Dr Jim Michnowicz

Picture of Dr Jim Michnowicz

Associate Professor

Biography

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.

Projects

  • 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

Publications

Books

Peer-reviewed articles/chapters

Presentations

Recent presentations:

  • Michnowicz, Jim. “Convergence, Change and New Dialect Formation: The Past, Present and Future of Yucatan Spanish”. Presentation at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina (SLINKI) conference 2018 at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. February 2018.
  • Ronquest, Rebecca, Jim Michnowicz, Eric Wilbanks & Claudia Cortés. “A Multi-variable Analysis of Spanish in the Southeast”. Poster presentation at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina (SLINKI) conference 2018 at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC. February 2018.
  • Michnowicz, Jim and Hyler, Alex. “A real-time analysis of the changing accent of Yucatan Spanish”. Presentation at the 57th Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Wilmington, NC. October 2017.
  • Michnowicz, Jim; Ronquest, Rebecca; Wilbanks, Eric & Cortés, Claudia. “Characterizing Spanish in the Southeastern United States: A multi-variable analysis”. Presentation at the 57th Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Wilmington, NC. October 2017.
  • Michnowicz, Jim & Hyler, Alex. “The changing accent of Yucatan Spanish: a study in sociolinguistic real time”. Presentation at the Spanish in the US/Spanish in Contact conference 2017 at Brigham Young University, Provo UT. April 2017. 
  • Trawick, Sonya & Michnowicz, Jim. “A sociolinguistic analysis of glottal stop insertion in Paraguayan Spanish”. Presentation at the Spanish in the US/Spanish in Contact conference 2017 at Brigham Young University, Provo UT. April 2017. 
  • 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.

Education

  • 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