Over the past 20 years, economic and political challenges have led millions of Central Americans to emigrate to the US, making them one of the fastest-growing groups of immigrants arriving in the country. Among them, those of Guatemalan origin have experienced one of the largest increases (from 400,000 in 2000 to over 1.8 million in 2021). Despite these high numbers of Central Americans in our region, we know very little about the characteristics of their Spanish, including the impact of long-term contact with English –which often leads to language change– or the status of inter-generational heritage language transmission.

This project analyzes how the language (and the culture) of Guatemalans based in Trenton, NJ, might have changed over three generations of speakers: parents, children, and grandchildren.

If you’re interested in issues related to migration, Latinos, and language, you will enjoy being a part of this project! Your tasks will include coding and analyzing data from sociolinguistic interviews and two linguistic experiments. If interested, students will be encouraged to choose aspects from the data sample that interest them to conduct further independent research (overseen by the faculty mentor).

Keywords/Areas of Study: Migration, Latinos, language, linguistics, Spanish, Central America

Hourly Time Commitment (Per Week): 5-10 hours per week

Length of Commitment: semester (might be renewed based on student performance and availability)

Modality: Hybrid

Type of Opportunity:

  • Paid (e.g., Federal Work Study, funded research assistant)
  • Volunteer (e.g., research assistant)

Start Date: Fall 2024

Minimum Requirements: Conversational knowledge of Spanish is required but no need to have had any formal classes in the language. If unsure of your eligibility/skills, feel free to send an e-mail to discuss :)

Contact Faculty Lead:
Silvia Perez-Cortes
World Languages and Cultures (Spanish)
Contact: sp1019@camden.rutgers.edu
Need help? Download an email letter template (PDF).

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