Resistance to the English Language in Puerto Rico: Toward a Theory of Language and Intergroup Distinctiveness

Arlene Clachar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Despite the fact that Puerto Rico has been under the sovereignty of the U.S. for almost a century, only 20% of the island's population is functionally bilingual amidst an educational system which requires compulsory study of the English language from grades 1 through 12. Much of the explanation for the conflict and resistance to the learning and spread of English on the island focuses on nationalism, uncertainty over Puerto Rico's political future, and association between language and identity. This study argues that the English language situation in Puerto Rico is one of language maintenance and, therefore, an intergroup phenomenon since Spanish is in conflict with another group's language. To this end, it is believed that an empirical analysis of the role of intergroup distinctiveness can provide valuable insights into the variables involved in the maintenance of Spanish and the concomitant unsuccessful bilingualization of Puerto Ricans on the island. Results indicate that Puerto Ricans do exhibit three tendencies of intergroup distinctiveness: a) ingroup ethnic identification is strong and the ingroup language, Spanish, is a salient dimension of their ethnic group membership; b) perceived ingroup ethnolinguistic vitality is high; and c) perceived intergroup linguistic boundaries appear to be hard. Sociolinguistic and axiological implications based on the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-98
Number of pages30
JournalLinguistics and Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Resistance to the English Language in Puerto Rico: Toward a Theory of Language and Intergroup Distinctiveness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this