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Academic Paper

Title: Puerto Ricans in the United States and language shift to English
Author: Lourdes Torres
Institution: DePaul University
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: 'In this essay, I examine language use among Puerto Ricans in the U.S., and evaluate evidence that suggests that they are shifting to English more quickly than other Latino groups. This accelerated adoption of English might seem to be a positive trend to proponents of English-only or to those who fetishize assimilation as the route to success in the U.S.; however, the fact that it is very often accompanied by a loss of Spanish is troubling to those who value multiculturalism and bilingualism. The idea that Puerto Ricans are the group that takes the lead in the loss of bilingualism among Latinos is a source of debate for observers of the sociolinguistic reality of Latinos in the U.S.
With a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community in Chicago, I first discuss language loss among Latino populations in the U.S. Then, I offer a brief overview of Puerto Rican immigration history, and of Latino presence in Chicago. Lastly, I address the allegedly exceptionally rapid shift of Puerto Ricans to English, and discuss possible reasons for this phenomenon. I conclude that even though there are sites where this assertion seems to be true, we need more evidence that captures actual language use patterns across a range of contexts before we can arrive at a definitive characterization of Puerto Rican speech practices.


This article appears IN English Today Vol. 26, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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