Valeria Valencia - International Institute

Report
PUREPECHA HERITAGE
SPEAKERS’ LINGUISTIC
BIOGRAPHIES. A CONTRASTIVE
CASE STUDY OF PUREPECHA
HERITAGE SPEAKERS BORN IN
U.S. VERSUS BORN IN
MEXICO.
THE
Valeria Valencia
Applied Linguistics
University of California, Los Angeles
Seventh Heritage Language Institute
THE PURPOSE OF THIS RESEARCH IS:
To explore the language ideologies of Purepecha
heritage speakers around Purepecha, Spanish
and English


To examine how these speakers’ language
ideologies have an impact on their linguistic
choices: everyday language use, language
acquisition and/or maintenance.
To analyze how these language ideologies
influence their Purepecha, Mexican, Latino
and/or American identities.
CURRENT LINGUISTIC SITUATION OF
THE PUREPECHA COMMUNITY IN
MEXICO AND THE U.S.


The 2010 Mexican Census points out that there
are around 100, 000 Purepecha speakers in
Mexico settled mainly in the state of Michoacán.
The Mexican census only accounts for language
proficiency, there is no way of knowing how many
individuals of Purepecha origin are mainly
heritage speakers and have shifted to Spanish.

The 2010 U.S. Census points out the existence of
2,397 people of Purepecha origin in the U.S.
Only 470 acknowledge being Purepecha speakers.
 60% Purepecha heritage speakers



Almost half of them are settled in different parts
of California, alone.
Other U.S. states are Illinois, Oregon, Texas,
North Carolina, Colorado, Nuevo Mexico, Arizona
and Washington
PUREPECHA HERITAGE
SPEAKERS BORN IN MEXICO
Flor
(52 yeas old)
Rosendo
(55 years old)
Justino
(45 years old)
Came to U.S.
17 years old
20 years old
21 years old
Purepecha
proficiency
Higher listening
comprehension
Higher listening
comprehension
Higher listening
comprehension
Spanish
Native proficiency
Native proficiency
Native proficiency
English
Basic
comprehension
and fluency
60%
Basic
comprehension
and fluency
While growing up Spanish
parents addressed
interviewee in
Spanish
Spanish
Education
Language
6th grade
Spanish
High school
Spanish
High school
Spanish
Spouse’s ethnicity
Purepecha
Heritage
Purepecha
Heritage
Mexican Mestizo
Purepecha
Flor
Rosendo
Justino
Oral
proficiency
Basic greetings and
goodbyes
Purepecha songs
Basic conversation
Purepecha songs
Basic greetings and
goodbyes
Flirting phrases,
poems
Listening
Comprehension
50%
60%
50%
Literacy
None
None
Some
English
Flor
Rosendo
Justino
Education
Training for immigration
exam
High school
Adult school
High school
Adult school
Purepecha
Purepecha
Language
Purepecha
Parents
Addressed each
other
LANGUAGE THAT INTERVIEWEES’
CHILDREN SPEAK
Flor
Rosendo
Justino
1st language
Spanish
Spanish
Spanish
2nd language
English
English
English
Purepecha
None
Some
None
English and
Spanish
English
Language
English and
mainly used
Spanish
among children

Shift to Spanish in Mexico
Some exposure to English in Mexico.
 Acquisition of English in the U.S.

Incidental Purepecha acquisition in hometown
and at home.
 In the U.S. little additional efforts to acquire
Purepecha

PUREPECHA HERITAGE
SPEAKERS BORN AND RAISED IN
U.S.
Omar
(31 yeas old)
Jessica
(20 years old)
Ireri
(30 years old)
Came to U.S.
Born in California
Went to Cherán
when he was 2
Born in California
Born in Michoacan.
Came to the U.S. at
age of 5
Purepecha
proficiency
Higher listening
comprehension
Common phrases for
pragmatic purposes.
Such as greetings,
goodbyes, etc.
High listening
comprehension.
Mid-high oral
proficiency
Basic listening
comprehension
Basic oral
proficiency
Spanish
Native proficiency
High proficiency
High proficiency
English
High proficiency
Native proficiency
Native proficiency
While growing up
parents addressed
interviewee in
Spanish
Spanish
Spanish
Education
Language
6th grade Spanish
English middle
school and up
English
English
Spouse’s ethnicity
Purepecha
Heritage
NA
Native American
Purepecha
Omar
Jessica
Ireri
Oral
proficiency
Basic greetings and
goodbyes
Purepecha songs
Intermediate
conversation
Basic greetings
and goodbyes
Listening
Comprehension
50%
60%
50%
Literacy
Some
None
None
Language
Parents
Addressed each
other
Spanish
Spanish and
Purepecha
Spanish

Shift to Spanish at home

Acquisition of English in the U.S. at school.

Some efforts to acquire Purepecha
LANGUAGE IDEOLOGIES AROUND
INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES IN MÉXICO

Originally colonial language ideologies, mark a
sharp opposition between:
Spanish  as a language associated with
civilization and education
Versus
Mexican Indigenous Languages  generally
associated with savagery, primitiveness and
ignorance (Van Dijk, 2005, p. 84).
IDEOLOGIES ABOUT PUREPECHA
JUSTINO AND LUCIO
Justino: Purepecha is a dialect not a language.
Spanish is a language, English, French are
languages. The difference is that certain ethnic
groups speak it [...] like now in Michoacan.
Lucio: In my understanding dialects are, for
example... In Mexico different dialects are
spoken. The country was divided into several
languages.
Justino: No, dialects.
Lucio: Yes, dialects! ...and with the Spanish
conquest the dialects started to disappear.
RACIALIZATION OF INDIGENOUS SPEECH
AND SPEAKERS
Rosendo:
 “There are people who are my same age (me
included) that are ashamed of our origin. There
are people that say, uhm, for example, who try to
pretend to be from the largest city in the state.
[and for example]
-‘Where are you from?’ -‘I am from Morelia or
Uruapan’.
No. I always say: -‘I am from Cherán’. You know,
they used to tell me: -‘Oh, so you are ‘Indio’?’
-‘No, I am not Indio. I am from an indigenous
community, which is different, all right?’
LANGUAGE IDEOLOGIES OF
PUREPECHA BORN IN THE U.S.
IRERI

“Well my dad says that my grandfather tried to teach
him words in Purepecha, but never showed much
interest. Especially because he started migrating here
(the U.S.) when he was nineteen years old, when they
were young, my dad and his brothers. So they were
more interested in learning English and never paid
much attention to their parents or to try to
understand [Purepecha]. My paternal grandfather [...]
never wanted to teach their children much either
because he had come to work here in California since
the Bracero Program… And he felt ashamed. He felt
like they [other non-Purepecha Mexican] would make
fun of him and his children for speaking a language
that other Mexican, who were also peasants, did not
understand”
TO SUMMARIZE:



Interviewees distance themselves from racialized ideologies
about their heritage language
Because of language policies interviewees had no education in
their heritage language. Spanish had a higher value both in
school and at home as parents did not speak Purepecha with
them.
The added physical distance after immigrating to the U.S. leaves
little opportunities to link Purepecha to a Purepecha community
identity. Interviewees’ children opt for Spanish and English
primarily and not Purepecha.
THANK YOU!
SUGGESTIONS, QUESTIONS AND
COMMENTS WELCOME
Contact info: [email protected]

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