Hispanic Linguistics Track

A minimum of 60 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required for the Doctor of Philosophy of which a maximum of 30 can be transferred from another institution. For the courses and seminars to count towards the Ph.D. students must obtain a grade of B or higher.

Required Courses

All students in the Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures program must take the following courses: 

  • Hispanic Critical and Cultural Theory
  • Spanish as a Historical Problem

All students must follow a course of study approved by the Executive Officer.

First Examination

One out of the four sections of the First Examination must be written in English.

  1. To provide students with solid preparation in two areas of sociolinguistics and working familiarity with the main themes that run across the humanities and social sciences
  2. To support their professional development as Spanish teachers and language educators
  3. To consolidate students' knowledge of the grammatical structure of Spanish

With these goals in mind, the First Examination consist of three components:

  1. The sociolinguistics and politics of Spanish
  2. Language pedagogy
  3. The structure of Spanish

COMPONENT 1: The Sociolinguistics and Politics of Spanish

The first component of the exam will be organized around

  • two research paradigms and
  • two sets of topics

Research Paradigms

  1. Social dialectology, variationism, and linguistic attitudes
  2. Glottopolitical studies, linguistic ideologies, and the political economy of language
  3. Linguistic ethnography
  4. Interaction, discourse, and textual analysis
  5. Linguistic history and the archive

Typically at the beginning of their second semester in the program, students will meet with the Hispanic sociolinguistics track coordinator and choose two research paradigms. In close consultation with the coordinator and a three-member faculty examination committee, students will then develop a list of ten article-length texts for each of the research paradigms. The examination committee will mentor students as they select these texts and guide their reading to connect the chosen research paradigms’ relevance to the study of the items in the following topics lists.


Set 1. Topics that articulate research across the humanities and social sciences:
Nationalism; colonialism and neocolonialism; imperialism; globalization; captialism and neoliberalism; class; identity, ethniticy and race; indigeneity; mestizaje; hybridization; migration and diaspora; border; gender and sexuality; social movements; memory and history; literacy and writing.
Set 2. Sociolinguistic topics and their relevance in Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula and the US:
Vatiation in Spanish; interaction and politeness in Spanish; dialects and attitudes; Spanish in contact with other languages; the defense of minoritized languages in conflict with Spanish; the officialization of bilingualishm and multilingualishm; language policy and regional integration (EU, Mercosur); Spanish as a minoritized language in the US; the standardization of Spanish and the normative question; the intralinguistic, social and political history of Spanish; teaching Spanish as a FL; teaching Spanish to heritage speakers.
The exam for this component will be take-home. The examination committee will prepare four questions for each student, two from each of the chosen research paradigms, that will be handed to them on the day when the first examination is scheduled by the program. Students will select one question from each paradigm, write responses (each of approximately 2000 words) and turn them in seventy two hours later.

COMPONENT 2: Language pedagogy

Under the supervision of and with advise from the examination committee, typically in the course of their first and/or second semester in the program, students will design two syllabi for undergraduate courses that will be submitted to the examination committee on the day when the first examination is scheduled by the program.

  • One for a sociolinguistics course

And one from the following two categories:

  • An elementary/intermediate or advanced course for speakers of languages other than Spanish
  • A course for heritage speakers

Each syllabus must contain:

  • an introductory description to the course including learning goals and a rationale for the course’s structure and contents
  • a detailed identification of contents, assignments and homework for each lesson distributed in 14 weeks
  • an evaluation system linked to the course’s learning goals
  • a statement of the teaching methodology to be used

COMPONENT 3: The structure of Spanish

This will be a teaching demonstration. Students will be given two topics selected by the examination committee out of the topics listed below (one from each block). 


  1. Las vocales del español comparadas con las del inglés: fonética y fonología
  2. Sonidos consonánticos nasales y su distribución fonológica
  3. Diferencias dialectales en el inventario fonémico
  4. Las consonantes fricativas y africadas y su comportamiento dialectal
  5. Las consonantes líquidas y su comportamiento dialectal
  6. Las consonantes oclusivas en español e inglés
  7. Alternancia morfofonológica entre diptongo y vocales medias
  8. La estructura silábica del español
  9. El sistema acentual del latín y el español
  10. La entonación en español


  1. Morfemas y la formación de palabras (cap. 3 in Muñoz-Basols et al. 2017)
  2. Oraciones simples, compuestas y yuxtapuestas (cap. 4 in Muñoz-Basols et al. 2017)
  3. Las relaciones semánticas entre palabras (cap. 5 in Muñoz-Basols et al. 2017)
  4. El pronombre personal: caracterización, formas, relaciones decorreferencia y pronombres átonos (pags. 299 to 315 in Nueva gramática de la lengua española)
  5. El pronombre personal: Leísmo, laísmo, loísmo; Pronombres átonos en duplicación de complementos; formas de tratamiento (pags. 315 to 325 in Nueva gramática de la lengua española)
  6. Impersonales con se e impersonales reflejas; la pasiva refleja (pags. 782 to 788 in Nueva gramática de la lengua española)
  7. Los actos de habla (cap. 5 in Muñoz-Basols et al. 2017)
  8. Las funciones informativas: tópico, foco y adverbios de foco (pags 753 to 766 in Nueva gramática de la lengua española)

The questions have been elaborated from the following texts:

  • Javier Muñoz-Basols, Nina Moreno, Inma Taboada, and Manel Lacorte. 2017. Introducción a la lingüística hispánica actual : Teoría y práctica. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Nueva gramática de la lengua española: Manual. 2010. Madrid: Espasa.
  • José Ignacio Hualde. 2014. Los sonidos del español. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Day 1
10:00 a.m.
Submit syllabi (C2)
Receive one topic in each area (C3)

4:30 p.m.
Teaching demonstration (20 minutes presentation & 10 minutes questions)
Receive set of four questions and select two (C1)
Day 2                            
Submit answers to C1 questions

Second Examination

In preparation for the Second Examination, students develop annotated bibliographies and acquire a high level of competency in the traditional and current pursuits of the two areas of concentration which they have selected in consultation with the Examination Committee. Through research and writing of an 8000-word paper, they demonstrate their ability to conduct well-designed, thoroughly implemented original research and to make significant contributions to the field of concentration. The oral presentation of their research prepares them to present their work in professional forums.

The Second Examination has a written and an oral component. In consultation with a committee of three faculty members from LAILAC appointed by the Executive Officer, each student must identify two areas of concentration, prepare an annotated bibliography for each, and write an original research paper related to one or both areas. Possible areas of concentration include but are not limited to the socio-political history of Spanish; language policy and planning in Latin America, Spain and/or the U.S.; linguistic ideologies in the Spanish-speaking world; the pragmatics of Spanish; intercultural communication; variationist sociolinguistics and Spanish in the U.S.; Columbia School and the syntax of Spanish.
Each annotated bibliography will consist of approximately 50 articles and book chapters (full books may be included and their equivalency to number of articles must be approved by the exam committee chair). Individual entries must consist of a brief summary of the article or chapter‘s goals and conclusions. The recommended length for each entry is 300 words (longer when annotating book-length texts). Each bibliography must be preceded by a brief essay describing the area and justifying the selection of articles, book chapters, and books. The description of each area must include a precise identification of the objects of study, the preferred methods used within the field, and the theoretical framework that informs the existing approaches to said field. Each essay must have approximately 1500 words.
The research paper must contain a clear statement of the project’s position within the field, a review of the relevant literature, a well-organized presentation of the collected data, a coherent analysis, and a conclusion that highlights the project’s original contribution. The paper must have approximately 8000 words.
The oral exam will consist of a 30-minute presentation by the student based on the research paper. The presentation will be followed by questions from committee members that may refer to all components of the exam (research paper and annotated bibliographies).
Bibliographies and paper must be handed to all committee members at least twenty one days before the date of the oral exam.

Three students smiling in class

LAILAC Student Handbook

Review our program handbook on the latest policies and requirements for students in the Ph.D. Program in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures