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Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society. Sociolinguistics is the best single label to represent a very wide range of contemporary research at the intersection of linguistics, sociology and social theory, social psychology and human communication studies. Sociolinguistics is probably the most active but also the most diverse area of contemporary language studies. When the focus of study is our own speaking community, sociolinguistic inquiry has the power to deeply impact one’s own understanding of cultural identity and one’s own responsibility to social change. In turn digital innovation and techniques have the catalytic potential to reimagine and reconfigure Sociolinguistics from a scholarly discipline into a publicly engaged and socially active practice that blends the traditional boundaries between theoretical thought, classroom teaching, field practice, and the opportunity to turning academic research into useful tools for the community. While for this proof of concept we have focused mostly on developing the project’s graphical interface, our IPV materials can be prepared and presented so as to allow a variety of other research approaches to the study of US Spanish in general and the US Spanish language of violence in particular. Here we offer a sample of the repository’s multiple interpretive and teaching possibilities.

Our materials constitute a qualified linguistic corpus. The corpus, in turn, permits the exploration of different textual analysis techniques and experimentation with web-based text analysis through a range of reading and visualization environments. Our team is interested in using the corpus to study Variationist Linguistics while expanding the glossary of words related to IPV. But we invite others to explore the corpus as well. We have processed a selection of texts from California, Florida, Illinois and NYC (download the complete zip file of texts) that can be ingested into textual environment engines such as Voyant and Wordsmith. We recommend that users develop a list of stop words that makes sense to their particular needs, though researchers are welcome to explore our set of stop words.

Voyant shows the relative frequency of the terms abusador and agresor in the corpus. Click to enlarge.

Voyant shows the relative frequency of the terms abusador and agresor in the corpus. Click to enlarge.

We have also developed an online linguistic form that was used to provide basic linguistic information for nearly 30 texts. The linguistic features we chose to study suggest a great deal about how the complex interaction of multi leveled/multi registered discourse in Spanish opens up to the nuanced political discourse of bilingualism in the USA. Albeit by no means comprehensive, and for this proof of concept far from rigorous, the linguistic analysis gave us a sense of the direction we need to take in the future to provide a live crowdsourcing environment where users can upload their own texts and conduct their own linguistic analyses.