Discipline and disorder in the whiteness of Mock Spanish

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25 Scopus citations


Following Hill's investigation of the "permeability of language" that includes the heteroglossic mixing of Spanish phrases into English, I examine here the "permeability of race," focusing on racial shifts in and out of whiteness. I begin by arguing that the construction of racial difference hinges on the perception of one's ability to display a disciplined body, and I illustrate how language becomes a critical site for the racial disciplining of bodies. Next, I show how nonwhites can be "racially improved" and assimilate into whiteness through performances of standard English and control over their Spanish. Conversely, I demonstrate how white people who engage in intentional or unavoidable contact with latinos and Spanish speaking risk a loss of whiteness. Finally, I make the claim that white English speakers who embrace Mock Spanish actually "lose whiteness" as they "flirt" with the disorder of nonwhiteness. Here the temporary loss of whiteness that accompanies the display of a lack of linguistic refinement and control is readily exchanged for the positive associations of jovial and relaxed amiability. I thus argue that Mock Spanish helps us better understand the role of language in the moment-by-moment racial shifts speakers make in and out of whiteness.[Mock Spanish, race, whiteness, discipline, the body].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-229
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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