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You are here: Home / News & Events / Danny Erker (Boston University) - American Myths of Linguistic Assimilation: A Sociolinguistic Rebuttal

Danny Erker (Boston University) - American Myths of Linguistic Assimilation: A Sociolinguistic Rebuttal

When Sep 27, 2019
from 09:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Where Moore 127
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American Myths of Linguistic Assimilation: A Sociolinguistic Rebuttal

This study examines the behavior of 331 Spanish speakers, 269 immigrants to the United States and 62 native-born individuals, through questionnaires and sociolinguistic interviews. Results show that increased U.S. life experience correlates with expanded use of English in both private and public domains of life. Additionally, greater use of English co-exists with maintenance of fine-grained patterns of structured linguistic variation in Spanish, such that U.S.-born speakers demonstrate remarkable similarity to the immigrant generation in their usage of three variables: (i) subject pronoun presence vs. absence, (ii) grammatical subject position, and (iii) syllable-final /s/. The co-occurence of increased use of English, on one hand, and intergenerational structural continuity in variable linguistic behavior in Spanish, on the other, challenges two misconceptions about Spanish in the United States: that (1) Spanish-speaking immigrants and their U.S. born children are unwilling or unable to learn English, and (2) regular use of English entails attrition and/or failed acquisition of Spanish. Neither of these views finds empirical support in our data.