Ethnolinguistic identity and Spanish proficiency in a paradoxical situation: The case of Puerto Rican return migrants

Arlene Clachar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


The article addresses the social psychological paradox of learning a language, which in one interethnic situation represents the ingroup language, while in another interethnic context, it represents the outgroup language. This situation characterises the language-learning experience of most Puerto Rican return migrants (PRRMs) who have found themselves as subordinate members in two different interethnic environments. The study examines the language-learning behaviour of members of this ethnic group by investigating the influence of ethnolinguistic identity on their development of Spanish proficiency in this paradoxical situation. Such an investigation identifies three variables which may mediate PRRMs' learning of Spanish in Puerto Rico: (a) ethnolinguistic vitality, (b) perceived hardness of linguistic boundaries, (c) awareness of cognitive alternatives to the status quo. The study reveals problematic relationships between (a) ethnic identity, (b) multiple-group membership and Spanish proficiency phenomena which may be peculiar to PRRMs (and other ethnic minority groups who have also found themselves in similar intergroup situations).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-124
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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