Language, identity and empowerment: The case of Spanish in the Southwest

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9 Scopus citations


This article addresses the relationship between language and identity and language and power. Language is viewed as an important vehicle through which empowerment can occur in society and through which social workers can contribute to the empowerment of dual language individuals and communities. Language suppression is viewed through the framework of bilinguaphobia, a term coined by Faltis and Coulter in 2004. Because of the long and unique history of Spanish in Southwestern communities, the authors suggest that true empowerment must overcome the prevalent discourse of fear of bilingualism. This article suggests that the present status and identity of Latinos in the Southwestern United States would be enhanced and affirmed by the healthy co-existence of two tongues and two cultural frameworks and that social workers should recognize and advocate for the power of bilingual discourses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-95
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


  • Bilinguality
  • Identity
  • Language suppression
  • Marginalization
  • Power
  • Spanish language
  • U.S. Spanish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education


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