To examine the social evaluations of place-name variation, a matched-guise study was created using audio clips of four bilingual and four monolingual Austinites performing a map task. The audio clips were digitally manipulated to vary only in place-name pronunciation, using English or Spanish phonology for Spanish place-names and established local or newcomer nonlocal for English place-names. Based on the responses of 126 residents of Austin, mixed-effects linear regression models and qualitative comments found that listeners uniformly perceived English place-name variation only in terms of localness, while Spanish variation indexed several social meanings that varied by listener and speaker demographics, particularly listener ethnicity (i.e., non-Hispanic listeners evaluated Spanish phonology as nonlocal while Hispanic listeners considered both English and Spanish phonology local). The author contends that (1) not all listeners perceive the same indexical fields but rather partially overlapping fields; (2) differing perceptions of Spanish place-names reveal underlying monoglossic ideologies in the United States; and (3) place-name variation is a rich site of indexical information for the construction of place identity, particularly in bilingual regions.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.