The evolution of the English language in daily life in Puerto Rico : a socio-historical analysis of recent events and their impact
Ruiz Correa, Sandra.
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The English language has been present in Puerto Rico since the mid-19th Century when contact between the U.S. and the island commenced by means of trade. However, with the arrival of the U.S. troops at the end of the 19th century, the use of the English language changed drastically. Although many attempts were made in those first decades to Americanize the Puerto Ricans, these ultimately failed due to their strong cultural and political ideologies. This cultural-political resistance persisted throughout the majority of the first century of the U.S. control of the island, however, in the past three decades, the proliferation of English speakers who are native to the island has grown significantly, along with the use of the language in daily life. To understand how and why these changes have occurred, we must identify the major socio-cultural changes which have taken place on the island from the 1970s to the present. The major technological advances, the phenomenon of globalization, and the major socio-cultural changes which have occurred within this period cleared the path for the insertion of English into daily life outside of the ESL classroom. Dominguez’ (2012) dissertation served as the motivating catalyst for my research, when in her concluding remarks she states that “the two cultures present on the island (Puerto Rican and American) seem to be entwining and creating a syncretic new variety unique to the island” (p.133). By means of the socio-historical approach I will analyze data which attest to how the presence of the English language has been on the rise since the 1970s, with a sharp upturn since the introduction of the internet on the island in the mid to late 1990s. Upon completing this analysis, I will briefly summarize my work with special attention to the possible implications of my findings for language planning and policy on the island, as well as for ethnolinguistic identity and language loyalty in Puerto Rican society.