José del Valle, in his contribution to our “Sociolinguistic Frontiers” series, looks at the intersection of the sociolinguistic study of Spanish in the US and the transformations of Spanish language departments in higher education. Del Valle traces the history of the institutionalization of Spanish teaching and study and its effects on linguistic research’s position within Spanish departments. Shifts in approaches to the use of language in social practice, and the growing demands on language units to act as service departments for language learners, has isolated scholars in those institutional homes from broader integration into sociolinguistic research.
José del Valle
José del Valle is professor of Latin American, Iberian, and Latino cultures at The Graduate Center, CUNY. He is affiliated with the PhD program in Latin American, Iberian and Latino cultures and with the PhD program in linguistics. He received his licenciatura in 1988 from the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain; his MA in 1990 from the State University of New York at Buffalo; and his PhD in 1994 from Georgetown University (Washington, DC). In 2010, he received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his research accomplishments.
As a result of his doctoral work—which straddled the fields of socio-historical linguistics, language change theory, and the history of Ibero-Romance—he published El trueque s/x en español antiguo. Aproximaciones teóricas [The s/x Change in Old Spanish: Theoretical Approaches] (Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1996). Later, the scope of his research further expanded toward glottopolitical studies, linguistic inequality, and a focus on linguistic ideologies, normativity and the institutionalization of language. His publications include: The Battle over Spanish between 1800 and 2000: Language Ideologies and Hispanic Intellectuals (coedited with Luis Gabriel-Stheeman; Routledge, 2002); an expanded Spanish edition of this book, La batalla del idioma: la intelectualidad hispánica ante la lengua (Vervuert/Iberoamericana, 2004); La lengua ¿patria común? Ideas e ideologías del español (edited, Vervuert/Iberamericana, 2007); A Political History of Spanish: The Making of a Language (edited, Cambridge University Press, 2013); and a Spanish edition of the latter, Historia política del español: la creación de una lengua (Aluvión, 2016).