Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures


Cecelia Cutler

Committee Members

Cecelia Cutler

Jose del Valle

Miki Makihara

Subject Categories

Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Language and Literacy Education | Latin American Languages and Societies


language ideologies, migration, language representations, gender, labor, Spanish, English


The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the linguistic ideologies that Mexican migrants bring when migrating and reproduce in their daily interactions with other Spanish and English speakers, as well as the representations of the language presented in their linguistic behaviors. This work presents an intersectional analysis where the factors of gender, migratory status, education, and work are determining factors in the adoption, maintenance, and reproduction of language ideologies, which affect the linguistic decisions of the speakers in their use of Spanish, learning of English and the support of bilingualism. Based on the stereotypical idea of Spanish as the language of the home, migrants reflect on their beliefs about which language their children should speak depending on what situations or imaginary communities they must respond to. These reflections cause internal conflicts in the speaker, where the languages in tension (English and Spanish) represent the power and authority within the homes of these migrants. Likewise, the conflict in the linguistic hegemony of both languages at home contrasts with the reality in New York society. These ideas and beliefs will determine the transmission and maintenance of Spanish in the second generation or the maintenance of bilingualism. As part of the discussion that Mexican migrants do not learn English, the results of my research show that migrants do speak the language but that the reasons that made them migrate position this issue as not essential, which has perpetuated the stereotype that these migrants do not acculturate. For Mexican adults, having a good job is the most important thing, which becomes their means of obtaining an economic income, their place of socialization, and learning English as well. Access to these extra benefits is limited by gender, as women perform very different jobs than men, which delays their access to the language spoken in public life in this country and the opportunity to socialize with a diverse group of people. The final contribution of my research is that we must address all the factors that shape the conditions in which Mexicans live, work, and develop to have a better understanding of the linguistic decisions they make. That results in their linguistic competence and the validation of their children as speakers.