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Research Project – Spanish in the U.S.

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In attempting to create pan-ethnic terms of identification, we must recognize the erasure that can happen. Language is contextual and contested, and my rule is to mirror the language of any person who self-identifies. This is relatively easy in one-on-one conversation, but more challenging when navigating information systems. If you are interested in getting involved in changing these systems, I highly recommend the documentary Change the Subject about a group of Dartmouth students who challenged anti-immigrant language in the Library of Congress subject headings. 

Subject Headings

Each database or information system has made decisions about its controlled vocabulary to organize items into groups. Language is ever-changing and fallible, however, so it's essential to take note of the vocabulary being used by the system you are trying to navigate.

For example, the Library of Congress (LC) includes subject headings for Latin Americans--United States, Hispanic Americans, and Spanish Americans. While Latinos/Latinx is cross-referenced to Hispanic Americans, it is not its own subject heading.

Keyword Searching

Keyword searching relies on the accuracy of your search. For example, if I search LatinX, the results will exclude any results that do not include that word, and Latina and Latino results will be excluded.

Truncation can help your search! Using Latin* (word with an asterisk) will catch any word that starts with "Latin" and ends with other letters. This search is inclusive of Latine, Latinx, Latina, and Latino.

Locating Academic References

Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts

Your best friend for sociolinguistic research. It contains reliable, high-quality resources that have been vetted by experts in the field. 

Not every record in this database contains full text, but they all (or most all) can be requested through Interlibrary Loan.

Each article record will give you some clues for future searches.

screenshot of article record

MLA Formatting and Spanish Language (9th Edition)

Capitalization of terms in Spanish [2.69]

Spanish capitalization is the same as English capitalization EXCEPT

  • the subject pronoun yo
  • the names of months of the year and days of the week
  • the names of languages and nationalities
  • nouns and adjectives derived from proper nouns
  • titles preceding personal names
  • the words meaning street, square, and so on in most place-names

(unless they begin sentences).

Surnames used alone in Spanish [2.78]

  • the Spanish de is usually not treated as part of the surname
  • The Spanish del is capitalized and treated as part of the surname
  • Spanish surnames may include both the paternal name and the maternal name, consult a biographical dictionary for guidance in distinguishing surnames and given names.

Capitalizing titles in Spanish [2.95]

Capitalize only the first word and all words normally capitalized in prose.