Alumni Spotlight

May 4, 2018

Emeritus Professor, Daniel Villa illuminates our Alumni Spotlight this week.  Prof. Villa, expresses his journey through the variety of Spanish he has encountered in New Mexico and his two new projects he is working on.   

“I’m Professor Emeritus of Spanish Linguistics at New Mexico State University. I graduated from the Department of Modern and Classical Languages in 1992 with a PhD in Romance Languages (some things have changed over the years!) I taught for two years at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, my undergraduate alma mater, and then took a position teaching Spanish Linguistics at NMSU, where I will finish my career. The use of the future tense in the last sentence is intentional; “Emeritus” does not mean I’m retired, but rather that I’ve been given a long term course reduction. That reduction lets me focus on my research, writing and professional service (I’m presently the Executive Director of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest). I’ve currently got two projects on the front burner: an edited journal collection and a book under contract tentatively titled “U.S. Mexican Spanish West of the Mississippi: A National Language”. The latter represents a synthesis of the research I’ve carried out on U.S. Spanish over the years, including analyses of Census data. I’ve been inspired by Garland Bills, who pioneered the use of that data for better understanding certain dynamics of our language.

I have fond memories of my years in Burque as a graduate student. I’m a native New Mexican, born on the Llano Estacado, but I had never paid attention to the kind of Spanish my dad’s family speaks. It was just Spanish. It was during my graduate studies that I became aware that it is a very special kind of Spanish. During my studies we were also rehabilitating an old adobe house north of Española for my folks, and so I came into close contact with Northern New Mexican Spanish and all of its rich variation. In those years Garland Bills and Neddy Vigil were in the process of designing the project that would result in their singular linguistic atlas of New Mexican and Southern Colorado Spanish, and I had the privilege of observing and participating in the ground floor work they were doing. I was immersed in the study of New Mexican Spanish, and I came back to and now reside in my laboratory. Those years at UNM were the start of career that will end cuando ya cuelga los tenis.”

Congratulations on your achievements!