New Perspectives on Current Sociolinguistic Knowledge with Regard to Language Use, Proficiency, and Attitudes Among Hispanics in the U. S.the Case of a Rural Northern California Community

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Three areas form the core of this study: patterns of language use in various functional categories for three generations of Hispanics; patterns of proficiency in English and Spanish for each generation; and conscious efforts and attitudes of individuals toward the maintenance of Spanish and various other linguistic and political topics. The Hispanic community of Fortuna, California has never been studied from a sociolinguistic perspective, yet it holds many characteristics that make it a revealing and unique case study. It is isolated from large cities and from other Hispanic communities, it is distant from the Mexican border, and it is a community of Hispanics of diverse origins. Given the unique profile of the community, this study offers new perspectives and new language models to the field of sociolinguistics.


“. . . provides an excellent and thorough review of the literature regarding language maintenance and shift, particularly with respect to U. S. Spanish speaking communities, and provides a detailed historical and social profile of the community under examination in her study. . . . Dr. Rivera-Mills’ own innovative design, employing both qualitative and quantitative research techniques, allows her to tap deeper into the social, cultural and linguistic factors underlying the shift to English in the inter-ethnic Hispanic Fortuna, Caifornia community. . . . the implications of Dr. Rivera-Mills’ work go beyond the scope of the sociolinguistic arena.” – Patricia MacGregor-Mendoza

“This research has obvious implications for Spanish-language media, which in many cities face a multi-dialectal audience. It also contributes to the knowledge base required for effective Spanish-language and bilingual education programs in the united States. Finally, it offers a friendly challenge to include other heterogeneous speech communities in the analysis of U. S. Spanish.” – John M. Lipski

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword, Preface
Introduction: Issues in Language Maintenance and Shift
1. Language Shift in Fortuna, California – A Plan of Study
2. Fortuna in Context
3. Language Proficiency
4. Language Use
5. Attitudes Among Hispanics in Fortuna
6. Conclusion
Appendix, Bibliography, Indices

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