Call for help: Spanish Variation in the U.S.

Dr. Adam Schwartz (University of South Florida) and Dr. Ana Celia Zentella (University of California-San Diego) are developing a new database entitled:

SPANISH LANGUAGE VARIETIES IN THE US: A project to archive community, cultural and educational resources

Their goal is to establish a corpus that reflects the range of Spanish varieties spoken in this country, including, importantly those which are native to the U.S.   They are asking anyone who has access to data that could be included in the database to fill out the following questionnaire.  For everybody else, they’re asking you to distribute this questionnaire widely!   You should complete the following questions and return them to or to .


Your name, institution and contact information:

1.)  If you have data or access to data appropriate for this project, would you be willing/able to add your collection to such a database?  And if not, why not?

2.)  With respect to your data set, please outline details on the speakers catalogued, below.

a.     How many recordings do you have available?

b.     What dialect[s]/variety[ies] do your informants speak?  We are aware that answers may be rather subjective, if not multiple.

c.     Of what ethnic background are your informants?  [birthplace, age/generation, gender, education, class?]

d.     Are they first, second, third, fourth… generation US residents/citizens?

e.     How were the informants selected?

f.     How are speech samples organized (e.g. interview? read text?)? 

g.     Who conducts the interviews? (i.e. compatriots, others, Are they known to the interviewee? Or not?)

h.     In what format are the recordings available (audiotape, digital, video)? 

i.     Approximately how long is each recording? 

j.     Approximately how many hours total?

k.     Do you have the speakers’ permission to share anonymous portions of their recordings, or were they collected before IRB consent forms were required?

l.     Is your data set protected by the IRB at your current institution?  If not, which institution granted the initial approval?  Would your current institution’s IRB allow you to share your data for the purposes of this study?

This is a great project that addresses a major gap in the research on Spanish linguistics (U.S. variation).  Much work has been done on English language variation, and that work has been helped in no small part by similar databases at U. Penn, UGA, and NCSU.  Please address any questions about this project to Drs. Schwartz and Zentella.  Let’s see if we can get this project off the ground!


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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