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.  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 ContactDialectal Leveling, and Structural Continuity (Oxford University Press, 2011, was co-authored with Ricardo Otheguy.

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".  The Society for Linguistic Anthropology honored her with its Public Outreach & Community Service award in 2016. In 2014, she was named Public Intellectual of the Year by the Latino Studies section/LASA. 




Aquí no se cogen las guaguas: Language and Puerto Rican Identity in San Diego.   IN  Dialects from Tropical Islands: Caribbean Spanish in the United States. Eds, W. Valentín-Márquez & M. González-Rivera, Routledge.2019.

“LatinUs and Linguistics: Complaints, conflicts, and contradictions – the anthro-political linguistics solution” Questioning Theoretical Primitives in Linguistic Inquiry. Papers in honor of Ricardo Otheguy, Shin, N. L.& D. Erker (eds.) , John Benjamins.  2018.

"Linguistically Isolated': Challenging the U.S. Census Bureau's harmful classification" IN N. Avineri, R.C. Riner, L.R. Graham, E. Johnson, and J.Rosa, Eds. Language and Social Justice in Practice.  Routledge, 2018.

Spanglish . IN Keywords for Latino Studies. L.La Fountain-Stokes, D. Vargas, N. Mirabal, Eds. NYU Press. 2017. [2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title] 

"Socials", "Poch@s", "Normals" y Los de Más: School Networks and Linguistic Capital of High School Students on the Tijuana-San Diego Border".  IN H. S. Alim, J. R. Rickford, and A. F. Ball, Eds. Raciolinguistics :How Language Shapes Our Ideas About Race . Oxford UP, 2016

Spanglish: Language Politics vs el habla del pueblo.  IN Spanish- English codeswitching in the Caribbean and the U.S.  Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics John Benjamins, R E. Guzzardo, C.M. Mazak, & M.Parafita Couto, Eds.  2016.

Bilinguals and Borders: California‘s Transfronteriz@s and Competing Constructions of Bilingualism., Int’l Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest [IJLASSO] volume 32.2: 17-50. 2013.

Multilingual San Diego: Challenging Erasure. Journal of Southwest Linguistics. Sept./09 

Dime con quíén hablas y te diré quién eres: Linguistic (In)security and Latino Unity. IN J. Flores and R. 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.

 "José can you see": Latin@ responses to racist discourse. Bilingual AestheticsSommer, Ed., NY: Palgrave Press. 2003.

 Latin@ Languages and Identities. Latinos: An Agenda for the 21st CenturyM.Suárez-Orozco and M. 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, K. de Bot and T. Huebner, Eds., John Benjamins, 2001.

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.