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Hispanic Linguistics

The University of Florida’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies offers the most comprehensive M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Hispanic Linguistics available in the southeastern United States.

A picture of Tulum
Tulum (Eneas, Flickr)
Select the links below to find out more about our programs.

What is Linguistics?

Linguistics is the study of language—its sounds (phonetics and phonology), structure (morphology and syntax), words (lexicon) and their meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Beyond these basic levels of analysis, however, linguistics encompasses much broader issues addressed by various research areas.

Historical Linguistics is concerned with the ways in which language systems vary and change over the years. It responds to such questions as: What are the principal grammatical differences between Latin and Contemporary Spanish? What does the Spanish language have in common with other Romance languages such as French and Portuguese? How did the Basque language influence the pronunciation of Old Spanish? Which words of the contemporary Spanish lexicon were inherited from the Arabic languages spoken in the Iberian Peninsula from 711-1492

Sociolinguistics analyzes the relationship between society, language use and linguistic structures. It focuses centrally on the ways in which language varies and describes how this variation characterizes geographic space (rural vs. urban, coast vs. highlands), social class, ethnicity, gender, generation (younger vs. older), and speech style (casual vs. formal). Some popular subdisciplines within sociolinguistics are discourse analysis (the study of how speakers use language in social interaction), language contact (the study of contexts where two or more languages are normally used and the ways bilingual speakers use them), language and gender (analysis of the differences between ‘male’ and ‘female’ ways of communicating), and language attitudes (observation of speakers’ ideas about what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ language).

Applied Linguistics includes studies of first and second language acquisition (how people learn to express themselves through language—both spoken and written—and use it in context), language pedagogy (the design and analysis of methods used to teach people languages, both native and non-native), the editing of dictionaries and formal grammars, translation and interpretation, and language policy and planning (the implementation and analysis of laws and policies around societal language use and language education).

Psycholinguistics addresses the basic relationships between psychology, language and cognition.

Neurolinguistics explores the physiological aspects of the brain in connection with human language capacity.

Computational linguistics applies theories of linguistics to the design of artificial (computer) language and computerized language technologies.

Who studies Hispanic Linguistics?

Most students who enter graduate degree programs in Hispanic Linguistics have completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Spanish language or in general linguistics. We see students from all fields, however, and can offer background and supplemental courses in particular cases where a student may lack certain basic information or knowledge.

Hispanic Linguistics is a growing field in the United States. Given the increasing demand for Spanish in education and in the public domain, and the limited number of Hispanic Linguistics programs, graduates of our program find themselves in an advantageous situation on the job market. Most go on to jobs in academics, either as school teachers, administrators, or college/university professors. Others accept positions in the publishing industry or in government or public service. Translation and interpretation are also fields that offer a substantial number of professional positions relative to Spanish language in the United States.

Who Are Our Faculty?

Eight full-time faculty members in the Department are engaged in teaching and research in Hispanic Linguistics.

  • Jessi Aaron, Ph.D.
  • Su Ar Lee, Ph.D.
  • Gillian Lord, Ph.D.
  • Crystal Marull, Ph.D.
  • Diego Pascual y Cabo, Ph.D.
  • David Pharies, Ph.D.
  • Jorge Valdés Kroff, Ph.D.
  • Jennifer Wooten, Ph.D.


Students take graduate courses in our Department — Spanish & Portuguese Studies — as well as in the Department of Linguistics. Regular Hispanic Linguistics course offerings in our Department include the following. In addition, we continually reassess and modify our curriculum.

SPN 6705 Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics

This course offers an overview of the main areas of Hispanic linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, history of the language, dialectology, sociolinguistics, and second language acquisition. Issues of research methodology for the different areas are also discussed.

SPN 6715 Formal Instruction and the Acquisition of Spanish

This course examines the effects of formal instruction on the acquisition of Spanish as a second or foreign language through presentation of general theoretical issues and the analysis of various aspects of teaching and learning Spanish grammar.

SPN 6735 Special Study in Spanish Linguistics

This seminar offers varying topics of Spanish linguistics relevant to second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, and historical linguistics. Recent topics have included: Technology in Foreign Language Education; Spanish Language in Society; Research Methods in Second Language Acquisition, Input and Interaction in Second Language Acquisition, among others.

SPN 6785 Spanish Phonetics and Phonology

This advanced phonetics course has many purposes. Primarily, it serves as an introduction to and analysis of the sound system of Spanish from both an articulatory and an acoustic perspective. Throughout the semester, we will discuss the difference between phonetics and phonology, different models for studying Spanish phonology (rule-based, Optimality Theoretic, etc.), and the representation of the sound patterns of a language (phonetic transcription). We also study some of the most important processes that affect sounds in Spanish. In addition, the course discusses dialectal variation between varieties of Spanish insofar as the phonetic and phonological inventories are affected.

SPN 6827 Sociolinguistics of the Spanish-Speaking World

This course provides a general overview of issues in sociolinguistics in the contemporary Spanish-speaking world. General topics include language variation and change, language contact, language attitudes, policy and planning, discourse analysis, and social factors in Spanish language acquisition.

SPN 6835 Spanish and Spanish-American Dialectology

This course describes the principles and methods applied to the study of regional varieties of Spanish in Spain and Spanish America.

SPN 6845 History of the Spanish Language

This course addresses the phonological, morphological, syntactic, and lexical evolution of the Spanish language from its Latin origins.

SPN 6848 Medieval Spanish Linguistics

This course is an in-depth examination of medieval Spanish. Students will be familiarized with all spects of language, primarily through analysis of non-literary texts of the medieval period.

SPN 6855 Structure of Spanish

This course explores morphological, syntactic and semantic aspects of the Spanish language.

SPN 6856 Spanish in Contact: Issues in Bilingualism

This course provides analysis of structural, sociocultural, and political aspects of the Spanish language in contact with other major languages: Quechua, Guaraní, Portuguese, English, Basque, Catalan, and African languages.

Other Resources

In addition to those full-time faculty members working in Hispanic Linguistics, students may take advantage of important faculty resources in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and in general linguistics in the University of Florida’s Department of Linguistics.