Spanish Phonetics and Phonology
Semester: Fall 2019
Course number: SPAN 350 (taught in Spanish)
Description: One of the things that distinguishes a language is its sound inventory. If we compare languages we know, such as Spanish and English, it is immediately obvious that there are sounds in one language with no equivalent in the other. For example, the 'rr' in carro doesn't exist in English, and the 'th' sound of the English word thin has no comparable sound in most Spanish dialects. It can also happen that a distinction in one language doesn't exist in the other. Thus, for example, English distinguishes bit and beat, but this distinction isn't perceived by monolingual Spanish speakers. Learning to make and distinguish sounds in a foreign language is no mean feat. This course will familiarize students with the study of Spanish sounds, help improve pronunciation, and increase understanding of dialectal varieties. If you are planning to become a teacher, it will help you become more aware of the difficulties your students face, and improve your teaching effectiveness. We will study how each sound of Spanish is produced, as well as related notions of prosody and intonation. We will also see how sounds integrate into the sound system of Spanish. Finally, we will analyze how sounds vary between different areas of the Spanish-speaking world.
Advanced Grammar for Heritage Speakers
Semester: Fall 2019
Course number: SPAN 304
Description: This is a course meant for heritage learners - students who acquired Spanish naturally at a very early age, from their families and communities, or from living in Spanish-speaking countries, with little formal instruction. Although it is designed as a continuation of SPAN 203, it can be taken without this prerequisite, through the heritage language placement test. The first objective of the course is to expand students' knowledge of structures and vocabulary, so that they can express themselves with confidence about any topic and in any situation, both informal and formal. Another important goal is to help students develop knowledge of standard writing conventions (spelling, stress marks, punctuation, and textual organization). We will also develop metalinguistic skills, that is, the ability to describe the main grammatical features of Spanish. The course will involve several extensive reading assignments, to be completed individually and in groups. If you would like to know more about this and other courses meant for heritage learners, check out this flier or contact me.
Topics: Hispanic Sociolinguistics and Pragmatics
Semester: Spring 2019
Course number: SPAN 462/HISP 607 (stacked, taught in Spanish)
Description: It's impossible to miss that Spanish is not spoken the same way by its 400 million speakers. You may have learned estacionamiento for ‘parking,’ but then discovered Spanish speakers in Texas called it parqueadero instead. Or you may have noticed that some speakers start the word zapato with the same sound as think, while for others it starts with the same sound as sink. Just like other major world languages, Spanish exhibits considerable variation across space and from one social group to another. What’s more, each speaker may deploy different styles, depending on specific communicative needs. The field of sociolinguistics was born out of the goal of understanding and systematizing this variation and explaining how it connects with the evolution of a language over time. In this course, we will explore the various sociolinguistic models of analyzing language variation that have been proposed, and illustrate them through Spanish variation. We will consider questions such as the following: Is there a system in the apparent madness of language variation? Why is Cuban Spanish a dialect of Spanish and Catalan a different language? Is there a ‘better’ Spanish? Why do parents speak differently from their children? Does it matter that women and men talk differently? Can we predict how languages are going to change? How are speakers' attitudes reflected in the way they speak? Our course will include an original research project that you can tailor to your individual interests.
Spanish in the United States
Semester: Fall 2018
Course number: SPAN 462/HISP 606 (stacked, taught in Spanish)
Description: Spanish isn’t new in the United States: in fact, it was the first European language spoken in the country, and is currently native to almost 40 million Americans, who descend from the earliest colonizers and from the multiple waves of later arrivals. This course explores the diversity of US Spanish, from the colonial past until the present, paying special attention to modern-day Texas. We will answer questions such as the following: Who speaks Spanish in the US today? What makes US Spanish unique, special, and interesting? How do US Spanish speakers feel about their language and culture? How has Spanish managed to have more staying power than other languages in the US? Why is Spanish in Texas different from Spanish in New York or Miami? And what's the linguistic situation of Puerto Rico? Our course will include experiential learning (a field trip!) and an original research project involving graduate and undergraduate students, based on the Cushing Library collections of Texas Hispanic musicians and artists.
Intermediate Spanish for Heritage Speakers
Semester: Spring 2020
Course number: SPAN 203
Description: This is a course meant for heritage learners, that is, students who acquired Spanish naturally from a very early age, from their families and communities, or from living in Spanish-speaking countries, but have received little formal instruction in the language. The course is specifically designed for students who have generally good command of the spoken language but are not familiarized with written Spanish. The first objective of the course is to expand students' knowledge of structures and vocabulary, so that they can express themselves with confidence about any topic and in any situation, both informal and formal. Another important goal is to help students develop knowledge of standard writing conventions (spelling, stress marks, punctuation, and textual organization). The course will involve a strong service-learning component, which will give everyone an opportunity to learn through interactions with the Hispanic community of Bryan/College Station. If you would like to know more about this and other courses meant for heritage learners, check out this flier.
Bilingualism in the Spanish-speaking world
Semester: Spring 2020
Course number: HISP 671/SPAN 462 (stacked, taught in Spanish)
Description: The use of more than one linguistic code by one speaker and/or language community is much more widespread than one might think: it is in fact the norm, rather than the exception. Linguists have always been interested in the phenomenon of bilingualism for what it has to tell us about the mental organization of language and about the relations among social groups. This course presents the general features of bilingualism, focusing on Spanish and the languages it comes in contact with, in all the contexts in which it is spoken, including Spain, the Americas, and other places around the globe. Emphasis will be given to Spanish-English contact in the United States, given its importance for the history, present, and future of Texas. We will study the attitudes and response of institutions and schools to bilingualism, as well as the manifestations of the phenomenon in the media and the arts (oral and written press, popular music, literature). All students will be engaged in a research project appropriate to their level and related to their interests.