Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies
IUPLR 2015

Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR)

IUPLR is a national consortium of university-based centers dedicated to the advancement of the Latino intellectual presence in the United States. IUPLR works to expand the pool of Latino scholars and leaders and increase the availability of policy-relevant Latino-focused research. IUPLR works to strengthen the network of centers and to enhance their institutional capacity.

IUPLR has created a national organization on higher education and has worked to devise institutional vehicles that help inform the nation about the Latino experience including supporting the development and continuity of Latino USA (a national NPR program), the Smithsonian Latino Center, and the PEW Hispanic Center.

Of course, we believe that this is not enough, that there is still a need to deepen our understanding of the diversity among Latinos, the varied needs of its many communities and their dynamic hemispheric connections. So, IUPLR will continue to do this by facilitating interdisciplinary, multi-institutional and multinational research working groups because IUPLR is also committed to sharing this knowledge with advocates and policy makers through our centers and nationally through Washington DC offices.

Linguistics and Latina/o Speech Communities Working Group's Mission

Founded in this spirit, IUPLR has helped to the creating of the Linguistics and Latina/o Speech Communities Working Group. This group examines the cognitive and linguistic implications of US Latina/o speech communities. Our research is based in experimental psychology and sociolinguistic laboratory instruments and technologies in order to collect, assess, and evaluate cognitive and linguistic data. We establish connections between quantitative results and qualitative explanations to discover and pinpoint linguistic trends and behavioral patterns characteristic and representative of US Latina/o communities, and how these correlate to the way they speak to one another.

The group explores the different cognitive and linguistic aspects that shape identity, identify and illustrate historical developments relevant to the presence of Latina/o populations in the US, discuss the diversity of US Latina/o communities and its linguistics implications, and explain and analyze important language policy challenges posed by the presence of other language-speaking communities in the US (mainly those involving Hispanic, Latina/o, and Indigenous populations).

Primarily focusing on bilingualism, a complex phenomenon that refers to the capacity to speak and communicate indistinctly in two or more different languages, the group analyzes the nature of our contemporary society, since this phenomenon is a lived reality for a number of individuals in several communities within the US. This is to say, the fact that several communities in the Américas conserve a native language besides the official one extends between the members of these communities the knowledge and use of different ways to communicate.

Even though we recognize the importance of bilingual education, our research scope goes further. Our group combines the analytical methodologies that mold the fields its members represent to explore, examine, and analyze the ontological, epistemological, cognitive, and cultural implications of language usage in a daily base, language shift and maintenance, linguistic and semantic meaning and change, bilingual status and implementation, and morpho-syntactic and logical trends of US Latina/o speech communities. To summarize, the group is trying to figure out how certain social, political, cultural, and societal aspects constrain certain patterns of speech, and its long-term cognitive effects and implications on Latina/o individuals and populations.

Group members

And since there is no group without parts, let me introduce one by one the compounding members of the group.

María Irene Moyna, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Hispanic Studies, Texas A&M University

BIO: Professor Moyna’s research explores variation and change in Spanish, particularly in word formation, personal address systems, and the history of Spanish in the United States. Her main research interest lies in the relationship between society, cognition, and acquisition as factors behind language change. Professor Moyna teaches courses on topics such as phonology, morphology, dialectology, Spanish in the United States, bilingualism, and linguistic methods, as well as advanced grammar and Spanish for the professions.

Irene Checa-García, Assistant Professor, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, University of Wyoming

BIO: Professor Checa-García specializes in Hispanic Linguistics, particularly in Grammar and Discourse, Corpus Linguistics, and Conversation Analysis of Very Young Children. Her dissertation focused on measures of later syntactic development and social factors influencing it. During her postdoc years, Prof. Checa researched resumptive pronouns in the relative clauses of adult speech and adolescent writing. Her current projects focus on relative clauses processing using grammaticality judgments and comprehension tasks in experimental studies involving relative clauses with and without resumptive pronouns. At present, she is continuing her research on assessment measures with Prof. Guiberson in the Communication Disorders Department, researching test validity for Spanish-English bilinguals with Specific Language Impairment. She is also collaborating with Prof. Gómez-Rubio from University of Castilla-La Mancha on Anglicisms in Tweets and their spatial distribution. Finally, she is researching directives production by very young bilingual children using the Santa Barbara Corpus of Very Young Children Interactions. 

Kim Díaz, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and Chicano Studies Research Program, The University of Texas at El Paso

BIO: Professor Díaz’s research focuses on Latin American Philosophy, Classical American Pragmatism and Social and Political Philosophy. Her work has been published in Philosophy in The Contemporary World, Societies Without Borders, The American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy, and Pragmatism in The Americas.  She is a member of the Society for Mexican-American Philosophy, and is currently visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso. She also serves as Chief Assistant Editor to the Inter-American Journal of Philosophy. Currently, Díaz is co-editing a book on American Philosophy. Although most philosophers understand "American Philosophy" to mean Classical American Pragmatism. Díaz’s project aims to incorporate the Classical American Pragmatist tradition as well as African-American, Indigenous, and Latin American philosophical traditions throughout the Americas in order to give a fair representation of the different philosophical strands that constitute the American Philosophy fabric. Furthermore, Díaz is currently collaborating on a translation project of 20th Century Mexican Philosophy from Spanish to English. Díaz is a member of the American Philosophical Association Hispanic section, where she comments on contemporary issues in US Latina/o communities, including language.

Belem G. López holds a postdoctoral position, the Center for Mexican American Studies, the University of Texas at Austin

BIO: Belem López conducts psycholinguistic research on Spanish-English bilinguals in order to understand the long-term cognitive and linguistic effects of prior language brokering experience (i.e., informal translation practice). She has co-authored a chapter on this topic, and has mentored several undergraduate students. Dr. López was a member of the TAMU Language and Cognition laboratory and is the inaugural member and direct of the Mexican American and Latina/o Studies Psycho and Sociolinguistics Research lab. (or LLAMA lab).

Barbara Rodríguez, Full Professor and Chair, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and member of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, University of New Mexico

BIO: Professor Rodriguez’s research and teaching interests are in bilingual language acquisition. Her recent research has focused on language and literacy development in bilingual (English-Spanish) individuals, cultural and environmental influences on the language development of children from diverse backgrounds, and speech-language assessment and screening of bilingual children. Professor Rodríguez is a collaborator on the Bilingual Phonology Assessment (BiPA) project, a study that developed a phonological assessment tool for bilingual (English-Spanish) children from Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban backgrounds. Professor Rodríguez teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses including Reading and Writing in Research (SHS 506), Preclinical Training (SHS 458), Multicultural Considerations in Communication (SHS 459), and Bilingual Language Acquisition: Clinical Implications (SHS 539). Professor Rodríguez was awarded the 2010 ASHA Certificate for Special Contributions in Multicultural Affairs and the 2010 NMSHA Fellowship.

Juan J. Colomina-Almiñana, Assistant Professor of Sociolinguistics, at the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, and a Center for Mexican American Studies affiliate. He is the group coordinator.