Document Type

Honors Project


Previous research on swear-taboo words in bilinguals shows that they affirm “in-group membership” and aid in definitive identity constructions (Dewaele 2004). Equal or near-equivalent Spanish/English bilingualism in Miami-area Caribbean Latinxs provides a population of subjects with the ability to frequently code switch between both languages. Studying homophobic language used in Miami’s bilingual Latinx contexts aids in establishing a better understanding of multilingualism’s role in communities of color and its relationship to homophobic speech. The construction of Caribbean Latino queer masculinity also provides an interesting experience in identifying the role of associated gender with the severity or marginalizing force of the words in question (Kurtz 1999). This study makes use of structured questionnaires with 10 straight Miami Caribbean Latino men who evaluate the insulting intent of homophobic language in English and Caribbean Spanish on a linear scale from 1-3, 1: Doesn’t seem like intended to be an insult, 3: Intended to be directed anger. The emotional reaction data is analyzed to identify the power dynamics and social pressures at play behind the populations using English and Spanish homophobic slurs and their emotional impact on Caribbean Latino masculinities. In addition to the data on their evaluation of insulting quality, recordings of acted slurs in English and Spanish by bilingual Miami Cubans are used to see if there are noticeable intonational differences between the speech signals and how manipulations are perceived by listeners in relation to degree of insult. This research has broad implications for understanding the role that intonation plays in the interpretation of emotion behind insulting speech acts and the way homophobia is realized in the speech of bilingual communities.

Included in

Linguistics Commons



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