The south Florida Graduate Student

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The south Florida

Graduate Student

Journal of Linguistics

Volume 1, Number 1 Fall 2007

Editorial Board

Founded 2006


Kristyl Kepley

Editorial Coordinator

Carolina Seiden

Review Editor

Brooke Rains Emley

Faculty Advisor

Robert Trammell

Advisory Board,

Prisca Augustyn

John Childry

Gwynne Gonzalez

Michael Horswell

Martha Mendoza

Myriam Ruthenberg

Robert Trammell

~Boca~ is published bi-annually by:

The Florida Atlantic University Linguistics Society

Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature 777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431-0991.


Subscriptions for Boca are $8 per year.
Requests for Permission to Reprint Boca should include the author’s permission and be addressed to the editor.
Copyright 2006 by FAULS

Printed in the United States of America

ISSN: 1935-9071

Volume 1, Number 1 Fall 2007

Editor’s Note

Kristyl Kepley 4

Spanglish in America

Gwynne Gonzalez 6

On Carts and Horses: Incorporating Technology in the

Teaching of Linguistics

Patricia MacGregor-Mendoza 16

Language Pariahs: A Summary of American Profanity

Brooke Rains Emley 28

Deaf students as a language minority: Language Policies

and Attitudes Towards Bilingual Education

Kerstin Sondermann 41

Second Language Learner Anxiety: Creating Comfort

through Journal Writing

Todd Valdini 62

Call for Papers 80

Editor’s Note:

As I was beginning my graduate studies, a colleague asked me when I was first “seduced” by linguistics. Of course, I understood the intent, and answered quickly; but I thought this, at first, to be a funny way of asking the question. Thinking on it later, however, I recognized the accuracy of the analogy: for discovering your academic passion is not so very different from encountering your first love.
At first, linguistics—like love—is overwhelming. It seems that there is so much you don’t know. You realize that there is this whole world that, up until now, has been passing you by. It isn’t like other subjects that you have been repeatedly exposed to throughout your scholastic career; and, yet, it isn’t at all unfamiliar, either. You begin to walk this fuzzy line between recognizing that you know nothing, and feeling as though the whole field is somewhat second-nature. And, as you become more familiar with it—‘it’ being linguistics or love—you begin to see it everywhere. Your whole world becomes colored by the experience of this encounter. And, the more you learn about it, the more you find there is to learn.
It was with this kind of fervor for the study of linguistics that, in the Spring of 2006, we began discussing the possibility of establishing a linguistics journal at Florida Atlantic University. Though we are each enchanted by a different facet of linguistics, we wished—through our journal—to embrace linguistics as a broad and bewitching science. That, necessarily, meant that in our first issue, we would celebrate the diversity of our field by accepting submissions dealing with any of linguistics’ many subfields.
The call for papers went out in the Summer of 2006, and we were delighted with the response we received from our colleagues at other universities, and the support we received, in the form of submissions, from the scholars at our own institution. We are thrilled with this end product, as we believe it is emblematic of not only the diversity of our field, but also the ways in which scholars from one subfield of linguistics can be informed, encouraged, and pushed in new directions by the work of linguists in other subfields. It is our hope that this first issue accomplishes these lofty goals.
While we intend, each year, to publish one issue following this format, we will also reserve one issue to focus on a specific topic that we believe is of particular interest to the field of linguistics in general. Thus, our second issue will address the issue of Bilingualism and Culture, and the impact of linguistics in this framework. Please see our ‘Call for Papers’ at the end of this issue for more information.
Lastly, we would like to thank the faculty of the Languages, Linguistics and Comparative Studies Department for their time and interest in this project; and, we wish to specifically thank Dr. Robert Trammell for his characteristic support and guidance throughout this process.

Kristyl Kepley

Spanglish in America
Gwynne Gonzalez

The University of Arizona
The United States is home to more than 35 million Hispanics who make up 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population—this number doesn’t include the 3.8 million Hispanics living in Puerto Rico (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). On a daily basis, the Spanish speakers that comprise the Hispanic communities of the United States communicate, think, and provide and receive information in two languages—Spanish and English. This co-existence of two languages has created a situation in which Spanish, as the subordinate language, is more susceptible to lexical borrowings (Zentella, 1990). Furthermore, the dominant English speaking community exerts a cultural influence over the Hispanic communities which can also be evidenced linguistically in the Hispanics’ use of Spanglish.

Spanglish is defined in Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary as: “Spanish marked by numerous borrowings from English; broadly: any of various combinations of Spanish and English.” Though broad, this definition is fairly accurate. In more specific terms, Spanglish is a language1 that comes about through the combination of several linguistic speech acts, which include consistent code-switching between English and Spanish, semantic extensions of English words into Spanish translations, and the use of lexical borrowings all within Spanish syntax. Though Spanglish is linguistically based on Spanish syntax and morphology, it is not generally considered a legitimate dialect of Spanish by Hispanic communities within or outside the United States. Instead, these communities often perceive Spanglish as a bastardized form of Spanish used in the United States by poorly educated immigrants. Furthermore, it is also viewed as evidence that the Hispanic communities in the United States have lost much, if not all, of the culture and heritage that links them to their countries of origin:

“At home, this kind of stuff, like, it’s really forbidden…Always, none of us would dare us it at home, never… Spanglish isn’t even a fully formed language. It is used by common people, la prole, people without education, gente iletrada [illiterate people]… My Pop’s dream was to improve on our family condition. And language, I guess is a lot about our own self, isn’t it? Like, what you speak is what you are” (Stavans, 2003).
In this statement, a young college student is explaining his family’s views of Spanglish. He clearly has an aversion to the use of the language, as (to him) it denotes a lack of education and appears to somehow blur the identity of the speaker by disassociating the speaker from their native community.

The perception of Spanglish by the English speaking communities is not much better, often linking the use of Spanglish with lack of assimilation:

“Spanglish, the purists suggest, is the result of a bankrupt system of [Bilingual Education]2: when teachers and parents forget how to delineate the line between one language and the other, the outcome is verbal chaos. Other reasons are added to its existence, among them a general state of “laziness” among Hispanic immigrants to learn proper [English completely]3 and the endorsement of multicultural programs that encourage cultural hybridity rather than discourage it” (Stavans, 2003).
Like the Hispanic communities, the English speaking communities who oppose Spanglish, clearly perceive it as lacking roots within a specific linguistic community. Moreover, because Spanglish is often viewed as a type of halfway point between English and Spanish, the English speakers see it as evidence of the Hispanic community’s resistance to assimilation.

Much of the hostility and negative perception towards Spanglish stems from issues of assimilation and cultural identity, though these concepts often stand in opposition to each other. The Hispanic communities resent the fact that Spanglish pulls its speakers away from their Hispanic origins; while the English speaking communities believe that the speakers of Spanglish are simply refusing to assimilate. When it comes to cultural identity, it’s a lose-lose situation for Spanglish speakers. However, Spanglish serves as a unifying tool in the United States for the many different Spanish speaking nationalities that co-exist in specific geographical areas. Unlike many other immigrant communities in the United States, the Hispanic community is comprised of a wide variety of nationalities, cultures and dialects (mutually intelligible for the most part). This diversity gives rise to a socially accepted linguistic hierarchy that creates the perception of linguistic deficiencies for some Hispanic communities. A case in point is that of the Dominican community whose dialect of Spanish is considered highly deficient. The Dominicans’ use of Spanglish allows them to identify with a linguistic community that, although still low on the totem pole of Spanish, is of higher status than their own. Additionally, many countries have different names for the same items or concepts, making communication difficult between members of different nationalities. The use of Spanglish allows for the use of English loan words, or calques, that are more easily understood by a wider variety of Spanish speakers than the words which only have meaning in a specific national dialect of Spanish.

The lexical make-up of Spanglish also touches upon the issue of assimilation. Many of the lexical items in Spanglish are considered loan translations by some, and semantic extensions by others—as they have their ‘roots’ in English lexicon. These Spanglish lexical items can be said to reflect the U.S. Hispanic’s assimilation into American culture, while at the same time appear to distort or replace similar lexicons that already exist in Spanish. This point is better illustrated through the following examples: El día de dar gracias and máquina de contestar.

“El día de dar gracias, used by U.S. Hispanics to refer to the holiday that is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November… would have no referent and serve no purpose in Spain or Latin America” (Otheguy, 1993). The Spanish meaning of the ‘act of giving thanks/dar gracias’ was thus extended to the semantic concept of ‘Thanksgiving’ in Thanksgiving Day. This usage of the term dar gracias, however, does not have any true meaning in standard Spanish; in fact, it makes little sense. As a clear result of assimilation, the Hispanic community used Spanish lexicon, morphology and syntax to give reference to a celebration that does not exist outside of the United States. Therefore, although the phrase is consistent with standard Spanish, the mere construction of the term “El dia de dar gracias” is considered Spanglish for non-U.S. Hispanic communities.

An even more telling example is that of the term maquina de contestar (answering machine). The construction of this term is “based on the verb contestar ‘to answer’ and on maquina ‘machine’” (Otheguy, 1993). In standard Spanish, the term used is “contestador, or contestador automatico, a formulation based on a noun derived from the same verb contestar ‘to answer’, combined with the word automatico ‘automatic’” (Otheguy, 1993). While both terms refer to the same appliance, they are formed from different “cultural conceptualizations” (Otheguy, 1993). In standard Spanish, functions that were once manual acts performed by people but have since become automated through technology are designated as such through the addition of the word automático. Examples of this semantic representation can be found in the functions of answering the phone/contestador automático and washing dishes/lavadero automático. By contrast, in English the automated function is traditionally designated through the perspective that a machine now performs that function. Thus, English adds the word ‘machine’ to a base word that then designates its specific function. Examples of this are ‘answering machine’, ‘teller machine’, and ‘washing machine.’ The Spanglish use of the English ‘formula’ illustrates the cultural assimilation of the Hispanic community, not because the lexical items themselves linguistically resemble their English counterparts, but more importantly, because they are conceptualized from a different perspective than that of the Spanish lexicon. Clearly, the contact situation of Spanish in an English environment allows for such semantic extensions to arise. However, it should not be ignored that standard Spanish also has lexical constructions that are similar to English when referring to conceptualizations such as maquina de escribir/typewriter and maquina de coser/sewing machine. The influence of the fact that such constructions already exist in Spanish, along with the repeated influence of the English conceptualization, may also have much to do with these semantic extensions found in Spanglish. This too, may have much to do with the difficulty in defining these terms as either loan translations or semantic extensions.

Another important issue within the discussion of Spanglish and its general perception is its immense diversity. As mentioned before, Spanglish is the code-mixing of English and Spanish. However, the code-mixing manifests itself in different ways throughout the country. As is expected, the largest concentration of Spanglish speakers are in the areas of the country that have historically had more Spanish speaking immigrants: “Logically, more intense exposure to English over longer periods of time tends to result in the incorporation of more loanwords” (Zentella, 1990). These areas include Texas, the southwestern region of the United States (Arizona, New Mexico, southern California), South Florida, and New York. Also, the more extended the contact between the two languages, the more morphological changes and semantic extensions can be expected. The more prominent and identifiable dialects of Spanglish are found in these regions of longer contact. However, the contact situations which give birth to Spanglish almost always differ from region to region, influenced by the dialect of Spanish which has come into contact with standard English. For example, the Spanglish spoken in Texas, known as Chicano, is influenced by Mexican Spanish and is very different from the Spanglish spoken by Puerto Ricans in New York, known as Nuyorrican. And both these varieties of Spanglish are different than the variety spoken in Miami, known as Cubonics, which is mostly influenced by Cuban Spanish. Because the syntax of Spanglish is based on Spanish and much of its morphological constructions are similar across the board, these varieties are for the most part mutually intelligible. However, the major difference in these dialects can be easily found in the regional lexicon. For example, in Chicano the word washateria is easily understood as a laundromat, but neither Cubonics nor Nuyorrican employ this word. It should be noted that the English root of the word ‘wash’ and its Spanish suffix ‘ria’ allow for easy interpretation by different Spanglish dialects. A less easily understandable term would be impacto, which in standard Spanish means ‘shock’, but in Nuyorrican means ‘consequence’. The great diversity found in Spanglish has not yet given way to a standard of the language. To date, no dialect of Spanglish is perceived as more correct than any other. Unfortunately, all its versions are still considered a misuse of the Spanish language.

In order to fully understand the way in which Spanglish manifests itself (and to appreciate why it is considered so controversial) it is important to illustrate more of its morphological constructions, semantic extensions and lexical items. Following are some examples of Spanglish with linguistic explanations to accompany them. A common morphological process observed in Spanglish is the attachment Spanish suffixes to English words being used as the root of a lexical item as in the following: 1) Parquear (alternate spellings: parkear or parkiar) [parkεar]– this word takes the English root ‘park’ /park/ and adds the phoneme /ε/ and the Spanish suffix ‘ar’ which forms the infinitive of a word in Spanish creating the meaning ‘to park’ (Stavans, 2003). The word in standard Spanish which means to park is estacionar from the root word estacion. 2) Switche [‘switʃε] – this word take the English root ‘switch’ and adds the final vowel sound /ε/ after the [tʃ] because [tʃ] is not normally final in Spanish, creating the meaning of ‘electrical light switch’. The word in standard Spanish used to refer to an electrical light switch is interruptor (Trager & Valdez, 1937).

As mentioned before, Spanglish also manifests itself in semantic extensions. A common example of the semantic extensions found in Spanglish is the use of the word saber. In standard Spanish, saber is defined as ‘to know something or have knowledge of something.’ However, in Spanglish, the definition of the English word ‘know’ has been extended to saber in that saber is also used to refer to being acquainted with a person, as in the following construction: “Mami,¿ Cómo ese niño sabe a Eric?/Mami, how does that child know Eric?’ (Otheguy, 1993). In standard Spanish, the word conocer would be used instead of saber.

The most evident way of identifying Spanglish is through its lexicon. Following are some lexical items found in Spanglish, with their respective Spanish and English counterparts:


Spanish word

English word

Other information…

El maus



Derived from its English counterpart and made gender specific (male)





Coolisimo (culisimo)








A phonological combination of the English words ‘watch’ and ‘man’.


To one’s liking

In Standard Spanish means clean, clear

Because Spanglish is not accepted by either of its contributing languages, it has a long way to go before it is accepted as a legitimate language with its own culture and identity. Until then, Spanglish speakers will undoubtedly continue to grow and struggle with the misconceptions attached to its use.

Mathews, P.H. (1997). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Otheguy, R. (1993). A reconsideration of the notion of loan translation in the analysis of U.S. Spanish. In A. Roca, J.M. Lipski, (Ed.), Spanish in the United States: Linguistic Contact and Diversity (pp.21-45). New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Romaine, S. (1989). Bilingualism (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell.

Stavans, I. (2003). Spanglish: The making of the new American language. New York: HarperCollins.

Trager, G. L., & Valdez, G. (1937). English Loans in Colorado Spanish. American Speech, 12 (1), 34-44. Retrieved on October 3, 2005, from JSTOR database.

U.S. Census Bureau (2000), Summary File 1 (SF 1) and Summary File 3 (SF 3); generated by Gwynne Gonzalez; using American FactFinder; <>; (26 November 2005)

Zentella, A. C. (1990). Lexical Leveling in Four New York City Spanish Dialects: Linguistic and Social Factors. Hispania, 73(4), 1094-1105. Retrieved on October 3, 2005, from JSTOR database.
On Carts and Horses: Incorporating Technology in the Teaching of Linguistics
Patricia MacGregor-Mendoza

New Mexico State University
1. Introduction

Many public institutions of higher learning promote the liberal arts approach to learning, providing students with a broad selection of courses, drawing from a multitude of disciplines. This broad range of General Education courses is designed to provide students with not only a strong foundation of knowledge from different fields, but also an introduction into specific areas of inquiry. Introductory courses in Linguistics typically housed in English, Language, and/or Anthropology departments, are often offered to fulfill an area of such requirements.

Institutions differ in their treatment of these basic level courses. Some are farmed out to non-tenure track adjunct faculty, while others are handed off to graduate students with little more training than a book and a classroom assignment; even less oversight is provided with regard to accountability for the course content (Buerkel-Rothfuss & Gray, 1990). According to a recent report by the American Association of University Professors, 65% of all instructors at post-secondary institutions are non-tenure track faculty in either part or full time positions (Curtis, 2005). This diverse composition of instructors with differing levels of teaching experience can promote discontinuity from section to section of the same course.

In addition to personnel challenges, the nature of providing the necessary knowledge in introductory classes has evolved, given the ever-changing complexity of the world and the increasing number of channels through which students receive information. It is therefore incumbent upon instructors of basic courses like introductory linguistics to constantly adapt their teaching methodologies and improve their means of delivering lessons to meet the goals of General Education.

The internet is a tool that provides advantages to instructors in all of these areas, affording access to materials of various formats outside of class hours, allowing students to review and/or work on materials at their own pace. Nonetheless, web-based materials are not a pedagogical panacea; rather, they are tools that should be used thoughtfully and purposefully. Furthermore, while there has been a great proliferation of linguistic materials on the internet in the last several years, McBride (n.d.) notes that there has been little evaluation performed regarding the application, effectiveness, and utility of such materials in a classroom setting. McBride observes that while technological resources do provide instructors with a broader range of pedagogical assets, they cannot substitute basic principles of learning, and that students need to be guided in their use of these materials.

It should also be noted that access to the resources available on the internet is often subject to the limitations associated with the scholars who post them and their ability to regularly maintain a website; an ability constrained by institutional and individual factors. Many university departments are limited in terms of the availability of professional development funds in their budgets, particularly with reference to increasing the instructors’ knowledge of pedagogical applications of technology. Thus, instructors are left to further their skills on their own, often in a hit and miss fashion, subject to individual time limits, motivation, comfort with technology, and initial level of expertise (Zemsky & Massy, 2004).

Moreover, educational circles are dynamic, and even faddish (Best, 2006). The quest to improve teaching and learning often leads institutions to put the cart before the horse; that is, to adopt tools and techniques before they have a true understanding of how, when, and why to assess their efficacy. Hence, even after instructors have either been compelled or have chosen to take pains to enhance their skills, they are frequently unaware of whether or not their efforts produced any measurable outcomes in their students’ learning.

The present project proposed to develop web-based Linguistics Learning Modules (LLMs) for an introductory linguistics class in order examine the efficacy of a new form of course delivery. Toward this goal, the linguistics team, consisting of 2 tenure-track faculty and two full-time adjunct faculty members, designed and implemented eight LLMs. The overall questions guiding our project were: 1) Do web-based modules aid in increasing students’ mastery of the course material? and, 2) If so, what level of integration of web-based modules is optimal for achieving that goal?

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