Event Title

Cuasi nomás inglés: Intonation at the crossroads of Spanish and English in 20th century New Mexico

Start Date

8-11-2017 8:30 AM

End Date

8-11-2017 12:30 PM

Description

Spanish has been spoken in New Mexico since the late 1500s; descendants of the original Spanish settlers speak this unique variety, called Traditional New Mexican Spanish (TNMS). TNMS is unique in that it has experienced both relative isolation from other varieties of Spanish for nearly 300 years, and since the mid-1800s, has increasingly been in contact with English culminating in widespread Spanish-English bilingualism. In such situations of intense contact, one or both languages generally show evidence of contact-induced change. One feature of NMS that is perceptually unique is the intonation, which has until this study not been empirically examined. I hypothesize that, in part, English has influenced TNMS intonation during this period of bilingualism. This study tests this hypothesis using 60 TNMS interviews from the New Mexico and Colorado Spanish Survey (NMCOSS). Participants have birth dates that span approximately 100 years (1897-1978), precisely the period that saw the change from a Hispanic majority to a Hispanic minority in NM concomitant with an increase in societal bilingualism. This study compares the production of three intonational features which differ between Spanish and English across three generations of TNMS speakers. This allows us to trace the unfolding and social trajectory of intonational change in New Mexico throughout the 20th century. Results demonstrate that there is no evidence of influence from English, even in the youngest speakers with the highest degree of bilingualism. This is remarkable, given how long English has been spoken in NM and the official opposition Spanish speakers have historically faced. I attribute this resistance to English influence to sociodemographic characteristics and identity factors of the NMS speakers. I argue that studies of contact-induced linguistic change should take into account community characteristics such as the concentration of minority speakers in a given area, social networks, language attitudes, and identity.

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Nov 8th, 8:30 AM Nov 8th, 12:30 PM

Cuasi nomás inglés: Intonation at the crossroads of Spanish and English in 20th century New Mexico

Spanish has been spoken in New Mexico since the late 1500s; descendants of the original Spanish settlers speak this unique variety, called Traditional New Mexican Spanish (TNMS). TNMS is unique in that it has experienced both relative isolation from other varieties of Spanish for nearly 300 years, and since the mid-1800s, has increasingly been in contact with English culminating in widespread Spanish-English bilingualism. In such situations of intense contact, one or both languages generally show evidence of contact-induced change. One feature of NMS that is perceptually unique is the intonation, which has until this study not been empirically examined. I hypothesize that, in part, English has influenced TNMS intonation during this period of bilingualism. This study tests this hypothesis using 60 TNMS interviews from the New Mexico and Colorado Spanish Survey (NMCOSS). Participants have birth dates that span approximately 100 years (1897-1978), precisely the period that saw the change from a Hispanic majority to a Hispanic minority in NM concomitant with an increase in societal bilingualism. This study compares the production of three intonational features which differ between Spanish and English across three generations of TNMS speakers. This allows us to trace the unfolding and social trajectory of intonational change in New Mexico throughout the 20th century. Results demonstrate that there is no evidence of influence from English, even in the youngest speakers with the highest degree of bilingualism. This is remarkable, given how long English has been spoken in NM and the official opposition Spanish speakers have historically faced. I attribute this resistance to English influence to sociodemographic characteristics and identity factors of the NMS speakers. I argue that studies of contact-induced linguistic change should take into account community characteristics such as the concentration of minority speakers in a given area, social networks, language attitudes, and identity.