Bilingual Voices Project Awarded NEH Grant

May 15th, 2023

An ongoing collaborative project between the University of Arizona and researchers in California and Texas has received a new round of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


The project, “Bilingual Voices in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: Preserving, Expanding & Elaborating Sociolinguistic Collections,” will receive $349,931.


The funding will support preservation, expansion and elaboration of two collections of bilingual sociolinguistic interviews, which document language varieties along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Corpus del Español en el Sur de Arizona (CESA) and the Corpus Bilingüe del Valle (CoBiVa).


Katherine Christoffersen of the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley is the project director. Ana Carvalho, Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Ryan Bessett of the University of California at San Diego are co-directors. Christoffersen and Bessett are former UA graduate students who worked with Carvalho on developing sociolinguistic corpora while at the UA.


The research uses interviews to analyze language contact-induced changes in bilingual varieties of Spanish along the U.S. Southwest, and to explore to what extent these varieties present sociolinguistic continuities with the dialects found south of the border. Carvalho began the CESA project in 2012 as a way to document, analyze, and disseminate Spanish varieties spoken in Arizona. The corpus now hosts 78 sociolinguistic interviews and provides data to researchers around the globe.


The project previously received an NEH grant in 2020 to test technologically aided transcription methods and to develop a plan for preservation of the interviews. In this upcoming phase of the project, the team will work with graduate students, IT staff and librarians at UTRGV and UA to archive and preserve the collections through the library systems and to expand the two corpora websites, CESA and CoBiVa. The ultimate goal of Bilingual Voices is to expand the research potential of data while documenting U.S. Spanish and celebrating linguistic diversity.