The social value of Spanish among transnational Latin American families in Italy


  • Milin Bonomi Università degli Studi di Milano



language ideologies, family language policies, Spanish, Latin American diaspora, Italy


The aim of this paper is to explore the value of Spanish through the study of the ideologies and subjectivities represented in the discursive practices of some transnational Latin American families that underwent processes of diaspora to Italy. In particular, the goal is to focus on their family language policies by exploring the relationship between linguistic uses, identities, and ideologies. In the current context of neoliberalism, many scholars have highlighted how language has become a commodity (Holborow, 2007; Block, Gray, and Holborow, 2012; Heller and Duchêne, 2012) or, in terms of Bourdieu (1991), a symbolic capital, i.e., a system of values that social actors associate with a particular linguistic use in a specific economic and political context, determined by certain power relations. In global contemporary diasporas, in line with the colonial era (Mignolo, 1992; Heller and McElhinny, 2017), the perceptual and evaluation schemes of linguistic practices continue to be strongly determined by the centre-periphery relationship. This same language regime is reflected in the social value of Spanish that emerges in the discursive practices of Hispanic families in Italy. The data, in effect, demonstrate a clear perceptual inequality between the Spanish of the diaspora, marginalised by its condition of minority language and delegitimised for representing a deviation from the monoglossic norm (Silverstein, 1996), and the central languages (‘standard’ varieties of Spanish and Italian), understood as convertible resources in the global linguistic market and more
desirable in terms of social mobility.

Author Biography

Milin Bonomi, Università degli Studi di Milano

Milin Bonomi is Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics and Translation at the University of Milan (Italy). Her research focuses on the interplay of language and migration from different perspectives, paying particular attention to discursive and identity practices of transnational Hispanic population in Italy and the role of Spanish as a minority and heritage language in educational settings. She has authored different contributions on these topics in national and international contexts. Her theoretical and methodological approach is transdisciplinary and encompasses sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology while also engaging the fields of cultural and social studies, education, and language policy.


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How to Cite

Bonomi, M. (2022). The social value of Spanish among transnational Latin American families in Italy. Sociolinguistic Studies, 16(2-3), 301–325.