Ethnolinguistic Chicago: Language and Literacy in the City's Neighborhoods, along with its forthcoming companion volume, Latino Language and Literacy in Ethnolinguistic Chicago, fill an important gap in research on language use in Chicago, and more generally, in globalized metropolitan areas. Often cited as a quintessential American city, Chicago is and always has been a city of immigrants, and is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the United States. Although language is unquestionably central to social identity and Chicago has been well studied by scholars interested in ethnicity, until now no one has focused--as do the contributors to these volumes--on the related issues of language and ethnicity.
Most of the chapters are based on ethnographic studies of language, though several provide historical narratives as well. Because an ethnographic perspective requires attention to local-level, "insider" meanings, this book offers a richly diverse set of portraits whose central themes emerged inductively from the research process and the communities themselves. Despite this diversity, all chapters emphasize language use as centrally related to ethnic, class, or gender identities. As such, this volume will interest anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, historians, educators and educational researchers, and others whose concerns require an understanding of "ground-level" phenomena relevant to contemporary social issues.