Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Daniel J. Olson

Committee Member 1

Alejandro Cuza-Blanco

Committee Member 2

Lori A. Czerwionka

Committee Member 3

Colleen A. Neary-Sundquist


The multiculturalism of a modern society involves constant interrelations of minority and dominant linguistic communities, which are reflected in language. Within this context patterns of language use and choice, language attitudes and language and identity connection have received special attention from a sociolinguistic perspective to better understand the outcomes of such language contact

The aim of the present study is to analyze patterns of language use, language choice, and language identity issues of two groups of Cuban immigrants in Russian society: individuals born in Cuba with both parents of Cuban origin (CC group) and individuals born in Cuba from mixed Cuban-Russian families (CR group). This community presents a unique opportunity for investigation due to several factors: (1) a number of key characteristics of the community, i.e. small size of the population, distance from Cuba with the result in the amount of contact with Spanish-speaking monolinguals, (2) the level of ethnolinguistic vitality of the community in the Russian environment, and (3) strong positive cultural-historical background of Soviet-Cuban relations.

In order to better address the aims of this study, three hypotheses were proposed. Firstly, the CC group will indicate higher Spanish language proficiency and more extensive use of Spanish than the CR group. Secondly, both groups will value Spanish as a language for intimate communication - family and friends (high integrative value). Finally, the CC group will express a stronger sense of Cuban identity than the CR group.

To obtain necessary data for the study a mixed method approach was employed. First, quantitative methods, specifically Likert-type scale questions of a sociolinguistic questionnaire, were used to elicit information on language proficiency, integrative and instrumental value of Spanish, as well as language and identity aspects. Second, qualitative methods, drawing on interviews and open-ended survey questions, were used to obtain information on the experience and background attitudes of the subjects, and to highlight quantitative results.

The findings of the study show the positive connection of both groups to the Spanish language, despite the level of ethnolinguistic vitality of the community and absence of the ongoing influx of Cubans to Russia. The results also support the proposed hypotheses and serve as an indicator of overall stronger connections to the Spanish language and Cuban identity among the CC group relative to the gradual process of language and identity shift among the CR group.