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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Register and Style Variation in Speakers of Spanish as a Heritage and as a Second Language Add Dissertation
Author: Ana Sánchez Muñoz Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Southern California, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2007
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Carmen Silva-Corvalán

Abstract: One of the fundamental principles of sociolinguistics is that language is
not homogeneous and that no single person speaks in the same way all the
time. Numerous studies have provided evidence of linguistic variation
across situations of use in English (e.g. Bell 1984; Biber 1988; Biber and
Finegan 1994). However, under special conditions when a language is
restricted to very familiar situations, speakers might not show register
variation (Dressler 1982). For most heritage speakers of Spanish in the
U.S., English is the dominant language while Spanish is largely restricted
to home and family interactions. This dissertation explores the hypothesis
of variation across registers in Spanish as a heritage language.
Additionally, it examines speakers of Spanish as a second language since
Spanish is also their non-dominant language.

For the purpose of studying register and style variation, this dissertation
focuses on several linguistic features that are expected to vary in
relation to the type of register: discourse particles, contractions, and
various lexical choices. The data analyzed come from recorded spoken
samples produced in Spanish by heritage and second language speakers and
collected in three situations of use: conversations, interviews, and
presentations, ranging on a scale from less to more formal.

The results indicate that both heritage and second language speakers show
linguistic variation in their Spanish across registers. The results also
reveal some quantitative as well as qualitative differences between the
production of heritage and second language speakers across registers. These
contrasts are the result of the different input to which the speakers have
been exposed to during acquisition.

This dissertation contributes to further our understanding of bilingualism
by examining Spanish as a heritage and as a second language across
different registers, which has not been previously investigated. It
provides evidence of variation in a relatively small range of registers in
the speakers’ non-dominant language. This is an important finding since it
shows that even when the use of the language is largely restricted to a
particular domain (home and family interactions for heritage speakers and
classroom interactions for second language learners), we can still find
register variation.