Societal predictors of Spanish language use among Hispanics at home
Solano, Frank Rene
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Almost every minority-language group in the United States loses the bulk of its mother tongue claimants by the second generation. Hispanics observe a pattern that is different from that trend. They continue using Spanish in their homes and are actively transferring their ancestral language from one to another generation.;The goal of this study is to identify all societal variables which best predict inter-state differentials in Spanish language use-claiming in Hispanic homes on the basis of the 1980 U.S. Census reports. The Hispanic population in that census is studied here, but the figures examined are those which represent the population of Hispanics per state. Therefore, fifty-one states (including D.C.) are the sample of the study.;Two-hundred-and-sixty-six variables are selected. The dependent variable is the proportion of Hispanics per state who in the 1980 U.S. Census reported using Spanish at home. Via cumulative multiple regressions this study determines the total proportion of the variance in the dependent variable that is accounted for by the most powerful combinations of 265 independent variables and what their individual as well as combined contributions to such prediction is.;The results of the study produce two optimal subsets of predictors. One of nine predictors yields an r of.9343 accounting for 84% of the inter-state variance in the criterion variable. Another of eight predictors yields an r of.8636 accounting for 75% of the variance in the dependent variable.;Furthermore, the evidence suggests that speaking Spanish at home is primarily a by-product of poverty-related variables; the proportion of Hispanics in the general state population; the proportion of Hispanics who have lived abroad or have college education; the proportion of Hispanic school enrollment in elementary grades, and various characteristics of Hispanic households and their family structure. In sum, a highly predictive set of societal variables is identified in the present study and it is only now that their relative as well as cumulative contribution to Spanish language use at home can be more fully appreciated.