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Comunidades, Communities

The Community 

The contact site is the northern part of the U.S. southwestern state of New Mexico,where Spanish and English have co-existed as the main competing languages for over 150 years (Bills & Vigil 2008). The longstanding nature of this contact situation allows for a compelling assessment of hypothesized convergence. Visit the University of New Mexico Press for more information on New Mexican Spanish. 

Participants in the study are all at least third-generation Nuevomexicanos ‘New Mexicans’. The 23 women and 17 men, born between 1923 and 1989, were selected to cover a range of demographic backgrounds (miners, ranchers, schoolteachers, and others), allowing extra-linguistic constraints on the variability to be assessed. All meet the criterion of regular use of both languages with the same interlocutor in the same domain.

The NMSEB Corpus

Spontaneous bilingual speech is recorded through the community-based method of sociolinguistic interviews (Labov 1984) conducted by in-group members (Poplack 1993).

To enable accountable analysis, the transcription is comprehensive and aligned with the audio recording. Prosodically-based transcription, where each line of transcript corresponds to an Intonation Unit (Du Bois et al. 1993), permits an objective assessment of the smoothness and syntactic units of code-switching in conversation.

The New Mexico Spanish-English Bilingual (NMSEB) corpus (Torres Cacoullos & Travis, In Preparation) comprises 31 interviews, for a total of 29 hours of speech, approximately 340,000 words. NMSEB is unique in its roughly even distribution of speech produced in Spanish and English, by the same speakers in the same conversations. In addition to single other-language words, NMSEB records copious switching between multi-word strings of Spanish and English (Travis & Torres Cacoullos 2013, Torres Cacoullos & Travis 2015b).

Interview Experiences

journal thumbnailRead about some of the experiences of our interviewers in our Spanglish Project 2011 journal.