Spanish in the USA

  • BU Course Number: CAS LX420
  • Prerequisites: CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics and CAS LS 303 or a higher level Spanish course, or permission of the instructor.
  • BU HUB: N/A
  • Offered at the undergraduate level

*This course is taught in Spanish.

Course Description.Of the 60 million people in the U.S. who speak a language other than English, roughly 40 million are Spanish speakers. This group of Americans is larger in number than the individual populations of 15 different countries in Spanish-speaking Latin America, and it is roughly equivalent in size to the entire populations of both Spain and Colombia. The goal of this course is to examine this immense speech community from the perspective of linguistics, focusing on a range of questions: What is the historical and current demographic profile of Spanish in the US? Where, when, and by whom is Spanish spoken? Is Spanish maintained across generations, or are the large numbers of speakers sustained primarily by immigration? How does Spanish spoken in the United States compare to that of Latin America and Spain? In particular, what aspects of its structure – its lexicon, morphology, syntax, and phonology – may be experiencing substantial changes under the dual pressures of dialect and language contact? Might the interaction of Spanish speakers with diverse linguistic backgrounds be promoting the emergence of a uniquely ‘US Spanish’? We will examine these questions within the framework of modern sociolinguistic theory, focusing on the quantitative analysis of natural language data and the role of social factors in conditioning language variation and change. We will pay special attention to Spanish as it is spoken in the urban U.S., reviewing research conducted in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New York City. We will also consider the ways in which such research may be applicable to the relatively understudied population of Spanish speakers in Boston.