to code-switch betweenEnglish and Spanish to signal their identification with both languages, butother immigrants consider the behavior disloyal or uneducated. Niño Murciaconcludes that language, often idealized as pure and unchanging, is inherentlymutable as individuals use language to co-construct their identity throughvariation.

The closing chapter in the compilation is “Linguistic Imperialism: Who OwnsGlobal Spanish?” by Clare Mar-Molinero and Darren Paffey, which addresses theattitudes towards and use of Spanish as a global language. The authors arguethat even though Spain is no longer in power in Latin America, itsnation-building and language-building in the Americas has enabled it to portrayitself as the rightful “custodians of castellano” (754) and sell a version ofglobal Spanish through the Instituto Cervantes and the Real Academia de laLengua Española (RAE), symbols of linguistic imperialism. As the demand forSpanish grows, arguments over linguistic ideologies, values, and ownershipemerge as well. While Spanish is well behind English in its emergence as alingua franca, communities of Spanish-as-a-global-language leaners are emerging,but Mar-Molinero and Paffey argue that the materials available from theInstituto Cervantes contain values and goals for assimilation that do not alignwith the numerous dialects of Spanish and communities of Spanish-speakers acrossthe globe.


“The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics” is, as the title suggests, theresource for all Hispanic sociolinguists. The compilation is an invaluablecollection of work for students and professors alike, unparalleled in itsbreadth. While sophisticated in its content, the Handbook is clear andaccessible as well, making it an excellent resource even for those outside ofthe field of sociolinguistics or for those who may be less familiar withsociolinguistic work on the Spanish language.

The Handbook tackles diverse areas of Hispanic linguistics, ranging fromphonology, morphosyntax, contact and L2 Spanish, language policy, and languageattitudes. In its 35 chapters, the Handbook includes work from qualitative,quantitative, empirical, theoretical, and pedagogical approaches, offering averitable smorgasbord of data- and theory-driven arguments with real-life,practical applications. Also notable is the fact that this volume wedstraditional with cutting-edge approaches, with arguments ranging fromlongstanding debates in Hispanic sociolinguistics to the most innovativesubdisciplines and approaches, such as historical sociolinguistics.

Even in chapters focusing on more classic debates within the field, the authorsall push for improvements and suggest the directions from which they believetheir subfield would benefit the most, making the vision and goals of theHandbook consistently progressive. As far as the individual contributors areconcerned, the compilation reads as a “who’s who” in the field of Hispanicsociolinguistics, ranging from most well-established sociolinguists to the bestemerging scholars, providing a frame of reference from the most renowned expertsin each area.

Obviously, due to considerations of length and the far-reaching objective of thevolume, the breadth is more impressive than the depth throughout the Handbook,which serves primarily as a summary of the major debates and as a point ofdeparture for its readers. However, each contribution provides an extensive listof additional sources and areas for exploration, providing the reader with bothan overview of the most important discussions in the subfield and an excellentbibliography for further investigation.

Overall, the well-roundedness, clarity, and breadth of “The Handbook of HispanicSociolinguistics” make it an indispensable tool for all linguists. The volumepresents a clear explanation of the history of the field, recent advancements,and future directions for the field of Hispanic sociolinguistics that arerelevant and accessible to anyone with an interest in the topic. The compilationis a “must-have” for the bookshelf of any modern sociolinguist, and it is aresource that will help raise questions and shape debates in the field for yearsto come.


Adamson, H. Douglas and Vera Regan. 1991. The acquisition of community speechnorms by Asian immigrants learning English as a second language. Studies inSecond Language Acquisition 13 (1). 1-22.

Aijón Oliva, Miguel Ángel. 2008. Elección lingüística y situación comunicativa:un dilema teórico. Revista de Filología de la Universidad de La Laguna 26. 9-20.

Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: some universals inlanguage usage (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics 4). Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Cameron, Richard. 2005. Aging and gendering. Language in Society 34. 23-61.

Corder, S. Pit. 1967. The significance of learners’ errors. International Reviewof Applied Linguistics 5. 161-169.

Díaz-Campos, Manuel. 2001. Acquisition of phonological structure andsociolinguistic variables: a quantitative analysis of Spanish consonantweakening in Venezuelan children’s speech. The Ohio State University Ph.D.dissertation.

Díaz-Campos, Manuel. 2004. La adquisición de patrones de variaciónsociofonológica en el habla infantile. In V. Sánchez Corrales (ed.), Actas XIIICongreso Internacional de la Asociación de Lingüística y Filología de AméricaLatina, 255-266. San José: Universidad de Costa Rica.

Díaz-Campos, Manuel. 2006. La adquisición de la estructura fonológica y de lavariación sociolingüística: un análisis cuantitativo del debilitamientoconsonántico en el habla de niños caraqueños. In Haciendo lingüística: Homenajea Paola Bentivoglio, 61-75. Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Guareschi, Roberto. 2001. El español: economía y cultura. II CongresoInternacional de la Lengua Española. Available at:

Guevara, Darío. 1972. El castellano y el quichua en el Ecuador. Quito: Casa dela Cultura Ecuatoriana.

Hill, Jane H. 1998. Language, race and White public space. AmericanAnthropologist 100 (3). 680-689.

Hill, Jane H. 2008. The everyday language of white racism. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hudson, Allan, Eduardo Hernández Chávez, and Garland D. Bills. 1995. The manyfaces of language maintenance: Spanish language claiming in five Southwesternstates. In Carmen Silva-Corvalán (ed.), Spanish in four continents: studies inlanguage contact and bilingualism, 148-164. Washington, DC: GeorgetownUniversity Press.

Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change: internal factors. Oxford:Blackwell.

Le Page, R.B. and A. Tabouret-Keller. 1985. Acts of identity: creole-basedapproaches to ethnicity and language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Moreno-Fernández, Francisco. 1992. El español en Orán: notas históricas,dialectales y sociolingüísticas. Revista de Filología Española LXXII. 5-35.

Potowski, Kim. 2008. “I was raised talking like my mom”: the influence ofmothers in the development of MexiRicans’ phonological and lexical features. InJ. Rothman and M. Niño Murcia (eds.), Linguistic identity and bilingualism indifferent Hispanic contexts. New York: John Benjamins.

Potowski, Kim and Janine Matts. 2008. Interethnic language and identity:MexiRicans in Chicago. Journal of Language, Identity and Education 6 (3). 137-160.

Radataz, Hans-Ingo. 2008. Castellorquín: el castellano hablado por losmallorquines. In C. Sinner and A. Wesch (eds.), El castellano en las tierras dehabla catalana, 113-132. Frankfurt and Madrid: Vervuert and Iberoamericana.

Reig Alamillo, Asela. 2009. Cross-dialectal variation in propositional anaphora:null objects and propositional lo in Mexican and Peninsular Spanish. LanguageVariation and Change 21. 381-412.

Reyes, I. 2004. Functions of code-switching in schoolchildrens’ conversations.Bilingual Research Journal 28. 77-98.

Sánchez-Muños, Ana. 2007. Style variation in Spanish as a heritage language: astudy of discourse particles in academic and non-academic registers. In KimPotowski and Richard Cameron (eds.), Spanish in contact, 153-173. New York: JohnBenjamins.

Weinreich, Uriel. 1953. Languages in contact. Findings and problems. New York:Publications of the Linguistic Circle of New York.

Zentella, Ana Celia. 2003. “José, can you see?” Latin responses to racistdiscourse. In Doris Summer (ed.), Bilingual games: some literary investigations,51-66. New York: Macmillan.


Whitney Chappell is a PhD candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at the Ohio State University specializing in sociophonetic variation. Her doctoral dissertation (in progress) deals with coda /s/ realization and glottal stop insertion in Nicaraguan Spanish.

Page Updated: 04-Aug-2012