Spanish 497A: Spanish as a world language (Spring 2003)

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Spanish 497A: Spanish as a world language (Spring 2003)
Instructor: John Lipski

Office: Burrowes N352

Telephone: 865-4252

Office Hours: MWF 8:30-9:30 and by appointment (I'm here every day)


Home page:

Course packet (CP):
Available online at
Note: this is a Microsoft Word document containing some special symbols and graphics; print out some test pages to determine if all symbols are appearing correctly before printing out the entire document.
The accompanying graphics file (maps, charts, text samples) is available online at:

Books on library reserve:
Alvarez Nazario, El elemento afronegroide en el español de Puerto Rico (EAEPR)

Harris, Death of a language (DL)

Lipski, Language of the Isleños (LOI)

Lipski, Latin American Spanish (LAS)

Lipski, Spanish of Equatorial Guinea (SEG)

Mar-Molinero, The Spanish-speaking world (SSW)

Penny, Variation and change in Spanish (VCS)

Silva-Corvalán (ed.), Spanish in four continents (SFC)

Spaulding, How Spanish grew (HSG)

Stewart, The Spanish language today (SLT)

Zamora Vicente, Dialectología española (DE)


This course introduces students to the many varieties of Spanish spoken throughout the world, alone and in contact with other languages. Spanish-speaking regions to be studied include Spain, Gibraltar, North and West Africa, North and South America (including some isolated regions of the United States), the Pacific, southeast Asia, and Judeo-Spanish dialects spoken in eastern Europe, the Middle East, Israel and the United States. The course involves descriptive presentations, historical background leading to the presence of Spanish across six continents, the effects of language contact in the development of the various dialects of Spanish, and the current sociolinguistic situation of Spanish in these regions. Also of importance are the contributions of African, Native American and Asian languages to the development and spread of Spanish in many areas.

Class work:

Class time will be devoted to discussions of readings, analysis of written and recorded samples of various forms of Spanish, occasional short student presentations of readings or analyses. When possible, the class work will be supplemented by videos and visits by Spanish speakers from different parts of the world.


  • Six take-home worksheets designed to analyze specific varieties of Spanish

  • A critical review of a book dealing with a specific variety of Spanish, a language contact situation involving Spanish, or the diversity of Spanish past and present.

  • A notebook containing ongoing observations and notes about varieties of Spanish. This notebook will be checked periodically for a demonstration of note-taking and updating.

  • A final project, consisting of an analysis of a taped interview with a native speaker of Spanish, and covering selected aspects of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. This project will be presented to the class during the final week of the semester.

Detailed instructions on preparing all assignments are contained in the course packet, together with relevant handouts to accompany lectures. All assignments must be typed, and must be turned in on time. Incompletes and extensions will only be given under extraordinary circumstances, usually involving personal illness, and must be authorized in advance. Students should come to class prepared to discuss assigned readings. The final grade will reflect the quality and quantity of participation in class discussions.

Grade breakdown:
Worksheets (6 @ 10%/each): 60%

Book review: 10%

Final project: 20%

Notebook: 5%

Class participation: 5%
Grading scale:
95.0 – 100% A
90.0 – 94.9 % A-
87.7 – 89.9% B+
83.4 – 87.6% B
80.0 – 83.3% B-
75.0 – 79.9% C+
70.0 – 74.9% C
60.0 – 69.9% D
59.9% and below F

The Pennsylvania State University defines academic integrity as the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. All students should act with personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts (Faculty Senate Policy 49-20). Dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated in this course. Dishonesty includes, but is not limited to: cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of their students. Students who are found to be dishonest will receive academic sanctions and will be reported to the University’s Judicial Affairs office for possible further disciplinary sanction. See

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities and is committed to the policy that all people shall have equal access to programs, facilities and admissions without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation in this course or have questions about physical access, please tell the instructor as soon as possible.

Tentative schedule of assignments
Week #1 (January 13): Introduction; the state of Spanish in 1492. Readings: VCS, chap. 1; HSG, chaps. 1-5; SLT, chap. 1.
Week #2 (January 20): Contemporary survivals of early Spanish: Sephardic (Judeo) Spanish. Readings: VCS, chap. 6; DL, chaps. 1, 3, 5, 10; DE, `Judeoespañol'
Week #3 (January 27): Varieties of contemporary Spain: the northern region. Readings: VCS, chap. 4; SSW, chaps. 5-6; DE, `Hablas de tránsito,' browse; J. Lipski, `Castile, La Mancha, Basque Country,’ Asturias, Leon and Cantabria,’ linked to this syllabus on my home page.WORKSHEET #1 HANDED OUT JANUARY 27; DUE JANUARY 29.
Week #4 (February 3): Varieties of contemporary Spain: the south and Canary Islands. Readings: DE, `Andaluz,' browse; J. Lipski, `Canary Islands,’ `Andalusia,’ linked to this syllabus on my home page. NOTEBOOK CHECK, FEBRUARY 5
Week #5 (February 10): Bilingual areas of Spain: Galicia, Cataluña, Basque Country, etc. Spanish in Gibraltar. Readings: SFC, pp. 243-278. WORKSHEET #2 HANDED OUT FEBRUARY 10; DUE FEBRUARY 12.
Week #6 (February 17): The arrival of Spanish in the Americas; profile of settlers and language traits. Readings: VCS, chap. 5; LAS, chap. 2; DE, `El español de América,' browse. NOTEBOOK CHECK, FEBRUARY 19.
Week #7 (February 24): Spanish in contact with indigenous languages: Andean zone and Paraguay. Readings: LAS, chaps. 3, 8, 14, 21, 22. WORKSHEET #3 HANDED OUT FEBRUARY 24; DUE FEBRUARY 26.
Week #8 (March 3): Spanish in contact with indigenous languages: Mexico and Central America. Readings: LAS, chaps. 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. NOTEBOOK CHECK, MARCH 5
Week #9 (March 17): Afro-Hispanic contacts: the early years. Readings: EAEPR, chap. 2. WORKSHEET #4 HANDED OUT MARCH 17; DUE MARCH 19.
Week #10 (March 24): Afro-Hispanic contacts: the Caribbean. Readings: EAEPR, chap. 1; LAS, chaps. 4, 10, 12, 13, 20, 23, 25. NOTEBOOK CHECK, MARCH 26.
Week #11 (March 31): The formation of the Southern Cone dialects. Readings: LAS, chaps. 7, 9, 24. BOOK TITLE SUBMITTED FOR APPROVAL: APRIL 2. WORKSHEET #5 HANDED OUT MARCH 31; DUE APRIL 2.
Week #12 (April 7): Tidepools of leftover Spanish: in the United States, Trinidad, Asia and the Pacific. Readings: LOI, Intro., chaps. 2-4; Appendix; SFW, pp. 293-301.
Week #13 (April 14): Spanish in Asia (cont.). Readings: SLT, chap. 9; J. Lipski, `Chabacano/Spanish, and the Philippine linguistic identity,’ on my home page. BOOK REVIEW DUE: APRIL 16.
Week #14 (April 21): The last colonial frontier: Spanish in north and equatorial Africa. Readings: SEG, chaps. 1, 3; SFC, pp. 281-292; LAS, chap. 5. NOTEBOOK CHECK, APRIL 21; WORKSHEET #6 HANDED OUT APRIL 21; DUE APRIL 23.
Week #15 (April 28): Presentation of projects to the class.
Final project due: Wednesday May 17, 12:00 p. m. (in N352 Burrowes)
Spanish 497A--Guidelines for preparing final project
The final project consists of a taped interview with a native speaker of Spanish (any variety, monolingual, bilingual, etc., as long as Spanish was acquired as a native language). The following components are to be turned in for the final project:
(1) The taped interview (see attached guidelines for preparing and conducting the interviews). The interviewee's consent (see attached consent form) must appear either verbally on the tape or in writing in order for the project to be graded. The tapes will remain with the instructor; if you wish a copy, please turn in a blank tape with the project.
(2) A typed analysis of the speaker's language, to include at least the following:
a. A description of the speaker, including region of birth and/or place where most of childhood was spent, other regions where the speaker has lived extensively and the languages spoken there, approximate age, any other factors which might influence language (e.g. marriage to a person who speaks another language/dialect, volunteer or military service in another country, language usage in the workplace, etc.). Do not give the speaker's name or any other details which might permit the individual to be identified. These are anonymous interviews and the speaker's privacy must be maintained at all times.
b. A description of pronunciation (phonetic traits), especially features which are not found in other varieties of Spanish. You do not have to describe the pronunciation of all sounds; only those whose pronunciation varies from worldwide common denominators. Be sure to indicate the context (word-final, syllable-initial, between vowels, etc.) for each trait.
c. A description of vocabulary items and/or grammatical features which are not commonly found in other varieties of Spanish.
d. Brief but systematic comparisons of the speech of the interviewee with features of the speaker's dialect region as learned in class or in readings (be sure to cite the source of the descriptions).
NOTE: You do not have to be long-winded in carrying out this assignment. A few pages should suffice to cover all the points, some of which can be presented in outline format.

Explanation/consent for recorded interview
Spanish 497A ("Spanish as a world language") is a course in which students learn to describe the many varieties of Spanish spoken throughout the world. Your participation is requested to provide the students with a sample of spoken Spanish. The recorded interview will be used only for the purpose of transcribing and describing the sounds, words, and expressions of Spanish. The student will turn in the tape and analysis for a class grade. If time permits, some tapes may be played to the class for group practice. All recordings are anonymous; your identity will not be revealed to either the instructor or the other members of the class.
If at the end of the interview you object to having the tape used for these purposes, you may request that the tape be erased on the spot. If you consent to the tape being used for the purposes stated above, please state your consent at the end of the recording. My colleagues and I thank you for cooperating in this student project. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.
Spanish 497A ("El español como lengua mundial") es una asignatura en la que los estudiantes tienen como tarea la descripción y la observación de las muchas variedades del español a través del mundo. Se le solicita la participación con el fin de suministrar una muestra de lenguaje hablado. La grabación de la entrevista será utilizada exclusivamente para la transcripción de los sonidos, las palabras y los modismos del español. El estudiante entregará la grabación y el análisis correspondiente como tarea calificable. Si el tiempo lo permite, es posible que algunas grabaciones también sean presentadas ante la clase. Todas las grabaciones son anónimas; en ningún momento se divulgará la identidad de los entrevistados, ni al profesor ni a los otros participantes de la clase.
Si al concluirse la entrevista Ud. prefiere que la grabación no sea empleada para los propósitos antes expuestos, puede pedir que se borre la grabación en el acto. Si Ud. está de acuerdo con que la grabación se utilice como material de estudio, tenga la bondad de afirmar su consentimiento al final de la grabación. Mis colegas y yo le ofrecemos el más profundo agradecimiento por su cooperación. En el caso de que quede alguna duda, le ruego comunicarse conmigo.
John M. Lipski

Professor of Spanish

Dept. of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese

N 352 Burrowes Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

(814) 865-4252


Spanish 497A-Guide for the preparation of taped interviews
Please follow these guidelines carefully. Failure to do so may result in unusable materials, or may cause the project to be returned to be redone.
1. Consent. Be sure to give a copy of the explanation/consent form to the person whom you will interview, before the interview begins. Be sure the person understands the project. At the end of the interview, ask the person to state their consent on the tape. Those who prefer to sign a consent form may do so. Be sure to respect the guarantee of anonymity; do not identify the person in your written presentation, or by any other means.
2. Tapes: Use good quality, 60─minute normal size tape cassettes. Do not use `mini─cassettes' or DAT cassettes or diskettes. Acceptable brands include: Maxell, Memorex, Sony, Scotch, TDK, Fuji, BASF. Unacceptable brands include: Certron, Radio Shack (Realistic), Tone─Master, K Mart, and all `brand X' tapes as used by school systems, government agencies, etc. or as sold unboxed in plastic bags next to the chewing gum and TV Guides. Acceptable tapes can be bought at any drugstore, supermarket, department store, bookstore, etc.. Use only a new tape, and turn the tape in with the plastic box. Do not use junk tapes or those which have been re─recorded; they break, may not record well, and will produce an ungradable product.
3. Recording: Use the best possible quality cassette recorder, if at all possible with an external microphone. The built-in microphones of `boom-box' portable sound systems usually give very poor performance. Try to find a quiet location, with no background music. Place the microphone facing the person being interviewed, but without intruding or poking in the face. It is most useful to lay the recorder and microphone off to the side, so that a more normal conversation can be held. The sooner you can deflect attention away from the tape recorder, the better interview you can get. After finishing, play back a few seconds of the recording to make sure that the tape has been recorded, and that sound quality is acceptable. Do not try to `edit' the tape, just use it as is, ignoring irrelevant or inaudible portions, interruptions, etc. Interviews should be a minimum of 15─20 minutes each; if you get more material, this is even better, although you may not use all of it in your analysis. You will not get full credit for the project if the interview is shorter than 15 minutes.
4. Interview style: Everyone has an individual style and personality, and every interview is the result of the successes and failures of individual personalities. Some interviewees just won't talk, no matter what, and you have to eventually thank them for their time and find somebody else. Others talk very artificially, and give all kinds of misleading information about their own speech and that of others. This may be interesting but is not always useful for a linguistic interview. In conducting the interview, there are more don'ts than do's. Some things that must be avoided: (1) never have the person read from written material or give a prepared or memorized statement; (2) never interview over the telephone; (3) never ask the person to use a `typical' accent or speech form; (4) never give someone a tape and a recorder and ask them to record something alone and bring it back to you; you must be present and conducting the interview; (5) never never make secret or hidden recordings, no matter how great the temptation; (6) never ask (on tape) the person's name, age, religion, and never talk about illegal activities. If the person starts to talk about delicate subjects which could later jeopardize them or that they might later regret, tactfully try to change the subject and/or temporarily stop the recording; (7) never interview classmates of the same course you are making the interview for (you may interview fellow students from other classes). If you interview family members or close friends, do so tactfully and only if you are certain they will not resent it later. With such people, rather than conducting a real interview, you can just continue a normal conversation, always obtaining in advance permission to record the conversation; (8) this must be a real interview; do not simply record a lecture, classroom presentation, public speech, radio program, etc.
The ways of obtaining a successful interview are much more variable, but there are several common denominators. It is best not to focus the attention on the language itself. You can ask about styles and customs in different countries, different areas of this country, etc. This will eliminate some of the self─consciousness and hesitation. As the conversation develops, you can ask questions about particular words or meanings, or ask how people in other regions talk, etc., but it is best not to begin with such questions.
Sometimes a one─to─one interview is clumsy, and if you can get another person or two, preferably from the same group as the interviewee, you can have a group discussion, allowing the others the greatest possible participation. With more than 3─4 people, the noise and interruption factor may get out of hand, so don't try to interview at parties, family dinners, etc.
The key to a good interview is getting the other person to regard it as an informal conversation, rather than a question and answer session. This is difficult to achieve, but the more you can get the other person to talk on a single topic, occasionally prodding them with questions or exclamations, the better will be the results. Good topics to discuss with speakers from other countries are the life and customs of other countries, assuming the interviewee is from another nation. You can ask about foods (fruits, vegetables, soups, desserts, etc.), the ways of celebrating Christmas, Holy Week, the local patron saint's day, the holiday of national independence, etc. You can ask about differences in the school systems (how many grades, how is discipline enforced, are uniforms used, what subjects are studied, etc.), dating customs (can girls go out alone on dates, at what age, do parents `check out' boyfriends first), sports and free time activities, etc. For older or more experienced people, you can ask questions about cultural differences involving the structure of the family, ways of expressing courtesy, etc. You can ask natives of another country about their first experiences in the United States, if what they found was what they expected, etc. Avoid asking them if they like this country or what people in their country think of the USA, since this may prove embarrassing. If you are talking with someone who mentions a particular skill (cooking, knitting, woodworking, etc.) you can ask about preparing some particular thing. People like to talk about their jobs, past or present, and about their plans for the future, for vacation periods, etc.
If you have some personal knowledge about the region of the person being interviewed, or if you have recently heard something on the news, this could lead into a discussion. Sensitive topics such as politics, social problems and religion should be handled only if the person being interviewed initiates the discussion. It is usually safe to ask about relations with neighboring countries, the organization of political parties, and so forth, but it is better to not talk about guerrilla movements, military coups, opposition to the government in power, etc. The person being interviewed may have family members still living in the country or may have arrived in this country under precarious circumstances, and such questions can be frightening.
Above all, thank the person for their time, tell them how helpful their participation has been to your studies, and assure them that in no instance will the tapes be used to make fun of them as individuals or their culture as a group, nor will their identity ever be disclosed.

Spanish 497A--guidelines for preparation of book review
(1) Pick a book at least 100 pages long dealing with some variety of Spanish, spoken anywhere in the world. The book can be in Spanish, English, or another language you and I can both read (check with me first). The book must be a single work, by one or more authors; it may not be an anthology of articles, conference papers, or reports by various authors. The book does not have to deal exclusively with language variation, but a description of a variety of Spanish or group of varieties must be a central theme. It is not appropriate to review dictionaries, lists of proverbs or sayings, or other list-type presentations. Typical examples of acceptable works include overall descriptions of a particular variety (El español de Oaxaca), ethnic contributions (El elemento afronegroide en el español de Puerto Rico), studies of folklore or oral traditions which include language usage, studies of literary language applied to a particular region (El habla popular en las novelas venezolanas), etc. You may not choose a language or grammar textbook. Before submitting the title for approval, look the book over carefully, to make sure you understand its content. If the book is over 200 pages long, bring it to me, and I will try to suggest certain sections that can be skipped over when preparing the review.
(2) Book reviews are to be no longer than 3 pages, typed, double-spaced. After heading the paper with your own name and the class name, begin with the complete bibliographical citation, in this standard format:
Last name, First Name. Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, date of publication. Edition (if not first edition). Pp. xx (introductory sections, with small Roman numerals) + XX (total number of pages with normal Arabic numerals). For example: Montes Giraldo, José Joaquín. Dialectología general e hispanoamericana. Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo, 1982. Pp. xiv + 162.
You may write the summaries either in Spanish or in English. It is best to use the language in which the article is written, to ensure use of proper terminology.
(3) This is a book review, not just a summary. This means that you must summarize the contents of the book, and give a brief critical commentary on both the style/organization and the content, within the bounds of knowledge obtained in this class. The review must answer the following questions:
(a) What is the overall classification of the book (descriptive dialectology, sociolinguistics, folklore, language pedagogy, etc.)?
(b) Who are the intended readers of the book? (specialists in a specific field, people with more general training in linguistics, educators, social activists, a linguistically untrained general reading public, etc.).
(c) Is the author's approach primarily descriptive, trying to prove a theoretical point, trying to argue a political or social conclusion, suggesting teaching techniques, etc.?
(d) If the author is arguing against another author's position, briefly mention this fact, without going into all the details of the previous argumentation.
(e) What are the author's principal conclusions?
(f) How does the author support the conclusions? (by new data, by demolishing alternative arguments, by presenting a model demonstration or case study, by simply claiming to be an authority, by pointing out defects or otherwise maligning the work of other writers, etc.).
(g) Is the book clearly written? Are assertions well-documented? Does the author make unsupported statements which reveal bias, preconceived notions, or ignorance?
(h) In overall terms, how effective is the book in providing information to the intended audience? Can you highlight particularly effective or compelling sections, or suggest areas for improvement?
(4) Do not turn in the book with your review. However, keep the book handy while I am grading the reviews, since I may ask to see the book in order to verify specific details.
You will not be graded down for infelicities of Spanish or English writing style, provided that I can decipher what you are trying to say. You will be graded down for failure to follow the above guidelines.


Correct bibliographical citation? (1 point) _____
Appropriate length? (1 point) _____
Classification? (2 points) _____
Intended audience? (1 point) _____
Approach? (2 points) _____
Conclusions? (3 points) _____
Justifications? (3 points) _____
Effectiveness? (2 points) _____
Overall assessment? (2 points) _____
Total (max. 17 points) _____
GRADE: _____
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