In an effort to better understand the linguistic behavior of second generation Spanish heritage speakers, this study investigates the uses of English and Spanish among three bilingual young adults in their last year of high school. Through sociolinguistic interviews, videotaped ethnographic observations, and a fusion of quantitative and qualitative analyses, the study examines how and to what extent linguistic behavior among bilinguals in the school context is shaped by contextual and situational factors, including family composition and relationships, attitudes towards Spanish and English, the nature of relationships established at school, the type of interlocutor, and the settings in which the participants find themselves inside the school, whether in the cafeteria, the hallways, or the classroom itself. The composition, strength and multiplicity of ties, and Spanish use index of these young Latinos' social networks and their impact on their linguistic behavior are specifically examined. Additionally, the assumption that contact between the more established generations of Latinos and the new arrivals has resulted in a process of Spanish language "revitalization," (a notion that derives from previous research with methodological design limitations) is addressed.
With respect to language use tendencies, the data revealed that the all three participants used mostly English in school contexts, even in a school environment that supported the use of Spanish. In addition, the primary factor that best predicted the uses of English, Spanish and code switching was the proficiency of the interlocutor. Although the study sought to determine whether contact occurred between first and second generation students, it was not possible to determine an overall index of contact because the amount of school interactions between second generation Latinos and newly arrived immigrants was subject to multiple contextual factors. Additionally, the composition of the social networks and the presence of strong ties with monolingual Spanish speaking members were highly influential in the maintenance of Spanish or the switch to English. Finally, the findings lend support to proposals that human and social capital (and their implications in terms of financial stability, access to technology that facilitates communication across international borders, and ability to travel to the Hispanic country of origin, among others) play a crucial role in the maintenance of Spanish as a minority language in the United States.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2012. Major:Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Linguistics. Advisor: Carol A. Klee. 1 computer file (PDF); xix, 398 pages, appendices A-F.
¿Realidades (in)alterables? Prácticas lingüísticas de tres hablantes bilingües en su temprana adultez en una escuela secundaria del medio oeste.
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