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Review of  Introducción a la sociolingüística hispánica

Reviewer: Whitney Chappell
Book Title: Introducción a la sociolingüística hispánica
Book Author: Manuel Díaz-Campos
Publisher: Wiley
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Issue Number: 26.2513

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Review's Editors: Malgorzata Cavar and Sara Couture


“Introducción a la sociolingüística hispánica” (“Introduction to Hispanic sociolinguistics”) fills a long-open void in Hispanic linguistics, presenting for the first time a cohesive collection of chapters, activities, and exercises to be utilized in an introductory Spanish sociolinguistics class. With discussions of variation in both English and Spanish, the text could be incorporated both in upper-division Spanish courses in the United States and throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

The book is divided into eleven chapters, which are outlined below.In the first chapter, “Aspectos fundamentales para entender la sociolingüística” (“Fundamental aspects to understand sociolinguistics”), Díaz-Campos presents the basic elements of sociolinguistic analysis. The chapter includes sections dedicated to the type of research done by sociolinguists, the history of sociolinguistic studies, methodologies and analyses employed by sociolinguists, and a discussion of variation and language change.

The second chapter is called “Lengua, edad, género y nivel socioeconómico” (Language, age, gender, and socioeconomic status”). The first section of the chapter details apparent time studies, focusing on different age groups’ use of ‘distinción’ in Peninsular Spanish (Moya and García Wiedemann, 1995; Villena Ponsoda, 1996; Villena Ponsoda and Ávila Muñoz, 2012), lateralization of coda /ɾ/ in Puerto Rico (López Morales, 1989), and the deaffrication of / t͡ʃ/ in Panama (Cedergren, 1987). The discussion then moves on to gender, with sections on the innovative and conservative behavior of women in terms of variant use, the projection of masculinity, and the challenges that emerge in gender-based sociolinguistic studies. Finally, Díaz-Campos introduces indices of socioeconomic status and ways of treating this social factor.

Chapter three, entitled “El estudio de la variación sociofonológica” (“The study of variationist sociophonology”), is composed of three primary sections. First, Díaz-Campos presents a description of sociophonology. Second, the author discusses the manner in which sociophonological studies are conducted, including information on data collection, speech analysis programs, and phonetic/phonological, grammatical, and social factors that often condition the variants. Finally, two songs illustrating sociophonological variation in the Spanish-speaking world (from Panamanian and Spanish dialects) are given to allow for analysis of their different features.

In the fourth chapter, “La variación sociofonológica en el mundo hispanohablante” (“Sociophonological variation in the Spanish-speaking world”), dialectally diverse phonological processes are discussed. Following a summary of some of the most common sociophonological variation in Spanish and the region in which the variation is found, the chapter is broken down by natural classes: (i) stops, (ii) affricates, (iii) fricatives, (iv) liquids, (v) nasals, and (vi) vowels. Within these subsections, processes such as vowel reduction, /s/ aspiration and elision, rhotacization, lateralization, and vocalization of liquids, to name a few, are described.

Chapter five details “Variación morfosintáctica” (“Morphosyntactic variation”) in Spanish-speaking regions. Díaz-Campos first defines the area of study and introduces the role of the Neutralization Hypothesis. As with chapters 1 and 3, the author also discusses the way in which sociolinguists study variables of interest, focusing primarily on the linguistic factors that condition the variants of ‘(de)queísmo’ and future-time expression. Grammaticalization is then addressed (Torres-Cacoullos, 2011), particularly as it relates to Tense, Mood, and Aspect (TMA), followed by the identification of potential changes in progress. The chapter closes with a discussion of the use of computerized data available through corpora with helpful examples from the Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual (CREA).

The sixth chapter, “La variación morfosintáctica y el significado social en el mundo hispanohablante” (“Morphosyntactic variation and social meaning in the Spanish-speaking world”), opens with a general discussion of the most commonly discussed morphosyntactic variables in Spanish, including (i) those related to tense, mood, and aspect, e.g. the indicative or subjunctive moods, synthetic vs. analytic future, etc.; (ii) the reduction or omission of prepositions; and (iii) pronominal variables like leísmo and the expression or omission of subject pronouns, among others. The second section presents a summary of the research conducted on forms of address between the informal tú or vos forms and the formal usted form. In the third and fourth sections the preterit and present perfect, on the one hand, and the pluralization of the verb haber ‘to be’, on the other, are investigated with reference to the social factors that condition the variants.

In chapter seven, entitled “Lenguas en contacto” (“Languages in contact”), Díaz-Campos first discusses the sociohistorical conditions that led to linguistic contact in Latin America and the lexical influence of indigenous languages in the Americas on Spanish. The prolonged contact situations in Paraguay, the Andes, and Mexico are presented with examples of phonetic and morphosyntactic features that emerge in these contact varieties. The next section contextualizes the creole origins of certain Afro-American varieties of Spanish and introduces the Monogenetic Theory, which posits a single pidgin source, and the Polygenetic Theory, which posits a variety of origins. The final section details the Palenquero and Bozal Spanish creoles, discussing the Kikongo influence in Palenquero (Schwegler, 2011), and the effect of Africans’ imperfect Spanish learning during colonization on Bozal Spanish (Lipski, 1998).

Chapter eight addresses “Bilingüismo y español en los Estados Unidos” (“Bilingualism and Spanish in the United States”), showing the increase of Spanish speakers in the United States and their distribution by country of origin and state of residence. Language conservation and the factors that affect conservation are then presented, and Díaz-Campos notes that the ideology of monolingualism prevalent in the country (Porcel, 2011, p. 263) influences the shift towards English, the dominant majority language. The next section of this chapter analyzes codeswitching (Toribio, 2011, p. 530), loan words, and semantic calques along with the social and pragmatic functions of codeswitching. Finally, the conceptual convergence and functional adaptation (Otheguy, 2011, p. 504) common among bilinguals is detailed, including simplification and regularization.

The ninth chapter, “El español como lengua de herencia” (“Spanish as a heritage language”), begins by introducing heritage speakers and exploring linguistic ideologies, including the perceived cultural inferiority of Spanish speakers in the United States (García, 1993, p. 71), a view that is politically visible in the English Only movement and Proposition 187. The next section focuses on language planning in the US, which involves a lack of federal planning and a tendency to exclude vernaculars in favor of the prestige language or variety (García, 1997). Finally, the author notes the importance of offering special classes for heritage speakers, as the needs of these individuals who grew up hearing Spanish at home are quite different than the needs of English speakers with no previous knowledge of Spanish vocabulary or grammatical structure.

In chapter ten, “Actitudes e identidad lingüísticas” (“Linguistic attitudes and identity”), Díaz-Campos explains the objectives of studying speakers’ attitudes and methods of studying such attitudes. The author details the matched-guise technique and the success of its indirect measurement of attitudes and beliefs about the people who use certain linguistic features (Preston, 2004). Several examples are explored, including the perception of Chicano English (Arthur, Farrar, and Bradford, 1974), (-ING) variation in English (Campbell-Kibler, 2008), and final /ɾ/ retention and elision in Spanish (Díaz-Campos and Killam, 2012), among others. The next brief section introduces anthropological perspectives on Spanish and bilingualism, featuring a discussion of mock Spanish as a symbolic resource (Schwartz, 2011, p. 649) to reinforce social and economic domination (see Hill, 1993, 1998). Folk beliefs about language are addressed in the last section, including beliefs about linguistic boundaries and the “correctness” or “pleasantness” of certain varieties (Preston, 2004).

The final chapter, “La lengua y las leyes” (“Language and laws”), describes the goals and scope of forensic linguistics and how linguistic analysis has been used as legal evidence in several important cases, e.g. the JonBenet Ramsey case and McDonald’s versus Quality Inns International. Díaz-Campos then discusses the use of Spanish in the US legal system, addressing the challenges posed to non-native English speakers and the importance of specialized translators in court.


Manuel Díaz-Campos’ textbook “Introducción a la sociolingüística hispánica” provides a wealth of information on the history of sociolinguistic study, ongoing debates and theoretical developments, and the present state of Hispanic sociolinguistics. Throughout the book, the author pulls examples from diverse dialects of Spanish and English to exemplify the linguistic patterns and processes at work, utilizing numerous different sources and perspectives. The textbook provides a single coherent source for teachers of Hispanic sociolinguistics to use in the classroom with the latest references, which will serve as an incredible boon to both instructors and students in the field.

In terms of accessibility, Díaz-Campos’ writing style is clear, concise and easy to understand for native speakers and advanced non-native speakers alike. The inclusion of YouTube links that illustrate the concepts being discussed will undoubtedly be a pull for all students, allowing for a more interactive means of learning the material and analyzing the data. The inclusion of sociophonological variation in popular music (chapter 3) is sure to engage a wide range of students as well, enmeshing the non-native speakers in Spanish music and culture while simultaneously allowing them to hone their analytical sociolinguistic skills.

Each chapter is logically organized, including simple bullet points that address the major areas to be covered, 3-7 sections related to the aim of the chapter, helpful figures and tables to clarify central points, “Para investigar y pensar” (‘To investigate and think about’) questions throughout the text, and chapter-final exercises and application sections, followed by a glossary and references. The “Para investigar y pensar” questions encourage scholarly reflection and would be highly effective for in-class discussions, while the exercises and application at the end of each chapter provide beneficial out-of-class homework assignments to reinforce the chapter’s concepts and extend understanding through independent research. Finally, the in-chapter glossary and the reference list provide a means of quickly and easily locating the main concepts and authors discussed in each chapter.

The scope of the book is remarkable, particularly for an introductory text, as each chapter covers numerous studies important to the development of sociolinguistic inquiry alongside the newest and most up-to-date work in the field. For example, chapter 3 describes the work of Labov (1972), introducing the roots of sociophonological variationist studies, and then links Labov’s approach and methodology with recent studies on Hispanic sociolinguistics, including trill /r/ variation (Díaz-Campos, 2008), coda stop production (E. L. Brown, 2006), variable /s/-voicing (Schmidt and Willis, 2011), grammatical conditioning and frequency effects for /s/ reduction (Poplack, 1980; File-Muriel, 2007; E. K. Brown, 2009), intervocalic /d/ retention (D’Introno and Sosa, 1986), and lateralization of coda /ɾ/ (Medina-Rivera, 1999, 2011), among others. This wide range of topics, concepts, and authors ensures that students receive a firm foundation in Hispanic sociolinguistics, and the related comprehension questions and exercises make the book hands-on and practical for classroom use, helping to direct discussions and analysis. In future editions, it might be helpful to provide an extended introduction to the field at the beginning of the book and expand upon the social side of Hispanic sociolinguistics by discussing age, education, and gender in separate chapters, but overall, the first edition serves as a wonderful guide for teachers and students alike.

In sum, the first edition of “Introducción a la sociolingüística hispánica” is a very welcome addition to the field. In this work, Díaz-Campos provides a detailed panorama of the sociolinguistic studies to date, utilizes an engaging writing style, and incorporates innovative activities and exercises. The textbook is an excellent teaching tool for instructors of Hispanic linguistics and is a must-read for students in the field.


Arthur, B., Farrar, D., and Bradford, G. (1974). Evaluation reactions of college students to dialect differences in the English of Mexican-Americans. Language and Speech, 17, 255-270.

Brown, E. K. (2009). The relative importance of lexical frequency in syllable- and word-final /s/ reduction in Cali, Colombia. In J. Collentine et al. (Eds.), Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (pp. 165-178). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Brown, E. L. (2006). Velarization of labial, coda stops in Spanish: A frequency account. Revista de Lingüística Teórica y Aplicada, 44, 47-58.

Campbell-Kibler, K. (2008). The nature of sociolinguistic perception. Language Variation and Change, 21, 135-156.

Cedergren, H. (1987). The spread of language change: Verifying inferences of linguistic diffusion. Georgetown University Round Table on Language and Linguistics, pp. 45-60. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Díaz-Campos, M. (2008). Variable production of the trill in spontaneous speech: Sociolinguistic implications. In L. Colantoni and J. Steele (Eds.), Selected Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonology (pp. 47-58). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Díaz-Campos, M. and Killam, J. (2012). Assessing language attitudes through a match-guise experiment: The case of consonantal deletion in Venezuelan Spanish. Hispania, 95(1), 83-102.

D’Introno, F., and Sosa, J. M. (1986). La elisión de la /d/ en el español de Caracas: Aspectos sociolingüísticos e implicaciones teóricas. In R. N. Cedeño, I. Páez Urdaneta and J. Guitart (Eds.), Estudios sobre la fonología del español del Caribe (pp. 135-163). Caracas: La Casa de Bello.

File-Muriel, R. (2007). A study of lenition: The role of lexical frequency and phonetic context in the weakening of lexical /s/ in the Spanish of Barranquilla. (Doctoral dissertation). Indiana University, Bloomington.

García, O. (1997). World languages and their role in a U.S. city. In O. García and J. A. Fishman (Eds.), The multilingual apple: Languages in New York City, pp. 3-50. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

García, O. (1993). From Goya portraits to Goya beans: Elite traditions and popular streams in U.S. language policy. Southwest Journal of Linguistics, 12, 69-86.

Hill, J. (1998). Language, race and white public space. American Anthropologist, 100(3), 680-689.

Hill, J. (1993). “Hasta la vista, baby”: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest. Critique of Anthropology, 13, 145-176.

Labov, W. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Lipski, J. (1998). El español bozal. In M. Perl and A. Schwegler (Eds.), América negra: Panorámica actual de los estudios lingüísticos sobre variedades criollas y afrohispanas (pp. 293-327). Frankfurt: Vervuert.

López Morales, H. (1989). La sociolingüística. Madrid: Gredos.

Medina-Rivera, A. (2011). Variationist approaches: External factors conditioning variation in Spanish phonology. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 36-53). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Medina-Rivera, A. (1999). Variación fonológica y estilística en el español de Puerto Rico. Hispania, 82(3), 529-541.

Moya, J., and García Wiedemann, E. J. (1995). El habla de Granada y sus barrios. Granada: Universidad de Granada.

Otheguy, R. (2011). Functional adaptation and conceptual convergence in the analysis of language contact in the Spanish of bilingual communities in New York. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 504-529). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Porcel, J. (2011). Language maintenance and shift among US Latinos. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 623-645). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Poplack, S. (1980). Deletion and disambiguation in Puerto Rican Spanish. Language, 56(2), 371-385.

Preston, D. (2004). Language with an attitude. In J. K. Chambers, P. Trudgill, and N. Schilling-Estes (Eds.), The handbook of language, variation and change (pp. 40-66). Oxford: Blackwell.

Schmidt, L. B., and Willis, E. W. (2011). Systematic investigation of voicing assimilation of Spanish /s/ in Mexico City. In S. M. Alvord (Ed.), Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Laboratory Approaches to Romance Phonology (pp. 1-20). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Schwartz, A. (2011). Mockery and appropriation of Spanish in white spaces: Perceptions of Latinos in the United States. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 646-664). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Schwegler, A. (2011). Palenque (Colombia): Multilingualism in an extraordinary social and historical context. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 446-472). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Toribio, A. J. (2011). Code-switching among US Latinos. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 530-552). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Torres-Cacoullos, R. (2011). Variation and grammaticalization. In M. Díaz-Campos (Ed.), The handbook of Hispanic sociolinguistics (pp. 148-167). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Villena Ponsoda, J. A. (1996). Convergence and divergence in a standard-dialect continuum: Networks and individuals in Málaga. Sociolingüística, 10, 112-137.

Villena Ponsoda, J.A., and Ávila Muñoz, A. (2012). Estudios sobre el español de Málaga: Pronunciación, vocabulario y sintaxis. Málaga: Editorial Sarriá.
Whitney Chappell is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She received her doctorate from The Ohio State University in 2013, and her research focuses on sociophonetic variation in the Spanish-speaking world. Her recent research topics include the social and linguistic factors conditioning the glottal stop in Nicaraguan Spanish, the acquisition of phonological reductions among L2-Spanish speakers, rhotacization of /s/ in Elche Spanish, and /s/ voicing in Costa Rican Spanish.

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