Celebrating Varieties of New Mexican Spanish
Friday, September 27, 2013
This year our annual Alumni Reunion is dedicated to the work of Dr. Garland Bills and Dr. Neddy Vigil, former Spanish Professors, whose pioneering research on New Mexican Spanish has inspired many scholars in the field of Hispanic Linguistics and Southwest Studies.
Professors Bills and Vigil have been pioneers of a growing trend in Hispanic Linguistics to build corpora of spoken Spanish, an endeavor particularly important for understudied varieties such as New Mexican Spanish. The building of the NMCOSS (New Mexico and Colorado Spanish Survey) corpus entailed the work of a team of about 18 collaborators, who, under the guidance and leadership of Professors Bills and Vigil, produced and compiled 357 interviews between 1991 and 1996. The NMCOSS corpus resulted in the publication of their linguistic atlas, The Spanish Language of New Mexico and Southern Colorado, as well as in a significant number of studies that have contributed not only to our understanding of Southwest Spanish but also to the implementation of Spanish heritage language programs in New Mexico and beyond. (For a list of publications based on this corpus, click here). Such a large body of data has been also a crucial tool for training students of Hispanic Linguistics on usage-based approaches to linguistic theory (See Poster Session). However, there still remains a wealth of material in this corpus that has yet to be explored. The UNM Hispanic Linguistics program aims to create research and publication opportunities for current and prospective graduate students around the NMCOSS.
This tribute to Professors Bills and Vigil, as well as the ongoing support for the NMCOSS corpus, demonstrates the commitment of the University of New Mexico's Department of Spanish & Portuguese to the preservation of New Mexican Spanish. This year's homecoming celebration includes six prominent scholars of Hispanic Linguistics, all graduates of the UNM PhD program. We hope that their presence will both honor Professors Bills and Vigil and inspire our current students.