Spanish in Relation to Socioeconomic Status Over Time in America



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As of the late 20th century, there has been an upsurge in the social linguistic study of minority languages in the United States. Their survival, maintenance, and evolution has been linked to social, cultural, political, and economic factors. Spanish remains a paradoxical case with the Hispanic population growing but the number of Spanish speakers decreasing among the US population. This study investigates how the change overtime in the Spanish language spoken over several generations within Hispanic American families relates to each member's socioeconomic status, and if it does, how? It also looks at the societal and personal attitudes towards teaching Spanish to future generations. Twelve Spanish speaking Hispanic Americans from different generations in each of the six chosen families were interviewed and surveyed about their use of Spanish, attitudes towards bilingualism, success, and passing on Spanish to future generations. Their education level, occupation, and income levels were used to determine their socioeconomic status. Their information was compared to the national data on Hispanic American socioeconomic status and general attitudes towards bilingualism. The results showed an inverse relationship between the increase in socioeconomic status and the decrease in intergenerational Spanish fluency within US Hispanic families due to factors like necessity, political attitudes, and insecurity in bilingual ability. The attitude towards the continuity of the intergenerational transmission of the language remains positive. To promote the maintenance and undeniable evolution of US Spanish, there needs to be positive social reinforcement of bilingualism and effort to improve attitudes toward the Hispanic culture.



Spanish, History