English in New Mexico

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English in New Mexico
Region New Mexico
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

English in New Mexico refers to varieties of Western American English and Chicano English native to the U.S. state of New Mexico. Other languages in the region include New Mexican Spanish, Navajo, and numerous other Native American (mostly Puebloan) languages.


After the Mexican–American War, all of New Mexico's inhabitants came under the governance of the English-speaking United States, and for the next 100 years, the number of English speakers increased,[1] especially because of trade routes: Old Spanish Trail and the Santa Fe Trail. New Mexico was culturally isolated after the New Mexico Campaign of the American Civil War. Aside from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, the isolation was similar to the time that New Mexico was culturally isolated from the rest of Spanish America.

In 1910, English became the most-widely spoken language in New Mexico,[2] but New Mexican Spanish remains throughout the state and so is given a special status of recognition.[3] After statehood, the Spanish dialect continued to evolve, alongside newcomers, because of increases in travel, for example, along U.S. Route 66.[4] Some words, such as coyote, have become loanwords into American English after they had been so prevalent in New Mexican English.[5][better source needed]


According to 2006 dialect research, Albuquerque and Santa Fe natives speak Western American English but with a local development: a full–fool merger (or near-merger) in which pool, for example, merges with pull.[6] In this north-central region of the state, studies have also documented a local type of Chicano English, Northern New Mexico Chicano English, primarily spoken by rural Hispanic New Mexicans and characterized by a unique vowel shift.[7][8] Such studies show that the English of bilingual New Mexican Chicanos has been found to have a lower/shorter/weaker voice-onset time than that of typical monolingual New Mexicans[9] and that the former are more likely to show monophthongization of //.[10]


Scholarship on the English of New Mexico mentions mostly the region's unique vocabulary. The vocabulary of the Spanish and Native American languages has mixed with the English of New Mexico, leading to unique loanwords and interjections.[11] Multiple places across New Mexico also have names originating from various language other than English, including New Mexican Spanish, Navajo, and Tiwa; thus, some places have multiple names.[12]

Words and phrases

Some characteristic usage in English (often borrowed from Spanish):

Spanish arroyo ('gulch', 'creek') is frequently used in the English of New Mexico, as on this sign for a paved Albuquerque drainage ditch that was once a natural ravine.

Miscellaneous features

  • Or what and or no are added to ends of sentences to emphasize or seek confirmation of the prior question,[13][better source needed] as in "Can you see, or no?" or "Are we late, or what?"
  • New Mexico chile has had such a large impact on New Mexico's cultural heritage that it has even been entered into the Congressional Record, spelled chile, not chili.[18][19] In New Mexico, there is a differentiation for chili, which most New Mexicans equate to chili con carne.[20]

See also



  • Al-Deaibes, Mutasim (November 2014). "Romanized Arabic–English Code-switching on Facebook" (PDF). 11th High Desert Linguistics Conference. High Desert Linguistics Society. Retrieved November 5, 2015 – via ResearchGate.
  • "American English Dialect Recordings" (PDF). Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved August 29, 2014 – via Library of Congress.
  • Balukas, Colleen; Koops, Christian (2014). "Spanish-English bilingual voice onset time in spontaneous code-switching". International Journal of Bilingualism. doi:10.1177/1367006913516035. ISSN 1367-0069. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  • Boyle, Elizabeth; Evans, Anne-Marie (2008). Reading America: New Perspectives on the American Novel. Cambridge Scholars Pub. ISBN 978-1-84718-777-2. Retrieved November 4, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Busby, M. (2004). The Southwest. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures. Greenwood Press. pp. 270–271. ISBN 978-0-313-32805-3. Retrieved August 29, 2014 – via Google Books.
  • "Center for Applied Linguistics" (PDF). Washington, DC. Retrieved August 29, 2014 – via Library of Congress. Results of the survey at "Browse by". American Memory. Library of Congress. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  • Dobie, J. Frank (1948). "The Coyote's Name in Human Speech". The New Mexico Quarterly. University of New Mexico Press. 18 (2). Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  • Domenici, Pete (2004). "Resolution to express the sense of the Senate regarding English plus other languages". Congressional Record. United States Congress. 145 (Pt. 8: May 24, 1999 to June 8 1999). ISBN 978-0-16-073054-2. Retrieved May 27, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Edgerton, S. Y.; de Lara, J. P. (2001). Theaters of Conversion: Religious Architecture and Indian Artisans in Colonial Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-8263-2256-2. Retrieved November 16, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Gilbert, G. G.; Ornstein-Galicia, J. L. (1978). Problems in applied educational sociolinguistics: Readings on language and culture problems of United States ethnic groups. Janua Linguarum: Series Minor. Walter de Gruyter GmbH. ISBN 978-90-279-7726-7. Retrieved November 4, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Hernández, Pilar (1993). "Vowel shift in Northern New Mexico Chicano English". Mester. 22: 227–234.
  • Hinckley, J. (2012). The Route 66 Encyclopedia. MBI Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61058-688-7. Retrieved May 27, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • "IDEA – International Dialects of English Archive". Accents and Dialects of New Mexico. May 6, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  • Julyan, Bob; Till, Tom (1999). New Mexico's Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide. Big Earth Publishing.
  • Kessell, J. L. (1995). Kiva, Cross & Crown: The Pecos Indians and New Mexico, 1540-1840. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association. ISBN 978-1-877856-56-3.
  • King, L. S. (2009). Frommer's Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque. Frommer's Complete Guides. Wiley. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-470-43795-7. Retrieved May 31, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, pp. 187–208, ISBN 3-11-016746-8
  • Madrid, A. L. (2011). Transnational Encounters: Music and Performance at the U.S.–Mexico Border. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-987611-2. Retrieved August 3, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Miller, Joseph; Federal Writers' Program (2013) [1945]. The WPA Guide to New Mexico: The Colorful State. Works Progress Administration / Trinity University Press. ISBN 978-1-59534-229-4. Retrieved November 16, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Montaño, M. C. (2001). Tradiciones Nuevomexicanas: Hispano Arts and Culture of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-8263-2137-4. Retrieved May 31, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • "New Mexico". Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States. June 10, 2010. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Encyclopedia.com.
  • Skandera, P. (2007). Phraseology and Culture in English. Topics in English Linguistics [TiEL]. De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-019786-0. Retrieved October 23, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Smith, A.; Kraig, B. (2013). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Oxford University Press. p. 382. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2. Retrieved May 31, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Valdez, Roberto (2011). Some Homelands and Place Names of New Mexico. Council on Geographic Names and Authorities (COGNA) Conference 2011. Empresas de R.V. Retrieved May 31, 2015 – via YouTube.
  • Valle, S. D. (2003). Language Rights and the Law in the United States: Finding Our Voices. Bilingual education and bilingualism. Multilingual Matters. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-85359-658-2. Retrieved May 27, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Vaux, Bert; Golder, Scott (2003). "The Harvard Dialect Survey". Harvard University Linguistics Department. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011.
  • Weigle, M.; Levine, F.; Stiver, L. (2009). Telling New Mexico: A New History. Museum of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0-89013-579-2. Retrieved November 16, 2015 – via Google Books.
  • Wilson, Damian (May 21, 2015). The Burqueno Dialect. New Mexico News Port. Retrieved May 25, 2015 – via YouTube.

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