New Mexican Spanish
is a variant or dialect of Spanish spoken in the United States
, primarily in the northern part of the state of New Mexico
and the southern part of the state of Colorado
. Despite a continual influence from the Spanish spoken in Mexico
to the south, New Mexico's relative geographical isolation and unique political history has made New Mexican Spanish differ notably from Spanish spoken in other parts of Latin America
, even from that of northern Mexico or Texas
Speakers of New Mexican Spanish are mainly descendants of Spanish colonists who arrived in New Mexico in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During this time, contact with the rest of Spanish America was limited, and New Mexican Spanish was allowed to develop on its own course. In the meantime, Spanish colonists coexisted with Puebloan peoples and Navajos. Finally, after the Mexican-American War, New Mexico and all its inhabitants came under the governance of the English-speaking United States, and for the next hundred years, English-speakers increased in number.
For these reasons, the main differences between New Mexican Spanish and other forms of Latin American Spanish are these: the preservation of forms and vocabulary from colonial-era Spanish (e.g. haiga instead of haya, or Yo seigo instead of Yo soy); the borrowing of words from Rio Grande Indian languages for indigenous vocabulary (in addition to the Nahuatl additions that the colonists had brought); a tendency to "re-coin" Spanish words that had fallen into disuse (For example, ojo, whose literal meaning is "eye," was repurposed to mean "hot spring" as well.); and a large proportion of English loan words, particularly for technological words (e.g. bós, troqua, and telefón.) Pronunciation also carries influences from colonial, Native American, and English sources.
The development of a culture of print media in the late nineteenth century allowed New Mexican Spanish to resist assimilation toward either American English or Mexican Spanish for many decades. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
, for instance, noted that "About one-tenth of the Spanish-American and Indian population [of New Mexico] habitually use the English language." Until the 1930s or 1940s, many speakers never came to learn English, and even after that time, most of their descendants were bilingual with English until the 1960s or 1970s. The advance of English-language broadcast media accelerated this decline.
Phonetic variations of New Mexican Spanish (these can be manifest in small or large groups of speakers, but very rarely manifest in all speakers):
|| St. Spanish
|| N.M. Spanish |
| Phrase-final epenthetical |
[e] or [i]
| voy a cantar
| dame el papel
| Uvularization of /x/
| Conditional elision of intervocalic /j/
| Realization of /ɾ/ and/or /r/ |
as an alveolar approximant [ɹ]
| Softening of /ʧ/ to [ʃ]
| Insertion of nasal consonant /|
nasalisation of vowel preceding
| Elision of word-final intervocalic|
consonants, esp. in -ado
|Aspiration or elision (rare) of /f/
|| me fui
| Completely devoiced /s/
|| estas mismas casas
| Velarization of pre-velar-consonant |
voiced bilabial approximant
| Syllable-initial, syllable-final, or |
total aspiration or elision of /s/
| somos así
Besides a great deal of phonological variation, there exists various morphological differences throughout New Mexican Spanish, usually in verb conjugations or endings:
- Change from bilabial nasal /m/ to alveolar nasal /n/ in the first person plural (nosotros) ending of imperfect tense: nos bañábamos is realized as
- Regularization of the following irregular verb conjugations:
- Radical stem changes: quiero becomes quero
- Irregular present indicative 1st person singular: salgo becomes salo, vengo becomes veno
- Irregular subjunctive: subjunctive present of haber becomes haiga (esp. est. haya)
- haber as an auxiliary verb: "nosotros hamos comido" instead of "nosotros hemos comido", "yo ha comido" instead of "yo he comido"
New Mexican Spanish has been in contact with several indigenous American languages. For an example of loanword phonological borrowing in Taos, see Taos loanword phonology.
- Rubén Cobos. A Dictionary of New Mexico & Southern Colorado Spanish. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003.
- Garland D. Bills. "New Mexican Spanish: Demise of the Earliest European Variety in the United States". American Speech (1997, 72.2): 154-171.
- Rosaura Sánchez. "Our linguistic and social context", Spanish in the United States: Sociolinguistic Aspects. Ed. Jon Amastae & Lucía Elías-Olivares. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. 9-46.
- Carmen Silva-Corvalán. "Lengua, variación y dialectos". Sociolingüística y Pragmática del Español 2001: 26-63.
- L. Ronald Ross. "La supresión de la /y/ en el español chicano". Hispania (1980): 552-554.