A corpus-assisted discourse study of attitudes towards Spanish as a heritage language in Florida

Ethan Kutlu, Ruth Kircher

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Spanish speakers constitute the largest heritage language community in the US. The state of Florida is unusual in that, on one hand, it has one of the highest foreign-born resident rates in the country, most of whom originate from Latin America—but on the other hand, Florida has a comparatively low Spanish language vitality. In this exploratory study of attitudes toward Spanish as a heritage language in Florida, we analyzed two corpora (one English: 5,405,947 words, and one Spanish: 525,425 words) consisting of recent Twitter data. We examined frequencies, collocations, concordance lines, and larger text segments. The results indicate predominantly negative attitudes toward Spanish on the status dimension, but predominantly positive attitudes on the solidarity dimension. Despite the latter, transmission and use of Spanish were found to be affected by pressure to assimilate, and fear of negative societal repercussions. We also found Spanish to be used less frequently than English to tweet about attitudes; instead, Spanish was frequently used to attract Twitter users’ attention to specific links in the language. We discuss the implications of our findings (should they generalize) for the future of Spanish in Florida, and we provide directions for future research
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguages
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2021

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