ORIGINS OF CROS – Crossing the Borders Between English and Spanish
Founded in 2015, the research group CROS was originally created by Prof. Dr. Renata Enghels (UGent) and Prof. Dr. Diana Castilleja (VUB) as an inter-university initiative concerned with the linguistic and literary study of texts in which Spanish and English enter into contact. Its main objective was threefold.
The first consisted in contributing to a better understanding of the impact that English, and North American Society more generally, exert on the linguistic and literary productions of (emigrated) Latin-American authors. Some of CROS’s ambitions and questions in this line of research included:
- To what extent can codeswitching, as a natural linguistic phenomenon, be studied on the basis of literary works? To what extent does ‘literary Spanglish’ correspond to ‘spontaneous Spanglish’? Do authors apply codeswitching for the purpose of rhetorical effects? Systematic comparisons of particular linguistic phenomena between literary and spontaneous codeswitching corpora have been carried out, such as adjective placement, and the use of discourse markers.
- The construction of a twofold identity by Chicano-authors. Which social, cultural, religious, and regional factors are reflected in Chicano identity, and how is this concretized?
- How are social, geographical, and gender borders represented in the literature? Does language help delineate or, alternatively, transgress these borders?
Besides mapping the impact of English on Spanish used in the Americas, the group wanted to gain a deeper knowledge of the literary and linguistic products resulting from contact situations involving English and Spanish in Spain. This is because of the growing presence of English in the peninsula, most notably in the domains of mass media and education, contributing to an increasing influence of the Anglo-Saxon language and culture. An important area of inquiry in this research focus included:
- Charting the nature of the impact that the English language and culture exert on Spanish discourse and texts. As such, the resultant linguistic outcomes have been the subject of controversy: some believe that the effect on Spanish syntax and semantics is real, especially among younger generations, whereas others situate the impact mostly at the level of the lexicon. CROS’s research looks into the effects of language contact at various linguistic levels in both oral speech corpora (e.g., CORMA, COLAm) as well as literary works (e.g., Spanish translations of Harry Potter).
In its early years, CROS organized a host of activities. For example, in 2019 the group hosted its first international conference – Crossing the border between Spanish and English: current issues, future perspectives, linguistic and literary insights. Other activities included its annual internal study day (e.g., Hispanic migrants in the US between languages and cultures: an interdisciplinary approach, organized at Utrecht University in 2019); a number of research seminars (e.g., a series of seminars organized in collaboration with Leiden University Centre for Linguistics in Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2020) and panels at conferences (e.g., Cruzando Fronteras: español e inglés en contacto. Prácticas lingüísticas, ideologías e identidades, at the IX Congreso Internacional de la AHBx “Tendencias actuales en el hispanismo”, hosted by UAntwerpen in 2020).
CROS REBRANDED – Crossing the Borders: Spanish Language and Literatures in Contact(s)
Propelled by the incorporation of new members and expertise, CROS expanded its initial scope in two key ways.
A first important change comprises the buildout of its research domain from contact situations involving Spanish and English to situations where Spanish enters into cross-fertilization with other languages and cultures more generally. In Spain: contact with Basque, Catalan and Galician; in Mexico, Central and South America: contact with Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara, Maya and Guarani; in the extreme South of Latin America: contact with other European languages such as Portuguese, Italian and German. Furthermore, Spanish has been highly influential in the development of creole languages (e.g., in the Philippines and the Caribbean).
A second expansion concerns the embracement of novel research foci and themes. Examples include the integration of subjects related to intermediality, translation, multilingualism and multiculturalism, processes of L2/L3/L4 language acquisition and the impact of the native language on it, and the representation of the (Latin American) migration debate in media discourse. More information about these research axes can be found in the section Research.