Is That What I Sound Like When I Speak?: Attitudes Towards Spanish, English, and Code-Switching in Two Texas Border Towns
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The present study observes and compares the language attitudes towards standard English, standard Spanish, and code-switching in two U.S. and Mexico border cities (Laredo and Edinburg) by employing the matched-guise technique Three attribute dimensions (solidarity, status, and personal appeal) were used by participants to evaluate the three varieties in question. Situated just 150 miles from one another, Laredo and Edinburg are both border cities with a majority Hispanic-origin population. Yet, the histories of Laredo and Edinburg differ: while Laredo was a fully established community before the arrival of the Anglos in the 19^(th) century and succeeded in protecting its lands from Anglo encroachment, the Hispanic population where Edinburg is located suffered land loss during the same time . The present study examined if these historical differences have had consequences on the contemporary linguistic attitudes in these two cities. For the matched-guise experiment, an original code-switching recording was produced in Spanish and English versions. These three texts went through grammaticality testing and were then recorded by four Mexican American bilingual speakers, two males and two females. Ninety-six participants from Laredo and ninety-one participants from Edinburg answered a demographic questionnaire and then were told to listen and evaluate each voice on a list of characteristics grouped into the three dimensions mentioned above (solidarity, status, and personal appeal), unaware that they were in fact listening to bilingual speakers speaking in different language varieties. Code-switching received the lowest evaluations in all three dimensions. Also, Spanish and English were judged relatively the same in status and personal appeal, but Spanish ranked much higher than both code-switching and standard English in solidarity. When the variables of speaker and student gender were considered, differences emerged in the evaluations within and between both cities. In regards to the differences found between locations, female students from Edinburg appear to be more tolerant towards code-switching than female students in Laredo, particularly when the speaker is male. Edinburg males also appear to evaluate females who speak English higher than Laredo male students. Yet at the same time these same male students evaluate males who use English less favorably in solidarity and higher in personal appeal, while the Laredo males display the inverse tendency. The fact that differences between locations were found upon considering the speakers? and students? gender indicates that differing linguistic attitudes exist among residents in the South Texas region and deserves further investigation.