Mexican-American linguistics conference comes to UT

Jenan Taha and Claire Allbright

UT-Austin’s Center for Mexican American Studies will host the 45th annual Linguistic Association of the Southwest conference, a three-day event from September 15–17, which highlights Mexican-American culture and language.  

LASSO focuses on researching and understanding the characteristics of language in the southwestern U.S. region, especially among the Mexican-American community. This will be the University’s first time to host the event in 25 years, after hosting the convention in 1981 and 1991.

John Morán González, director of the CMAS, said several of the speakers at LASSO conference study the effects of indigenous languages in the area and how they affect Mexican-American identity and culture.

“The conference will help us understand the different ways that this region’s populations … employ language to claim distinct yet related communal identities,” González said.

The conference theme, “Living Language in the Southwest,” allows for keynote speeches and panels on endangered languages, said Juan Colomina-Almiñana, assistant professor of Mexican American and Latino studies.

“[It is] important … to focus our attention on the ways that the different Mexican-American speech communities perform their identities and express their attitudes and ideologies through language, and how we as linguists can scientifically and formally approach these issues employing quantitative as well as qualitative methodologies,” Colomina-Almiñana said.

Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, department chair of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, said Mexican-American language communities in Texas deserve the attention LASSO helps provide.

“A conference like LASSO provides researchers a forum to discuss Mexican-American language communities, a topic vital to Mexican American Studies, in conjunction with Indigenous language revitalization and endangered languages, also areas of interest in MAS,” Guidotti-Hernández wrote in an email.

Speakers at the event include professors and researchers from around the world presenting abstracts for papers on topics including Navajo poetry, sexism in the Spanish language and the science of bilingualism, González said.

“I hope that everyone attending the conference can learn more about the cutting-edge research in Mexican American studies that CMAS sponsors for the intellectual benefit of the campus and Austin communities,” González said.