Language Power and Prestige on the U.S.-Mexican Border

When and Where

Friday, December 02, 2022 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Victoria College 115
Victoria College
91 Charles St. West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Natalia Mazzaro


Join us for the next event in our Lecture Series as Natalia Mazzaro presents her research (in collaboration with Raquel González de Anda) on the complex relationship between language use and prestige.

About the Presentation:
Linguistic Landscape (LL) studies show the linguistic configuration of an area through the study of the language on public signage. They can also provide important insights and a different perspective on our knowledge about language. In this talk, I will present a Linguistic Landscape (LL) study of El Paso, Texas, to understand the complex relationship between language use, power, and identity in this bilingual borderplex region. First, I explain what the LL is and why it is important to study it. Second, I present the methodology used to collect our data, how the city was divided into 5 different areas and the coding of signs according to languages used, location, sign type, and business type. Third, I present our results of 1400 pictures and discuss the factors that influence the language choice of a sign on the U.S.-Mexico border. Finally, I discuss how the language of signs can reveal issues of language prestige, identity, ethnicity, and linguistic vitality.

About the Presenter:
Natalia Mazzaro is an Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Texas El Paso. Her research explores the linguistic and social factors that govern language variation, the social meaning attached to different language variants, and the role of linguistic variation in identity construction. A second line of research investigates cross-linguistic effects in bilinguals’ perception and production of speech sounds. She also studies the linguistic landscape of multilingual/bilingual areas to understand the complex relationship between language use and prestige of coexisting speech communities inhabiting the territory.


Please note: This event will be presented in a hybrid mode.
To join us remotely, please register in advance for the Zoom session here:



Department of Spanish & Portuguese


91 Charles St. West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7