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ERIC Number: ED532464
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 256
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-6263-0
Perceptions of Dominican Spanish and Dominican Self-Perception in the Puerto Rican Diaspora
Budenbender, Eva-Maria Suarez
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
The contact between Dominicans and Puerto Ricans is targeted for study as much for its linguistic import as for its social context. Dominican and Puerto Rican Spanish are considered varieties of Caribbean Spanish that differ only by a few phonological and syntactic patterns and a small number of lexical items. Although both varieties are heavily stigmatized within the Spanish-speaking world, previous work in Puerto Rico has found a wide-spread discrimination of Dominican Spanish and it speakers. At the same time, Dominican immigrants often are phenotypically dark, possess limited formal education, and as immigrants are also socially and economically disadvantaged relative to their Puerto Rican San Juan cohabitants. These facts beg the question of whether and to what extent Puerto Ricans' attitudes towards Dominican Spanish truly are based on linguistic differences. Social and racial prejudices cannot always be expressed freely. The possibility exists that they could reemerge as negative evaluations of Dominican Spanish. The aim of the present research includes the following: (1) to uncover linguistic variables that are used in the identification of a speaker's origin (Puerto Rican vs. Dominican); (2) to examine whether Puerto Ricans' attitudes and perceptions of Dominican immigrants living in Puerto Rico are reflected in the evaluation of Dominican Spanish; (3) to determine the effects of these attitudes on the perceptions of Dominicans towards their own dialect. A sociolinguistic questionnaire and survey were administered to tap into the perceptions of linguistic differences among members of both groups and to uncover the possible emergence of linguistic insecurity among Dominican immigrants in Puerto Rico, and a verbal guise experiment examined the importance of perceived nationality and social class of a speaker in Puerto Ricans' evaluations of Dominican Spanish. The results of the present study reveal that Puerto Ricans frequently cite dialectal differences as their main means of identifying Dominicans. However, the results of the verbal guise experiment imply that although linguistic differences are decisive in the identification of national origin, ratings on social, educational, and personal attributes are influenced by prejudicial notions of socioeconomic and educational background. Similarly, ratings on perception of "correctness" and "pleasantness" of Dominican Spanish as compared to Puerto Rican Spanish indicate social profiling. Accordingly, this research provides insights into the consequences of social prejudice on the perception of and attitudes towards minority language variants and their speakers. The study also develops a deeper understanding of the social sources of the emergence of linguistic insecurity among minority immigrant groups as compared to those remaining in their native country. The results of the survey comparing Dominican linguistic insecurity reveal that linguistic insecurity among Dominicans in Puerto Rico decreases compared to that of the group examined in the Dominican Republic. Two possible reasons for the decrease of Dominican linguistic insecurity are put forth. It is probable that the Dominican speakers' recognition of a high degree of similarity between both varieties leads to perceptions of equality between these two dialects, a situation that is also unlikely to trigger linguistic insecurity. There is supporting evidence in the data for the argument that the recognition of linguistic similarity leads to a sense of solidarity among some Dominicans. This is likely to be compounded by the low prestige given to Caribbean varieties cross-dialectally in comparison to more prestigious varieties in South America and Spain. Awareness of the stigmatization of both varieties on the part of the speakers is not thought to rouse linguistic insecurity among Dominicans. In sum, the present results reveal that contact between these two equally disparaged varieties does not incur the same degree of linguistic insecurity among Dominicans that can be observed in cases of contact where a minority variety is in contact with a cross-dialectally more prestigious variety. Moreover, the evidence suggests that in spite of the prejudicial environment in Puerto Rico, Dominicans embrace their cultural beliefs and national identity. Within the present data, Dominican emigres in Puerto Rico hold fast to their identity. The outcome of the survey indicates that the native accent remains a highly salient component of Dominican identity. These results fall in line with previous work on Dominican immigrant communities in the U.S. In sum, Dominican linguistic insecurity does not appear to increase and simultaneously the link between identity and language is maintained in spite of contact with an environment of social and linguistic prejudice. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Puerto Rico