This volume--along with its companion Ethnolinguistic Chicago: Language and Literacy in the City's Neighborhoods--fills an important gap in research on Chicago and, more generally, on language use in globalized metropolitan areas. Often cited as a quintessential American city, Chicago is, and always has been, a city of immigrants. It is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the United States and home to one of the largest and most diverse Latino communities. Although language is unquestionably central to social identity, and Chicago has been well studied by scholars interested in ethnicity, until now no one has focused--as do the contributors to these volumes--on the related issues of language and ethnicity.
Latino Language and Literacy in Ethnolinguistic Chicago includes:
ethnographic studies based in home settings that focus on ways of speaking and literacy practices;
studies that explore oral language use and literacy practices in school contexts; and
studies based in community spaces in various neighborhoods.
It offers a rich set of portraits emphasizing language use as centrally related to ethnic, class, or gender identities. As such, it is relevant for anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, historians, educators and educational researchers, and others whose concerns require an understanding of "ground-level" phenomena relevant to contemporary social issues, and as a text for courses in these areas.
This book, along with its companion, Elhnolinguistic Chicago: Language and Literacy in the City's Neighborhoods (Farr, 2004), fills an important gap in research on Chicago and, more generally, on language use in globalized metropolitan areas. Although Chicago has been fairly well studied by scholars interested in ethnicity, including sociologists (Massey & Denton, 1993; Wilson, 1987) and historians (Holli & Jones 1977/1984/1995), few studies have focused on language and ethnicity in Chicago. This is so despite the well-known fact that Chicago, one of the most linguistically and ethnically diverse cities in the United States, often is cited as an archetypical American city. Certainly, Chicago is, and always has been, a city of immigrants (and migrants arriving from other parts of the United States). Moreover, language is unquestionably central to social identity because how we talk constructs for ourselves and others who we are.
This book is structured into four parts. Part I contains an Introduction to the volume by myself and Elias Domínguez Barajas. Part II of the book contains studies carried out Within the Family Circle. These studies, based in home settings, focus either on ways of speaking (Farr on direct speech among ranchero Mexicans and Domínguez Barajas on Mexican proverb use) or on literacy practices (Del Valle on contrasting literacy practices in two Puerto Rican families). Part HI comprises chapters that explore either oral language use or literacy practices in school contexts. Two chapters investigate oral language use in a dual-immersion school (Olmedo on children as language mediators and Potowski on identity investments in the use of Spanish or English), and two others investigate literacy, either in Internet chat rooms (Cohen on identity development among high school girls via the Internet) or in college composition classes (Spicer-Escalante on rhetoric and identity in college essays). Part IV of the book includes studies based in Community Spaces in various neighborhoods. Two chapters in this part of the book focus on adults in community literacy groups (Hurtig on Mexican immigrant mothers as writers and Colomb on Mexican immigrant mothers reading literature in Spanish). Two other chapters deal with religious literacy (Farr on a Mexican Charismatic Catholic woman and Gelb on a Puerto Rican Santería practitioner and store owner). Finally, two chapters are based in work settings (Gelb again and Herrick on intraethnic communication in a factory). Finally, an Afterword by Ralph Cintron situates these studies within the larger context of Latinos in Chicago.
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