Linguistic imperialism, resistance and appropriation : a path-dependent test case of English language policy in Puerto Rico
Aponte Andújar, Pierucci
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This is a Master’s research paper which deals with the English language policy process of continuity and discontinuity in Puerto Rico through a path-dependent framework developed by the social sciences. The path-dependent framework uses a two route explanation: first, the self-enforcing sequence which includes the state rationalization and Americanization efforts by the United States for more than a forty year span after the Spanish American War and the Reactive Sequence, which opened up two routes from the same Resistance stem: Puertorricanization and Bilingualism. The latter belongs to an internal squabble between two insular political parties, going back to the creation of a bipartisan political system in the early seventies, and still is currently in vogue, as each party tries to solve the status question by winning elections and promoting or demoting the English language issue. This research essay investigates one method of comparative history, a path dependence approach, in order to discover and assess explanations of language change in Puerto Rico. The key idea is that in a sequence of events, the latter events are not completely independent from those that occurred in the past. It is built around the proposition that crucial choice points may establish certain directions of change and foreclose others in a way that shapes language development over long periods of time. Taken as a diachronic one-shot case study, it involves a longitudinal observation, also known as process tracing , subsequent to some background antecedent condition like the Spanish-American War, out of which, the U.S. military occupation initiated the first English language policy change. This paper does not intend to come out as a general political history of the English language in Puerto Rico. Rather, the historical treatment is selective, focused on probing arguments related to the leading thesis about the emergence and impact that the mechanisms of production and reproduction have in a path dependence model upon English language policy changes. To do so, this paper addresses the following questions: What insights can a path dependent approach give us when studying the historical trajectories of language policy stagnation, persistence and change in a Puerto Rican context? What are the processes involved in English language planning and policy in Puerto Rico? What is the correlation between English language issues and the political business cycles in Puerto Rico? This paper raises the above proposed questions to analyze English language policy changes in Puerto Rico.