Spanish as a Heritage Language in the US
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Description: Around 22% of the U.S. population are multilingual. Yet, the U.S. are characterized by pervasive monolingual ideologies. We conducted a corpus-assisted discourse study to investigate whether – and how – monolingual ideologies and their effects manifest in social media representations of Spanish as a heritage language. We analysed two corpora (one English, one Spanish – over 30 million words in total) consisting of recent Twitter data. We examined frequencies, collocations, concordance lines, and larger text segments. The results revealed abundant evidence of normative monolingualism (drawing on the one-nation-one-language ideology and language purity ideologies) as well as raciolinguistic ideologies. We discuss how the semiotic processes of iconization and erasure lead to the (evidently erroneous) essentialisation of Spanish heritage language speakers as a homogeneous group of un-American, racialized immigrants with broken language. This discursive creation of difference constitutes the basis for the systematic discrimination of Spanish heritage language speakers, thus reflecting and reproducing social inequality.