Berkeley Voices: Justin Davidson's (Spanish & Portuguese) Quest to Legitimize U.S. Spanish

March 29, 2024

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE.(link is external)

Spanish speakers in the United States, among linguists and non-linguists, have been denigrated for the way that they speak, says UC Berkeley sociolinguist Justin Davidson. It's part of the country's long history of scrutiny of non-monolingual English speakers, he says, dating back to the early 20th century.

"It's groups in power, its discourses and collective communities, that sort of socially determine what kinds of words and what kinds of language are acceptable and unacceptable," says Davidson, an associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

But the U.S. is a Spanish-speaking country, he says, and it's time for us as a nation to embrace U.S. Spanish as a legitimate language variety.

This is the first episode of a three-part series with Davidson about language in the U.S. In the next episode, we'll discuss language bias — how we all have it, where it comes from and the devastating consequences it can have.