Linguistics ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-14-2018


This dissertation examines the flexibility in the social meanings of sociolinguistic stereotypes and how linguistic and non-linguistic information affect these meanings. The investigation consists of four empirical studies surrounding the case of fresas in Mexico –members of the upper class that are perceived as using a unique linguistic style.

Study 1 investigates the linguistic and non-linguistic characteristics associated with the fresa stereotype. Through a qualitative analysis of 64 webpages and 3 performances of the style, it is shown that fresasare perceived as the counterpart of another construct, nacos,and that their linguistic style is linked to English due to various lexical, segmental and prosodic elements. Study 2 focuses on the production of rising contours at the end of declarative sentences as a feature of the fresastyle. Study 3 explores the possibility of these rises index a fresa persona. Using data from a Mexican conversational corpus, an acoustic analysis reveals that there are two types of rising contours produced in declarative sentences, one of which has a steeper f0 slope and is perceived as fresastyle. The results of study 3 suggest that, while the steep rise may not directly index the social category of fresa, it can still be heard as a feature of this linguistic style. Finally, Study 4 investigates how visual appearance affects the social meanings fresa andnaco. 97 Mexican subjects socially categorized individuals on a fresa-naco scale based on a photo and a short audio clip. The 12 photos and 12 audio clips used as stimuli were paired in all possible combinations, in a way that they were perceived to either match or not match, based on stereotypicality. A linear model regression shows that there is indeed an effect due to congruence between audio and visual appearance. Visual information has an effect on social meanings.

In sum, this dissertation contributes to the body of research in sociolinguistics that focuses on the variability of social meanings of linguistic variation. Particularly, it underscores its intersectionality with other social constructs such as class and race.

Project Sponsors

Latin American and Iberian Institute, CONACYT




Mexican Spanish, Linguistic Privilege, Intonation, Raciolinguistics, Fresa, Naco

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Linguistics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Christian Koops

Second Committee Member

Jill Morford

Third Committee Member

Richard File-Muriel

Fourth Committee Member

Paul Edmunds