Jim Michnowicz PhD

Picture of Jim Michnowicz PhD

Associate Professor


Jim Michnowicz is Associate Professor of Spanish (Hispanic Lingusitics) at NC State University. He completed his undergraduate degree in Spanish Education at Ohio University, followed by a MA degree in Spanish, also at Ohio U. He then taught Spanish at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, before going back to school for his PhD in Hispanic Linguistics at Penn State University. Since graduating in 2006, he has been on faculty at NC State, where he teaches courses in Hispanic Linguistics and directs The Corpus del español de Raleigh-Durham, a collection of over 250 sociolinguistic interviews of NC Spanish. He also serves as Spanish Upper Division coordinator.

Teaching and Research Interests

My research focuses on two broad, closely related areas: 1) what happens when speakers of two different dialects of the same language (Spanish) come into contact with each other? What are the linguistic and social factors that determine the linguistic outcome of that contact – for example, what is the role of internal factors like phonological constraints vs. the role of external factors, like linguistic expressions of identity?; and 2) What happens when speakers of two different languages, specifically Spanish and indigenous languages in Latin America, come into contact? What levels of the linguistic grammar (phonology, morphology, syntax, etc.) are permeable to contact induced language change? Related to this are questions of the present day standardization of contact-varieties reported throughout Latin America. 

My current research is centered primarily on the Mexican state of Yucatan. Yucatan has been reported as one of the areas of Latin America most likely to exhibit indigenous language influence (from Yucatec Maya) (Lope Blanch, 1987; Lipski, 2004; Klee, 2009). At the same time, this variety of Spanish is extremely understudied compared with other dialects. Research on Yucatan Spanish contributes to scholarship in theoretical linguistics, dialectology/sociolinguistics and historical linguistics, in that it allows us to observe processes of shift from indigenous languages to Spanish that must have occurred in the past throughout Latin America.

I am also interested in other linguistic expressions of identity, specifically pronouns of address. Finally, I direct the Corpus del español de Raleigh-Durham (CERD) and the related project on Spanish in North Carolina, in which our team is examining a swarm of variables among recent immigrants and established heritage speakers in NC.


  • Prosodic rhythm and the acento pujado in Yucatan Spanish (with Alex Hyler, NCSU)
  • The development of a new bilingual dialect of Spanish in NC (with Rebecca Ronquest, NCSU)
  • A real time analysis of language change in Yucatan Spanish

Funded Research

  • The emergence and analysis of large bilingual speech communities (with Rebeccan Ronquest and Robin Dodsworth)
    •  $4000 from the CHASS Faculty Research and Development Program (FRDP)
  • A pilot study of Spanish in Raleigh-Durham (with Rebecca Ronquest)
    • $4000 from the CHASS  Faculty Research and Development Program (FRPD)

Extension and Community Engagement

  • Community engagement at the North Carolina State Fair and the Fiesta del Pueblo
    • With the North Carolina Language and Life Project
    • Share research and debunk linguistic myths about Spanish in NC with both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking citizens at the events



Peer-reviewed articles/chapters


  • Michnowicz, Jim, Alex Hyler, James Shepherd & Sonya Trawick. In press. “Spanish in North Carolina: English-origin loanwords in a newly forming Hispanic community”. To appear in J. Reaser, E. Wilmanks, W. Wolfram & K. Wojcik (Eds.). Language Diversity in the New South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Michnowicz, Jim, J. Scott Despain & Rebecca Gorham. 2016. “The changing system of Costa Rican pronouns of address: tuteo, voseo, and ustedeo”. In S. Rivera-Mills and M.I. Moyna (Eds.). Forms of address in the Spanish of the Americas. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 243-265.
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Laura Kagan. 2016. “On glottal stops in Yucatan Spanish”. In S. Sessarego & F. Tejedo (Eds.). Spanish language and sociolinguistic analysis. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 219-239.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2015. “Maya-Spanish contact in Yucatan, Mexico: Context and sociolinguistic implications”. In S. Sessarego and M. González Rivera (Eds.). New Perspectives on Hispanic Contact Linguistics in the Americas. Madrid: Iberoamericana/Vervuert. 21-42.
  • Barnes, Hilary & Michnowicz, Jim. 2015. “Broad focus declaratives in Veneto- Spanish bilinguals: Peak alignment and language contact”. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics, 8(1). 35-57.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2015. “Subject pronoun expression in Yucatan Spanish”. In A. Carvalho, R. Orozco, and N. Shin (Eds.). Subject Pronoun Expression in Spanish: A Cross-dialectal perspective: Washington: Georgetown University Press. 103-121. 
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Carpenter, Lindsey. 2013. “Voiceless stop aspiration in Yucatan Spanish: a sociolinguistic analysis”. Spanish in Context 10:3. 410-437. 
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Barnes, Hilary. 2013. “A sociolinguistic analysis of pre-nuclear peak alignment in Yucatan Spanish”. In C. Howe, S.E. Blackwell & M. Lubbers Quesada (Eds.). Selected proceedings of the 15th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 221-235.  
  • Barnes, Hilary & Michnowicz, Jim. 2013. “Peak alignment in bilingual Chipilo Spanish”. In A. M. Carvalho & S. Beudrie (Eds.).  Selected proceedings of the 6thWorkshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 109-122.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2012. “Thestandardization of Yucatan Spanish: Family case studies in Izamal and Mérida”. In K. Geeslin and M. Díaz-Campos (Eds.). Selected proceedings of the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium 2010. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 102-115.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2011. “Dialect standardization in Merida, Yucatan: The case of /bdg/”. Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana 18. 191-212.
  • Bishop, Kelley & Michnowicz, Jim. 2010. “Forms of address in Chilean Spanish”. Hispania 93.3, 2010. 413-429.
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Place, Soraya. 2010. “Perceptions of secondperson singular pronoun use in San Salvador, El Salvador”. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 3.2. 353-377.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2009. “Intervocalic voiced stops in Yucatan Spanish: a case of contact induced language change?” in M. Lacorte & J. Leeman (Eds.).  Español en Estados Unidos y en otros contextos de contacto: Sociolingüística, ideología y pedagogía. Madrid: Iberoamericana. 67-84.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2008. “Final nasal variation in Merida, Yucatan”. Spanish in Context 5.2. 278–303.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2007. “El habla de Yucatám: final –m in a dialect in contact” in J. Holmquist et al. (Ed.). Selected proceedings of The Third Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics (WSS3). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 38-43.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. 2006. “Final –m in Yucatan Spanish: A Rapid and Anonymous Survey” in J.P. Montreuil (Ed.). New Perspectives on Romance Linguistics. Vol. 2: Phonetics, phonology, and dialectology: selected papers from the 35th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 155-166.


Recent presentations:

  • Ronquest, Rebecca; Michnowicz, Jim & Wilbanks, Eric. “Examining the (mini-) variable swarm in the Spanish of the Southeast”. Presentation at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (HLS) 2016 at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. October 2016.
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Cortés, Claudia. “English Discourse Markers in North Carolina Spanish”. Poster presentation at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (HLS) 2016 at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. October 2016.
  • Domínguez, Kelsey & Michnowicz, Jim. “Heritage Spanish in the classroom: A sociolinguistic perspective”. Presentation at the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina (FLANC) 2016 in Durham, NC. October 2016.
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Hyler, Alex. “The acento pujado in Yucatan Spanish: prosodic rhythm and the search for the yucateco accent”. Presentation at the 8th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR. April 2016.
  • Michnowicz, Jim; Hyler, Alex; Shepherd, James & Trawick, Sonya. “Doing “Real” sociolinguistic research with undergraduates: survey data on Spanish in the US”. Poster presentation at the 8th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR. April 2016.
  • Michnowicz, Jim; Hyler, Alex; Shepherd, James & Trawick, Sonya. “Attitudes toward English-origin loanwords in NC Spanish: a sociolinguistic analysis”. Presentation accepted at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina/Spanish Linguistics in the Southeast (SLINKI/SLISE) 2016 at the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. February 2016.
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Hyler, Alex. “Rythmic timing in Yucatan Spanish”. Poster presentation accepted at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina/Spanish Linguistics in the Southeast (SLINKI/SLISE) 2016 at the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. February 2016.
  • Michnowicz, Jim. “The developing NC Spanishes: what different variables tell us about the initial stages of language contact”. Presentation at the 2015 Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference (MIFLC) at the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. October 2015.
  • Michnowicz, Jim; Ronquest, Rebecca & Sferruzzo, Caroline. “Intervocalic /bdg/ in heritage and immigrant speech in North Carolina”. Presentation at the Spanish in the US/Spanish in Contact 2015 conference at the City College of New York (CUNY), New York, NY. March 2015.
  • Ronquest, Rebecca; Michnowicz, Jim & Cooper, Meghan. “An analysis of ‘b’ and ‘v’ in heritage and immigrant speech in central North Carolina”. Presentation at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina (SLINKI) 2015 conference at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. February 2015.


  • Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics from Penn State University, 2006
  • M.A. in Spanish from Ohio University, 1998
  • B.S.Ed. in Spanish Education from Ohio University, 1996