Ana Celia Zentella

Professor Emeritus


Ph.D., Educational Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., Pennsylvania State University, Romance Languages and Literatures
B.A., Hunter College (Bronx), Spanish

Areas of Research

Ana Celia Zentella is one of the foremost researchers in what she has named “anthro-political linguistics”. She is a central figure in the study of U.S. Latin@ varieties of Spanish and English, Spanglish, and language socialization in Latin@ families, and a respected critic of the linguistic profiling facilitated by English-only laws and anti- bilingual education legislation. Her book, Growing up Bilingual: Puerto Rican children in New York (Blackwell, 1997) won the Book Prize of the British Association of Applied Linguistics, and the Book Award of the Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists of the American Anthropology Association. Her edited collection, Building on Strength: Language and Literacy in Latino Families and Communities (Columbia TC Press, 2005), is a popular text in the USA and Europe. Most recently, Zentella has written two books with undergraduates, one at UCSD (Multilingual San Diego: Portraits of Language Loss and Revitalization, 2008, and the other at Swarthmore College (Multilingual Philadelphia: Portraits of Language and Social Change, 2010). A major sociolinguistic study, Spanish in New York:  Language Contact, Dialectal Leveling, and Structural Continuity (Oxford University Press, 2011, was co-authored with Ricardo Otheguy.

Current projects include a study of the remapping of language, identity, and the border by college students who live in Tijuana and study in San Diego (transfronterizos), a sociolinguistic ethnography of a US high school on the Tijuana border, and research on Puerto Rican assimilation to Mexican Spanish in California.

Manhattan's Borough President Ruth Messinger declared October 30, 1997 "Doctor Ana Celia Zentella Day", for "her leading role in building appreciation for language diversity and respect for language rights". Zentella is active in the Task Force on Language and Social Justice (AAA).

In 2014 she was named Public Intellectual of the Year by the Latino Studies section/LASA. 


Zentella, Ana Celia. "Bilinguals and Borders: California's Transfronteriz@s and Competing Constructions of Bilingualism." Int'l Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest [IJLASSO]. 32.2. 2013, due Fall 2016.

Zentella, Ana Celia. "Spanglish: Language Politics vs el habla del pueblo." IN Tamargo, Mazak and Parafita Couto, Eds. Spanish-English Codeswitching in the Carribbean and the U.S. John Benjamins. 2016. 

Zentella, Ana Celia. "¿Quieren que sus hijos hablen el inglés y el español?: Un manual bilingüe / Would you like your children to speak English and Spanish?: A Bilingual Manual"

Zentella, A.C. Multilingual San Diego: Challenging Erasure. Journal of Southwest Linguistics. Sept. 2009. Otheguy, Ricardo,  A.C. Zentella, and D. Livert, Language and dialect contact in Spanish in New York:  Towards the formation of a speech community Language, Dec. 2007: 1-33.

Zentella, A.C. Dime con quíén hablas y te diré quién eres: Linguistic (In)security and Latino Unity. IN Juan Flores and Renato Rosaldo, Eds. The Blackwell Companion to Latino Studies. Malden, MA: Blackwell. PP 25-39. 2007.

A Nuyorican’s view of our history and language(s) in New York (1945-1965). In G. Haslip-Viera, A. Falcón and F. Matos Rodríguez, Eds. Boricuas in Gotham.  NY: Markus Wiener. Pp. 21-36. 2004.

Zentella, Ana Celia. "José can you see": Latin@ responses to racist discourse. Bilingual Aesthetics, Doris Sommer, ed., NY: Palgrave Press. 2003.

Zentella, Ana Celia. Latin@ Languages and Identities. Latinos! An Agenda for the 21st Century. M.Suárez-Orozco and Mariela Páez, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Language Planning/Policy and US Colonialism: The Puerto Rican Thorn in English-Only's Side. Language Policy and Planning: Sociopolitical Perspectives, Kees de Bot and Thomas Huebner, eds., John Benjamins, 2001.