Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Linguistic Heritage: Sociohistorical Approaches to Spanish in the United States


by Alejandra Balestra, Glenn Martinez, Maria Irene Moyna

ISBN: 978-1-55885-528-1
Publication Date: November 30, 2008
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 128

A timely and very relevant look at the development of the Spanish language in the U.S. given the increase in immigration and the prevalence of Spanish in the U.S.


About the Book

Contrary to popular belief, the first European language spoken on American soil was not English, but Spanish. Explorer Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his shipmates landed on the Florida coast in 1513, almost 100 years before the British established a permanent settlement in Virginia.

In this fascinating exploration of the development of the Spanish language from a sociohistorical perspective in the territory that has become the United States, linguists and editors Balestra, Martínez, and Moyna draw attention to the long tradition of multilingualism in the United States in the hope of putting to rest the myth that the U.S. was ever a monolingual nation.

The book is divided into two parts: an extensive introduction and a collection of seven articles about various aspects of the sociohistorical development of Spanish. The in-depth introduction gives the reader a historical overview of the areas of the U.S. previously occupied by Spain and Mexico, from the arrival of the earliest settlers to the Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The introduction also reviews language policies during the colonial and Mexican periods as well as current linguistic approaches, census data, and sociolinguistic research. In addition to shedding light on the linguistic evolution of Spanish in the U.S., the seven papers included in the second section of this volume offer the reader a fascinating glimpse into historical ideologies and beliefs in the territory that has become the United States.

A truly multidisciplinary book that touches on a number of related fields, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Linguistic Heritage will be a must-read for scholars of history, sociology, and linguistics and anyone interested in the evolution of the Spanish influence and language in the U.S.

Alejandra Balestra, Glenn Martinez, Maria Irene Moyna

Alejandra Balestra is currently an independent scholar in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Houston, where she also served as a visiting assistant professor and the coordinator of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project. Most recently she served as an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico. The author of numerous published articles, she coordinated the anthologies Herencia. The Anthology of Hispanic Literature in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2002) and En otra voz: Antología de literatura hispana de los Estados Unidos (Arte Público Press, 2002).

Glenn Martinez is an associate professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg, Texas, where he teaches courses on Spanish sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and historical sociolinguistics. A fellow of the American Council on Education and the Texas Center for Health Disparities, Martínez’s current research agenda focuses on the sociolinguistics of language barriers in healthcare among Spanish speaking populations in the Southwest.

Maria Irene Moyna is Assistant Professor at Texas A & M, where she teaches a variety of linguistics and advanced language courses. She was the associate editor for the 5th edition of the University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary (University of Chicago Press, 2002), and her scholarly work has appeared in journals such as the Southwest Journal of Linguistics, Spanish in Context, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, and in several edited collections.

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