Ethnolinguistic Contact Zones: Identity and Language Use within Mexican-Nuevomexicano Families in New Mexico
Gorman, Lillian D.
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Previous ethnographic research as well as research regarding language shift do not emphasize the differences within the Hispanic population of New Mexico. The present study seeks to examine these inter-Latino interactions by exploring what I term “ethnolinguistic contact zones”. I use this phrase recalling both Silverstein’s (2003) notion of ethnolinguistic identity and Mary Louise Pratt’s (1992) concept of “contact zones”. Together, these allow for exploration of the dynamic meeting places in which Nuevomexicanos and first-generation Mexicans negotiate their respective notions of linguistic and cultural sameness and difference. I propose that the mixed Mexican-Nuevomexicano family unit serves as a particularly intimate and useful ethnolinguistic contact zone from which to explore issues of language maintenance, recontact, and language ideologies from within the same family. More specifically, I ask, (1.) How do Mexicans and Nuevomexicanos in New Mexico define and view themselves and each other, and what roles do Spanish and English play in these conceptualizations? (2.) What factors, including linguistic, shape the cultural identities of the Mexican-Nuevomexicano mixed Latino subject? Using qualitative research methods, my study documents a series of interviews with nine mixed Mexican-Nuevomexicano family units from seven towns in northern New Mexico. The families consist of two parents and at least one adult child. I conducted 32 individual and 9 group interviews. My analysis of the interviews focuses on five main areas: recontact and transculturation, language shift/maintenance, language ideologies, dialect future, and theorizing the mixed identities of the Mexican-Nuevomexicano subjects.