CHAPTER II - REVIEW OF LITERATURE
In order to establish a conceptual background on which to
base the study, language shift and language maintenance is
discussed taking as a point of departure Fishman's work, "The
spread of English as a new perspective for the study of language
maintenance and language shift" (Fishman, Cooper and Conrad,
1977), Fasold's discussion of the same topic in The
Sociolinguistics of Society (1984), Dressler's "Acceleration,
Retardation, and Reversal in Language Decay" (Dressler, W. U.
(1982). Acceleration, retardation, and reversal in language
decay. In R. Cooper (Ed.) Language spread: Studies in diffusion
and social change. (pp. 331-336). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana
University Press.¯1982), the chapter on language death in J.
Aitchison's Language Change: Progress or Decay (Aitchison, J.
(1981). Language death. Language change: process or decay?
(pp. 208-221). Great Britain: Montana Paperbacks.¯1981),
"Language of Imperialism: Unity or Pluralism by E. Haugen
(Haugen, E. (1985). Language of imperialism: Unity or pluralism?
In N. Wolfson and J. Manes (Eds.). Language of inequality. (pp.
3-17). Berlin: Mouton.¯1985), Beer and Jacob's Language Policy
and Language Unity (Beer, W. and Jacob J. (1985). Language
policy and language unity. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowan and
Allenheld Publishers.¯1985), "The Ultimate Inequality: Linguistic
Genocide" by R. Day (Day, R. (1985). The ultimate inequality:
linguistic genocide. In N. Wolfson and J. Manes (Eds.). Language
of inequality. (pp. 163-193). Berlin: Mouton.¯1985) and also on
Joshua Fishman's work on Reversing Language Shift (1991).
Language planning is discussed in relation to Fasold's
chapter on "Language Planning and Standardization" in The
Sociolinguistics of Society (1984), Fishman's work "The Impact of
Nationalism on Language and Language Planning" (1972), Haugen
(1985), Beer and Jacob (1985) and Fishman (1991).
The concepts of nationalism and its effects on language are
based on Joshua Fishman's essays "The Nature of Nationalism" and
"The Impact of Nationalism on Language and Language Planning"
compiled in his book Language and Nationalism (1972), as well as
Beer and Jacob (1985) and E. Lewis's "Movements and Agencies of
Language Spread: Wales and the Soviet Union Compared" (Lewis, E.
(1982). Movements and agencies of language spread: Wales and the
Soviet Union compared. In R. Cooper (Ed.). Language spread:
Studies in diffusion and social change. (pp. 214-259).
Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.¯1982). A brief
historical background for Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico
are also provided.
Language Shift and Language Maintenance
Language shift and maintenance are terms that refer to a
choice made by a society as to which language will be used for
certain functions. This choice may lead to the death of another
language in its totality, leaving no speakers of the language, or
death of the language in a specific community only. If this
shift does not occur, or if it occurs only in certain domains of
a society, then some degree of language maintenance occurs.
Several conditions have been identified that will promote
language shift. These conditions include societal bilingualism,
migration, industrialization, the school's and government's use
of the language, urbanization, and the prestige level of the
languages in contact.
Societal bilingualism must exist at some point for language
shift to occur. A monolingual society may inevitably remain
monolingual unless an additional language is introduced that will
affect the economic or power balance achieved through the
languages (Aitchison, 1981; Day, 1985). Bilingualism can
ultimately lead to language shift in a society and is often
marked by intergenerational switching of the languages (Fasold,
1984; Dressler, 1984, Aitchison, 1981; Fishman, 1991). This
switching and possible shifting is often discernible in sources
such as census data where the number of informants reporting a
given language has declined.
Another factor associated with language shift is that of
migration. As often observed with military occupations, a large
number of speakers of the other language may migrate or be
imported to a society. At times these speakers may in fact
outnumber the native population of the area, creating an
environment propitious for language shift (Fasold, 1984;
Lieberson, S. (1982). Forces affecting language spread: Some
basic propositions. In R. Cooper (Ed.). Language spread: Studies
in diffusion and social change. (pp. 37-62). Bloomington,
Indiana: Indiana University Press.¯Lieberson, 1984; Beer and
Jacob, 1985; Fishman, 1991).
Although societal bilingualism and the number of speakers of
another language are factors that influence language shift, they
are often mere results of other existing conditions. One of the
conditions is industrialization (Fasold, 1984; Fishman, 1977,
1991). Often, industrialization and/or modernization brings with
it the need for another language or another language-speaking
population more adapted to the technological environment that
this process generates.
Lieberson (1984) also mentions that the association of a
language with modern transportation and communication may lead to
a shift towards that language. The society in which it occurs
may then find that only through the learning of an additional
language will the people have access to social mobility via the
power and resources that industrialization brings (Day, 1985;
Beer and Jacob, 1985; Fasold, 1984; Fishman, 1977, 1991). These
resources include access to better job opportunities,
specialized knowledge needed for progress and in general, to
higher prestige and privileges associated with this language. "In
those settings in which either the myth or reality of social
mobility is widespread, bilingualism is repeatedly skewed in
favor of the more powerful being acquired and used much more
frequently than that of the lesser power" (Fishman, 1977, p.
115). So whereas societal bilingualism is necessary for language
shift, it may be the onslaught of industrialization and
consequent denial of access to resources by those who do not
speak a given language, that serve as impetus to language shift.
Fishman specifically identifies the amount of American
investments in an area as a factor to be considered when
examining the spread of English (1977).
Still another factor promoting language shift and discussed
extensively by sociolinguists is the language used in schools and
by the government. In order for language shift to occur, the
spreading language must allow access to power and resources, and
this is achieved primarily through the educational process. It
is education that will allow people access to better positions,
specialized knowledge and control over human and material
resources. "For language spread, schools have long been the major
formal (organized) mechanisms involved..."(Fishman, 1977, p.
116). The school policy may also include the promotion of the
cultural characteristics related to a particular language and a
deemphasis on cultural aspects of the natives including in some
cases the prohibition of vernacular use on school grounds
(Fishman, 1991; Day, 1985).
The language used in other government agencies is also of
some importance in that institutional (governmental) support of a
language can be essential in spread or maintenance (Fasold, 1984;
Dressler, 1984; Beer and Jacob, 1985; Lewis, 1982; Fishman,
1991). "The language that governments use for legislative debate
and the language in which laws are written and government
documents are issued are also means that can be used to promote a
selected language or language variety" (Fasold, p. 253). It
seems, then, that the language that the government chooses for
its schools and for communication with its people can also
promote language shift if there is no support for the maintenance
of the native language.
Urbanization and prestige are two other factors that have
been identified as influential in language spread and shift.
Along with industrialization, there is often a move away from
rural life and migration toward urban areas. These urban areas
are often the focal points of spread (Fishman, 1977; Fasold,
1985), probably because they are also the focal points of
economic growth in industrialized societies. However, it is in
these urban areas, that the people may also come in contact with
the major part of the educated sector of the society that will
promote or create organized resistance to the spread of the new
language and the prestige associated with it (Beer and Jacob,
1985; Fishman, 1972).
Dressler (1984) refers to the process of raising the
prestige level of the spreading language as the native language
slowly loses prestige "social subordination". This is the first
step in language decay according to Dressler. As the native
language loses prestige and is used less in social functions,
this social subordination leads to a "negative sociopsychological
evaluation" of the language. Native speakers of a language may
"voluntarily" shift to another more prestigious language.
The organized efforts to preserve and defend ethnocultural
distinctiveness, often symbolized by the language associated with
the group, constitute nationalism and are considered as a
movement that can promote the spread or maintenance of a language
(Lewis, 1985; Dressler, 1982). In his work Language and
Nationalism, Fishman (1972) defines nationalism as the
"organizationally heightened and elaborated beliefs, attitudes
and behaviors of societies acting on behalf of their avowed
ethnocultural self interest" (p. 5). He distinguishes between the
term "nationalism" and the term "nationism" which is used more to
describe organized efforts towards political autonomy. He
identifies three components of nationalism: the expansion or
generalizing of perceived ethnocultural characteristics, the
stress on the recognition and importance of these characteristics
and an emphasis on the past traditions, values and symbols
normally preserved by the lower classes.
Although the characteristics chosen as representative or
distinctive of the ethnocultural group may not be part of the
reality of all members of this group, nationalism attempts to
convince the masses that these characteristics are the
differentiating cultural traits and that they are important in
maintaining a national identity. This is most easily done by
choosing behaviors, beliefs and traditions from the past and
emphasizing the authenticity and nobility of the same (Fishman,
1977; Dressler, 1982). The lower classes are normally seen as the
source of these traditions and consequently the source of
national identity. "It is part of the specific nature of the
nationalist (...) stress on authenticity to find it in the lower
classes and the distant past" (Fishman, 1972, 8).
The purpose of nationalist groups then is to define
ethnocultural characteristics that can be generalized to all
components of the society's population, promote their importance
in maintaining national identity and in some cases create
similarities in characteristics between different sectors of the
population where they may not exist in reality (1977, 1991).
Their objective is to create unity by promoting a generalized
perception of similar ethnocultural characteristics.
Not surprisingly, nationalist movements almost always
originate among the educated sector of a society (Fishman, 1972;
Beer and Jacob, 1985). This is the group that has the knowledge
and power to manipulate the different symbols and is better able
to perceive the differences because of its contact with other
power sources. It is inevitably this sector that will feel
threatened when access to human and material resources is
suddenly limited because of the new governmental or economic
Nationalism is, therefore, not merely a by-product or a
response to the evils of unplanned change. It is also an
instrument on behalf of further directed changes. Even the
agony of military defeat by Western powers has such
consequences in that it helps bring to the fore new
indigenous elites that are more selective with respect to
the uses of the past in directing the future" (Fishman, 1972,
Language and Nationalism
Because the ethnocultural characteristics promoted through
nationalism are not always the reality of all the population or
because elements of the past are not readily available in the
everyday life of the people in a society, nationalists often use
language as a symbol of national identity and at the same time as
an instrument to promote the distinctiveness of the group. The
intellectuals in a society frequently serve as the leaders of
nationalist movements have the ability to use language
effectively as an instrument of power for them and the people
they represent (Fishman, 1972; Beer and Jacob, 1985). Language
is somewhat permanent and alive whereas other symbols of national
identity, particularly those drawn from the past, can be elusive.
Language can be used not only as a symbol of ethnocultural
identity but also as a means for transmitting associated beliefs
Although the language of a particular group or society can be
used as a symbol of national identity and unity, this alone may
not suffice to assure its maintenance in an environment where
conditions exist promoting language shift (Beer and Jacob, 1985).
The language must have the capacity to apply to the changing
society. In order for maintenance to occur, the language must
eventually be able to guarantee its usefulness in complex modern
societies. Some of the characteristics essential for this are an
accepted orthography and phonology, uniform grammar, extensive
lexicon and communicative capacity for a variety of technical and
non-technical, formal and intimate environments (Fishman, 1972).
This is where language planning is needed, and nationalist
movements can play a major role in promoting the linguistic
policies needed to maintain the native language vital.
Nationalism and Language Planning
The role of nationalist groups in language planning can take
many forms. One important responsibility of nationalism with
regard to language is the maintenance of native language usage
and other ethnocultural symbols in the majority of the societal
domains. If most of the societal institutions are left untouched
or stable, the population will have a strong ethnocultural base
to hold onto while acquiring an additional language that will
allow for social mobility (Fishman, 1977, 1991; Aitchison, 1981).
"Whatever linguistic practice is the object of planning must be
accepted by members of the society where the planning is taking
place" (Fasold, 1984, 256). If nationalists encourage the
creation of linguistic policies and plans that promote both
participation in rapid societal changes and the preservation of
traditions, beliefs, and the language that represents national
identity, acceptance will come more readily. In addition, by
participating in the formation of linguistic policies that
include the native language, the institutional support needed for
language maintenance will exist (Fasold, 1984; Lewis, 1982).
In order to maintain the native language in the face of a
newly introduced or imposed language that is more readily adapted
to the modern technological world, language planning programs
must be undertaken. Haugen (1985) defines four essential
ingredients for a successful language planning program: language
choice, codification, elaboration and implementation.
In a society with much linguistic diversity, it may be
necessary to choose a lingua franca from the existing native
languages. Nationalists may find resistance to this choice, and
often the colonial tongue may be preferred by natives rather than
elevate one indigenous language over another (Beer and Jacob,
1985). But through efforts to preserve ethnocultural
distinctiveness, nationalist movements may in fact promote shift
from one indigenous language to another, particularly when the
languages are similar linguistically and the speakers of one
language significantly outnumber those of the other (Aitchison,
1981; Fasold, 1984; Beer and Jacob, 1985).
Language codification (or the existence or creation of a
written form) is essential in language maintenance (Fishman,
1991; Haugen, 1985; Dressler, 1982). The further elaboration of
this written form to include vocabulary essential for
communication in the modern technological environment is also a
determining factor in language maintenance (Haugen, 1985;
Fishman, 1972; Lieberson, 1982).
Finally, it is necessary to implement a language policy that
will incorporate the use of the chosen vernacular(s) in the
schools and other societal domains in order to assure its (their)
survival (Haugen, 1985; Fishman , 1972, 1977, 1991; Fasold, 1984;
Beer and Jacob, 1985; Day, 1985; Lewis, 1985). This reverses the
process of language decay (Dressler, 1982) by halting social
subordination and providing for the social utility of the
language (Fishman, 1991). Such language planning can be done
through "agencies" (Lewis, 1985) of language spread which are
formalized nationalist movements whose purpose is to preserve the
native language(s) or ethnocultural distinctiveness in general
including the language.
Nationalism, Language Shift and Language Maintenance
The role of nationalism in creating institutional support is
clear, but its function in promoting language shift or
maintenance can be examined further in light of the previous
expositions. Fasold (1984) tells us that "although many of the
most often-cited sociological factors [migration, urbanization,
industrialization, etc.] are present when a shift does occur, it
is all too easy to find cases in which some speech community is
exposed to the very same factors, but has maintained its
language" (p. 217).
The existence of nationalist movements may well be one of
the reasons for maintenance of the native language even when
conditions for shift are present. Without a doubt, institutional
support for the native language would not be possible if not for
some group exerting pressure for its maintenance. Also,
nationalists create or expand upon the ethnocultural differences
between the two language groups. They create ethnic and
ideological associations with the native language; however, by
accentuating the distinctiveness of this group in comparison with
the other, ethnic and ideological associations can be created for
the other group and its language as well. "Ethnic and
ideological encumberedness can pose problems for the spread of
LWC" [a language of wider communication, in this case English]
(Fishman, 1977). Nationalists, while promoting their own
ethnocultural uniqueness symbolized by the native language may,
at the same time, be creating an ethnic and ideological
identification for English which stifles spread and shift to this
language (Dressler, 1982; Fishman, 1977; Lewis, 1985). Finally,
it would seem to be the nationalists' push toward language
planning policies that permits the choice and adaptation of the
native language through linguistic engineering or other means
that allows for access to economic and social progress by means
of this language. When the instrumental motivation to learn the
additional language no longer exists or has lessened, language
shift is also less likely to occur.
Nationalism's emphasis on language loyalty appears to play a
role not only in native language maintenance but also in impeding
the spread of and/or shift to another language in some cases.
An examination of national language movements, conditions for
language shift and maintenance and language planning efforts in
Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico could provide relevant
information on nationalism and its influence in these areas.
When Magellan discovered the island now known as Guam in
1521, he came across a highly developed indigenous population
with a well-established class system. The Chamorros were a
caste-based society with the higher class consisting of the
craftsmen and skilled workers that were presumably direct
descendants of the first immigrants to establish themselves on
the island. The middle class contained relatives to the first or
noble class, and the lower class was made up of Indians from
other tribes or ancestries who worked as servants for the upper
classes. The Chamorros were a highly ethnocentric group who
considered themselves to be the originators of mankind and their
language the original language. All other men and languages were
mutants or variants of their noble and pure line (Beardsley,
1964; Sanchez, 1987).
It was not until 1668 that Spanish colonization began on the
island with the arrival of the Jesuit priest Father Sanvitores.
Sanvitores began the education of the Indians known as Chamorros
in an intent to "civilize" and Christianize them much in the
manner he had done in Mexico. The first step that Jesuits took
in the education of the Indians was to educate everyone equally.
This was the beginning of an acculturation process that would
have effects far into the future. The nobles were treated as
equals to the lower class and as inferior to the Spaniards, who,
according to the Chamorros, had descended from them (Beardsley,
1964; Sanchez, 1987).
The Chamorro Indians were a proud group that did not take
kindly to the interference by what they considered to be an
inferior people. In 1670, there was an Indian revolt against the
Jesuits and in 1672, Father Santivores was killed. The Jesuits
did not arrive to the island alone, however, and the soldiers who
accompanied them quickly brought the Indians under control
(Beardsley, 1964; Sanchez, 1987).
In 1769, the Jesuits were expelled from Guam and the
Catholics took over the religious instruction of the remaining
indigenous population. Even as far back as 1790, the Chamorros
began to feel the effects of oppressive language policies since
Spanish was required for those who wished to work with the
government. By 1898, when Guam was turned over to the United
States as part of the Paris Treaty with Spain, there were schools
in every major town controlled by the Catholic church and using
Spanish as the medium of instruction. Chamorro was used as the
language of the Church for teaching catechism (Underwood, 1980;
Beardsley, 1964; Sanchez, 1987).
When the Americans arrived in Guam, the Chamorros were far
from the once proud and courageous Indians encountered by
Magellan in 1521. The diminished Chamorro population had,
however, developed 75% literacy in their native language and 50%
literacy in Spanish (Beardsly, 1964). There had been no
literature written in the Chamorro tongue or in Spanish by
Chamorro authors, but the Jesuits had used the Spanish alphabet
to convert the Chamorro language to a written form.
The Americans immediately set to educating the Chamorros in
the English language. They felt that converting the Chamorros
into good Americans through the English language was in their
best interests (Underwood, 1984). English use, which was
immediately associated with economic advancement, was promoted in
the schools, at work and at home (Sanchez, 1987). Technicians
and professionals who spoke English were imported, thus affording
fewer job opportunities for those who spoke only Chamorro.
"English: the Road to Success" was the slogan used in the schools
to promote the use of English (Underwood, 1984). The government
urged parents to use English in the home. More importantly, the
use of Chamorro was degraded. At school, children were told that
Chamorro was not really a language but just a dialect. Teachers
of Chamorro origin were not hired if they had not taken and
passed a training in English. The majority of job opportunities
were provided by the government and inaccessible to those who
spoke no English. Any language other than English was prohibited
in public buildings (Underwood, 1984, personal communication,
Duncga, July 28, 1993). The Guamanian parents, faced with the
propaganda for English in the schools and the impossibility of
economic advancement without knowledge of the language, began to
speak English to their children at home in hopes of providing a
more secure economic future for them.
In 1902, an earthquake devastated the island and forced the
schools to close for two years until 1904. In 1906, English was
made the official language for the courts and other legal
procedures (Potts, (1906, September 16) Special Order 17,
Government of Guam.¯Potts, 1906). The Chamorro language was
forbidden on government property or in the presence of military
personnel (Day, 1985). In 1922, Chamorro was prohibited on school
grounds and Chamorro dictionaries were collected and burned (Day,
1985). The schools were again closed in 1941 when the Japanese
occupied Guam during World War II until 1944 when the Americans
retook the island.
Up until this date the American children in Guam had been
segregated from the Chamorros, but in 1944 the schools were
desegregated. The desegregation brought a reemphasis on the
teaching of English. All teachers were required to take training
in English in order to teach. In 1950, the Guamanians were
granted U.S. citizenship, and the results of the school system's
obsession with English became evident as an all-Chamorro
legislature voted that English be the official language of Guam.
A law was passed that prohibited the use of any language except
for English in public buildings (Underwood, 1981; personal
communication, Duncga, July 27, 1993). The use of the native
Chamorro language had already begun to diminish, but it was not
until the 1970's that efforts would be made to rescue the remains
of the disappearing language.(Beardsley, 1965; Underwood, 1984).
Magellan also arrived in the Philippines in 1521, and it was
here that he was killed in a local dispute. His successor,
Miguel L¢pez de Legaspi was well received by the Islanders in
1564 (Corpuz, 1965).
The Spaniards did not mix with the Filipinos but instead
used them as their workforce and servants and by 1780 had
established agricultural export for commercial purposes. Of
course, the Spaniards benefited far more from the business than
the Filipinos (Corpuz,1965).
Spanish, by law, had to be taught to all of the natives and,
as in Guam, knowledge of the Spanish language was mandatory in
order to hold a public office. Although the law required that
Spanish be taught to all, many (particularly the friars in charge
of religious instruction) felt that teaching Spanish to the
natives was unwise in that it could expose them to ideas that
might make them less submissive. Nevertheless, by the 1880's,
Filipinos were being educated in universities all over the world
Probably due to the return of those educated in schools and
universities in different parts of the world, national
consciousness was aroused. These Filipinos no longer saw
themselves as inferior to other nationalities, and the first
books published by Filipino authors began to appear (Corpuz,
In 1896, again probably due to the consciousness-raising of
the Filipinos, the first revolt against Spanish oppression and a
move towards political independence occurred. On June 12, 1898,
Emilio Aguinaldo, one of the leaders of the revolt declared
independence for the Philippines.
Unfortunately, while Aguinaldo was formalizing independence
for the island, the United States and Spain were making other
plans. Manila was occupied almost immediately by U.S. forces,
and guerrilla resistance to the new colonial government persisted
until Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 (Corpuz, 1965).
In contrast to the Spanish rule, the Americans began immediately
to give important positions in the government to the Filipino
elite. Because these people were also the leaders of the
separatist movements, and were not denied access to socioeconomic
progress, separatist resistance to the American regime was
quieted. It was, in fact, the Americans who helped to design a
plan for providing independence for the Philippines, with the
condition that English language instruction be maintained in the
As in Guam, English language instruction along with an
American culture and value system were incorporated into the
public school system (Corpuz, 1965; Bocca 1974; Paez, 1985). The
Philippines were sold on the American way of life, and although
the pro-independence party dominated the political scene from
1907 to 1946, anti-American sentiments were not tolerated by the
native politicians. (Corpuz, 1965; Bocca, 1974).
From 1941 to 1945, the Philippines was occupied by the
Japanese. The Islands were totally devastated, and more than one
million Filipinos died during World War II. However, soon after
the Americans recaptured the Islands, the much promised
independence was granted to the Philippines on July 4, 1946, even
though they were still recovering from the destruction left from
the War (Corpuz,1965).
Although the language problem in the Philippines was
recognized in the 1930's, attempts to form a national language
based on Tagalog at the time were rejected. However, there was
approval for the formation of a common national language based on
the different languages of the Philippine people. It was decided
that Pilipino, a literary version of Tagalog, would be the
foundation for this language. Much opposition to the choice
existed due to the fact that Tagalog was not the language spoken
by the majority; even in 1967, less than two thirds of the
population spoke it (Smolicz,1986). Corpuz (1965) reported that
80 different dialects were spoken on the island but that 86%
spoke at least one of the 8 major dialects on the island.
However, only 44.5% of the population were reported to speak
Tagalog, 39.5% English and 2% Spanish.
Nationalist movements to promote the use of a national
language did not desist; however, because of the great resistance
to the use of the Tagalog-based language Pilipino by non-Tagalog
speaking groups, in 1987, Pilipino was substituted for Filipino
as the national language. Filipino is a
linguistically-engineered language based on Tagalog grammar but
including components from all of the major linguistic groups of
the Philippines. In recent years, more time in the schools has
been dedicated to Filipino and less to English, but the school
system is clearly modeled after the U.S. educational system
(Bocca, 1974). Curiously enough, although the campaign to
promote Filipino is active, English is still the preferred
language of instruction Sibayan, B. P. (1975). Survey of language
use and attitudes towards language in the Philippines. In
O'hannession, Ferguson and Poleme (Eds.) Language surveys in
developing countries. (pp. 15-135). Arlington, Virginia: Center
for Applied Linguistics.¯in politics, in business and in high
society (Sibayan, 1975; Bocca, 1974). However, the 1980 census
reports that only 52% of the people on the island speak English
as a second language. Nationalist efforts in their attempt to
achieve the transition of all other Philippine tongues to
Filipino have placed less emphasis on the teaching of English.
Although data seems to indicate that Filipino is replacing
English as the lingua franca in the Philippines, English
continues to be the language of the schools, the government, the
courts, law, business and of science and technology (Sibayan,
1975) while all of the 70 languages reported in the 1974 census
continue to be used at home (Bocca, 1974).
The Spanish arrived in Puerto Rico in 1493 and found an
indigenous population, the Tainos, of about 50,000 to 70,000.
This population had been eliminated by violence and disease by
the middle of the 16th century. Colonization began in 1508 with
the arrival of Juan Ponce de Le¢n. Schools were established by
the church to train future clergyman, and teaching was done by
the church with clergymen from the Dominican or Franciscan
orders. The first public school was established in 1732, and a
law school had been established by 1840 so that before the
arrival of the Americans, Puerto Ricans were being educated on
their own land as well as in universities in Europe. Although 892
schools had been established by 1898 when the Americans took
command, the illiteracy rate was an astounding 80% (Berr¡os
Mart¡nez, R. (1983). La independencia de Puerto Rico: Raz¢n y
lucha. Mexico: Editorial L¡nea.¯Berr¡os, 1983; L¢pez Yustos, A.
(1985). Historia documental de la educaci¢n en Puerto Rico:
1503-1970. Puerto Rico: Sandeman, Inc.¯L¢pez Yustos, 1985;
Maldonado Denis, M. (1972). Puerto Rico: A sociohistoric
interpretation. New York: American Books-Stratford
Press.¯Maldonado Denis, 1972).
Almost immediately upon the arrival of the Americans, the U.
S. appointed governor, Eaton-Clarke, established instruction in
English for all levels. This was the beginning of a tug-of-war
between U.S. government's desire for Puerto Ricans to be
English-speakers and the resistance to the use of English in the
schools by teachers, writers, and local politicians. The
different school language policies changed continually due to the
conflicting pressures exerted on the Commissioners of Education
of the time.
In 1900, Commissioner of Education Brumbaugh, recognizing
the different linguistic problem of Puerto Rico in comparison
with other U.S. possessions, established Spanish as the medium of
instruction through the eighth grade with English used together
with Spanish in the first grade. English was used as the medium
of instruction from grades nine through twelve under this policy.
In 1903, Commissioner Faulkner reestablished English as the
medium of instruction at all levels. In 1916, Commissioner
Miller established Spanish as the medium of instruction until
the fourth grade, English and Spanish for the fifth grade and
English in grades six through twelve.
By 1917, the United States granted citizenship to the Puerto
Rican people, but this did not solve the language dispute.
Miller's language policy remained in effect until 1934 when
Commissioner Pad¡n established Spanish as the medium of
instruction until the eighth grade with English as a special
subject at all levels. Although Gallardo, Pad¡n's successor,
made several attempts to revise the policy in accordance with
requests made by the U.S. government,he was unsuccessful. In
1948, Luis Mu¤oz Mar¡n was elected as the first Puerto
Rican-selected governor of the Island, and he appointed Mariano
Villaronga as Commissioner of Education. In 1949,Commissioner
Villaronga established Spanish as the vehicle of instruction at
all levels and English being taught as a special subject. To this
day, Spanish continues to be the medium of instruction and
English is taught as a second language at all levels.
Much of the constant variation in language policies in
Puerto Rico's public school system was due to the fact that any
attempts to establish English as the medium of instruction were
met with a great deal of resistance from the intelligentsia.
Leaders such as Luis Mu¤oz Rivera, Jos‚ de Diego, Epifanio
Fern ndez-Vanga and Francisco Vicenty stated from the beginning
that it was futile to think that the Americans and their language
could possibly represent the Puerto Rican people. Antonio
Barcel¢ and Jos‚ Tous-Soto joined with Fern ndez-Vanga warning
the Puerto Rican people of the dangers of biculturalism and
bilingualism. Vicente G‚igel, Samuel Qui¤ones and Jos‚ Pad¡n
stated that the attempt to Americanize the Puerto Ricans through
the teaching of English would lead to the loss of Spanish. The
Puerto Rican Teachers Association complained of the poor
education their students were receiving because of the use of
English. Teachers and politicians joined to defend the Spanish
language and all that it symbolized in a way that made it
impossible to refute. In 1949, the Americans were forced to
accept Spanish as the vernacular of instruction in the schools
(Alegren de Guti‚rrez, 1985; Negr¢n de Montilla, 1977; Osuna,
1949; L¢pez Yustos, 1985 Cebollero, 1945).
The government established English and Spanish as the
co-official languages of the Island in 1902, and although the
debate over the linguistic policy in the schools had been
resolved for the most part by 1949, the conflict over which
language or languages should be included in official language
policy continued. In 1991, Governor Rafael Hern ndez Col¢n
passed a law which placed Spanish as the only official language,
sparking a great deal of debate and criticism mostly from the
political party in favor of statehood. Governor Hern ndez Col¢n,
who favors the current Commonwealth status, lost the following
election to Dr. Pedro Rossell¢ from the statehood party. Among
Rossell¢'s many campaign promises was the vow to overturn the
dubbed "Spanish Only" law. True to his promise the official
language policy was revised to once again include English
together with Spanish as the official languages of Puerto Rico.
In spite of the inclusion of English as an official language
of Puerto Rico, English is not used much on the Island except in
the tourist industry and in very specific situations such as on
licensing exams for certain professions and in the federal
courts. It is also used by the small community of Americans
residing on the Island and by the return migrant population.
However, for the most part, Spanish is the language of choice and
used by the Puerto Ricans in all domains. The 1990 Census showed
that 68% of the population could not speak English. Spanish is
used at home, in church, in most businesses, as the medium of
instruction in the schools, as the language of the Puerto Rican
judicial system, and as the principal means of communication
between the government and its people.