Lozano Discusses ‘An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States’

Written by
Denise Valenti, Office of Communications
Nov. 8, 2018

Rosina Lozano, associate professor of history, researches Latino history with a focus on Mexican American history, the American West, migration and immigration, and comparative studies in race and ethnicity. 

Her latest book, An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States, published this year by the University of California Press, is a political history of the Spanish language in the United States from the incorporation in 1848 of the Mexican Cession — the region that Mexico ceded after its war with the United States — through World War II. It also discusses more recent developments.

In An American Language, Lozano argues that the United States always has been a multilingual nation, and that Spanish-language rights, in particular, have remained an important political issue to the present.

Lozano answered questions about Spanish’s little-recognized role in the development of U.S. history.

You describe Spanish as a colonial, immigrant and indigenous language in the United States. Can you explain that?

Social linguists have defined the Spanish language in this way. It is a colonial language because the Spanish colonized much of what became the United States. It is also an indigenous language in many parts of the current United States due to its over 400-year history of being used by Spanish settlers and Native peoples. The oldest capitol city in the United States is Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was founded in 1610. Since then, Spanish has — over time — become viewed by many in the United States almost exclusively as an immigrant language due to the millions of immigrants who have come in recent decades from Latin America.

She also recently spoke with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto about her research. Watch the video clip (Spanish).


Rosina Lozano speaking with Jorge Ramos on Al Punto