Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


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."

E-mail this page

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: Topics in the Historical Sociolinguistics of Tejano Spanish, 1791-1910: Morphosyntactic and lexical aspects Add Dissertation
Author: Glenn Martinez Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Completed in: 2000
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Director(s): Juan Zamora
Francesco D'Introno
Luis Marentes
Roger Higgins

Abstract: This dissertation attempts to fill a void both in the study of Spanish in the United States and in studies of the social history of Mexican residents in Texas. It is a description and analysis of the lexical and morphosyntactic changes that arose in the Spanish language spoken in Texas during the nineteenth century. The role of the changing status of the language in the community as well as increasing levels of bilingualism are identified as primary motivations of the linguistic changes observed. I show that both grammatical simplification and sociolectal reduction played a part in shaping the Spanish language spoken in Texas. I identify sociolectal reduction in the changes affecting the verb form in ra. While most varieties of American Spanish lost all indicative functions of the -ra form during the colonial era, the Spanish spoken in Texas maintained one indicative function. I argue that this maintenance resulted from the interplay of socio-economic marginalization, land tenure loss, and the stylistic value that speakers ascribed to the form in this particular context. The form was regarded as an informal variant in the community throughout the nineteenth century. As Anglo encroachment became more intense during the course of the century, the Tejano co mmunity became more compact both spatially and socially. Socio-geographic compacting resulted in more dense social networks in the community, and this in turn favored the propagation of the informal variant. Similarly, most varieties of American Spanish have lost the imperfect subjunctive form in se reserving this function for the form in ra. While Tejano Spanish turns up the same trend, the loss of the form comes much later than in other parts of Mexico and Spanish America. I argue that this late loss of the form in se is a result of shifting national identities that were indirectly motivated by the imminent threat of Anglo invasions in certain regions of South Texas. I identify grammatical simplification in the language of Tejanos in the expression o f imperfectivity in narrative discourse. I argue that as Anglo dominance grew stronger in the region and as Tejanos were becoming bilingual in greater numbers, the narrative discourse of the community came to be syntactically simplified. The simplificatio n of clausal structures resulted in the reduction of options for the expression of imperfectivity precisely because one of the most common options before Anglo encroachment involved the use of the gerund form in a reduced clause. The dissertation demonstrates that the language of Tejanos has been diachronically shaped by the social circumstances in which it has been embedded over the past one hundred and fifty years.