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


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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“Language is one of the most important aspects of culture. Without language we could not hope to live peacefully with other cultures.”

(Kendall 2008:335)

In the context of Mexican assimilation in the structure of the Los Angeles community, cultural contacts and bilingualism are becoming a more and more intriguing issue for modern-day linguistic studies. Nevertheless, the data on Mexican-American bilingualism, as well as Spanglish use in Los Angeles, exemplify the dearth of research prevalent in contemporary scientific discourse. The lack of recent in-depth analysis of the Los Angeles Mexican diaspora coupled with the personal life experiences of the immigrant community influenced the particular interest of the present dissertation in this subject.

The approach adopted in the above study allowed for a multifaceted, although not yet comprehensive and final, analysis of the phenomenon of bilingualism and its results in the form of code-mixing processes. Clearly, the investigation is limited in a number of ways due to both the complex and broad subject of the study. Thus, although analysis of the empirical material collected enabled verification of the research assumptions, the results allowed us only to formulate certain generalisations on a specific group of immigrants that may not be, however, decisive and conclusive for all Mexican-American bilinguals.

As a widespread linguistic contact phenomenon, any approach adopted to examine the features and aspects present in Spanglish must be based on an integrated attitude which takes into consideration many linguistic sub-fields. Indeed, research...

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