Bilingual and Spanish Language Media in the U.S. as a Language Maintenance Tool Among Latinx Communities

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Ana Sánchez-Muñoz
Jessica Retis


In this paper, we discuss the status and vitality of Spanish in the U.S., including the presence and characteristics of Spanish-language communicative spaces, including the media and other digital venues. Given the discrimination that many Latinx Spanish speakers suffer in the U.S., for example, through English-only initiatives or restrictive language policies, we draw attention to the important role that communicative spaces such as media have in this country for promoting and aiding the maintenance of heritage and minority languages. We also critique the monolingual assumptions that there are only certain types of “correct” language, in this case, standard Spanish or “Walter Cronkite Spanish,” which implies a variety as it is used in a country where the official language is Spanish (e.g., Mexico or Colombia). We are interested in looking at how Spanish is used and promoted and the role of U.S. media in contexts where audiences are mostly bilingual. We argue that U.S. Spanish, as it is spoken by Chicanx/Latinx speakers, has been historically undervalued or underrepresented in the media, thus perpetuating monolingual ideologies that do not serve bilingual and multilingual audiences and indeed affect the perception of local varieties of Spanish and their speakers. With the advent of new technologies and the sociodemographic transformation of Latinx audiences, new media production in U.S. Spanish, Spanglish, and other local varieties have the potential of serving as an important tool to combat language loss due to linguistic discrimination and harmful hegemonic monolingual ideologies.

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