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Sociolinguistic analysis of Mexican-American bilingualism: Spanglish as a sociocultural phenomenon

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Judyta Pawliszko

The main purpose of the book is to describe the two linguistic-cultural phenomena arising from mass emigration of Mexicans to Los Angeles: Spanish-English bilingualism and Spanglish. The main thesis of the research is the correlation between Spanish-English bilingualism and Spanglish. As public opinion deemed Spanglish as a blocker for linguistic advancement or degraded Spanish, it is actually a method of enhancing the linguistic system. That is why, not only does the research contest the use of such terms, but it also argues that bilingualism is a much more compound and adequate term as well as an analytic framework for the study of bilingual productions. Spanglish should be understood as a form of bilingualism, a hybrid enriching the linguistic system.

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Chapter 1 Bilingualism

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Introduction

Studies into the scope of bilingualism followed the path of historical analysis of this phenomenon. Investigations conducted by many researchers revealed that, in all probability, no language group has ever existed in isolation from other language communities. What is more, linguistic history is replete with instances of interethnic or international cooperation leading to some forms of bilingualism.

A surge in the field of language contact studies has led to yet another interesting observation; namely, no precise statistics exist concerning the number and distribution of speakers of two or more languages throughout the nations of the world. While almost all contemporary encyclopaedias together with survey books list the main languages of the world, the number of people speaking them, and the places where they are spoken, there are no comparable figures on the use of two or more languages. The aforementioned issue may be partly accounted for by the fact that there is no widely accepted definition of the concept of bilingualism. As will be presented in the present chapter, the term has often been paired with such modifiers as early and late, receptive and productive, fluent and nonfluent, balanced, functional, and many others, since there is no universal definition of this linguistic phenomenon.

Yet, to the inquisitive researcher, bilingualism offers a fascinating and a varied set of patterns, as a group of people may become bilingual for a number of different reasons. Among these is the movement of the group due...

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