“No Problemo”: Mock Spanish and Language Hierarchies in the United States

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences


English Department

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Gail Shuck


This research analyzes the use of Spanish words or phrases among monolingual English speakers, termed by linguistic anthropologist Jane Hill as Mock Spanish. Mock Spanish is used to describe the usage of Spanish or Spanish-inspired phrases in an often comedic manner — argued to attribute to stereotyping and form a version of covert racism. A notable example is the usage of the phrase “no problemo.” The research draws on a mix of in-person interviews and media, (such as advertisements), analyzing the underlying language ideologies — systems of beliefs about language and its speakers — that contribute to the usage of these linguistic features, as well as the attitudes speakers have towards them. Furthermore, it aims to explore the place that Spanish and English hold within local language hierarchies and highlight the ways in which speakers reinforce said hierarchies through beliefs and usage. These hierarchies refer to the status that each respective language holds in relation to one another. Finally, it takes on the question of whether or not the provided data indicates a stance (consciously or not) of “making fun of” Spanish speakers themselves.

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