Thèse : The diachrony of New Mexican Spanish, 1683–1926: Philology, corpus linguistics and dialect change


  • Sanz, Israel
  • Craddock, Jerry R. Directeur
  • Azevedo, Milton M. Directeur


As the oldest variety of Spanish in the United States, New Mexican Spanish has merited a sizable body of descriptive literature. However, there is still a dearth of studies on its history. Consequently, many of the earlier approaches perpetuate the belief that New Mexican Spanish bears a close resemblance to the language of the colonial settlers. This assumption has remained largely untested, despite the vast amount of documentation produced by the speakers of this variety during its four centuries of existence. This study contributes to fill this gap in the literature, as well as to reposition New Mexican Spanish as a productive field in which to study the interplay between social and linguistic factors in determining dialect change within Latin American Spanish. Theoretically and methodologically, this investigation draws on philology, corpus linguistics, theoretical dialectology and historical sociolinguistics.

A multi-generic corpus of 216 documents, with a total length of over 92,000 words, constitutes the empirical basis for this study. It is the largest corpus to date representing this variety of Spanish to be studied from a linguistic perspective. The documents were written between 1683 and 1926, thus covering the whole period between the second resettlement of the area by Spanish speakers and the time by which academic descriptions of the dialect start to appear. The evolution of ten phonological and morphological variables and features in the corpus is quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. As a result, it is demonstrated that New Mexican Spanish has undergone several significant changes in its history, and that these changes can be attributed to the specifics of the social evolution of the community. Furthermore, it is shown that written documents can be used productively in the study of dialect change, provided that the information that they yield is used critically to determine whether it corresponds to the actual linguistic behavior of the community or also to other sociocultural factors affecting the form of written language. Most importantly, this study constitutes an example of the many possibilities of application of theoretical dialectology to the available archival data to improve our knowledge of the history of Latin American Spanish.

Informations pratiques

  • Berkeley : University of California, 2009
  • 1 vol. (XIII, 793 p.)
  • PhD : Hispanic Languages and Literatures : University of California : 2009

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de la valorisation et des données de la recherche > Coordination de la recherche > Délégation à la Stratégie et à la recherche > Bibliothèque nationale de France

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