Elaine Shenk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Office: Bellarmine 330 A
Phone: 610-660-1849
Fax: 610-660-2160
Email: eshenk@sju.edu

Currently, Dr. Shenk's research focuses on language contact and the sociolinguistic phenomena that occur in settings where two or more languages intersect. As a sociolinguist, she is interested in both the linguistic features of contact settings (phonetic, morphological, lexical, syntactic, or pragmatic features) as well as in the broader social phenomena (i.e., symbolic values, ideologies, and language policy and planning) associated with that contact. Her recent research has focused on the perspectives and ideologies present in personal, public sphere and legislative discourse related to language varieties and language officialization in both Puerto Rico and the United States.


Ph.D., Spanish (Linguistics) – University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (2007)
M.A., Spanish (Linguistics) – University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (2000)
B.A., Liberal Arts (Spanish/TESL/Socioeconomic Development) – Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA (1994)  

Courses Taught

Dr. Shenk teaches in three different programs: Spanish, Linguistics, and Latin American Studies. This includes courses on Spanish Conversation and Spanish Composition (SPA 301/302), Spanish in the Community (service-learning SPA 360) Introduction to Spanish Linguistics (SPA 380), Spanish Dialectology (SPA 466), and Language Contact and Politics in the U.S. (SPA 467). She also teaches a First-Year Seminar on Language, Communication, and Culture (LIN 150), Sociolinguistics (LIN 317), Phonetics (LIN 320), and Bilingualism and Language Diversity (LIN 401).


  • Forthcoming (2014). Teaching Sociolinguistic Variation in the Intermediate Language Classroom: El voseo in Latin America, in the journal Hispania, expected in volume 97.3.
  • 2013. H.R. 2499 Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010: Language Policy and the Burton Amendment, in the Journal of Language and Politics, 12(4): 583-605.
  • 2012. Puerto Rico’s language officialization debates: Perspectives from a mountain corridor community. CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies 24(1): 90-119.
  • 2011. Instrumental, Integrative, and Intrinsic: A Self-Determination Framework for Orientations Towards Language in a Puerto Rican Community. The Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics 14(1): 155-176.
  • 2011. Constructing Perspectives on Language Diversity in the U.S. Midwest. Spanish in Context 8(1): 144-168.
  • 2011. Language officialization in Puerto Rico: Group-making discourses of protectionism and receptivity. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies 8(2): 176-202.
  • 2008. Choosing Spanish: Dual Language Immersion and Familial Ideologies. In Bilingualism and Linguistic Identity, ed. by Mercedes Niño-Murcia and Jason Rothman, 221-256. Philadelphia: Benjamins.
  • 2003. Characteristics of a Diglossic Society: An Ethnolinguistic Case Study of Three Communities in Guatemala. In Theory, Practice, and Acquisition: Papers from the 6th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium and the 5th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese, ed. by Paula Kempchinsky and Carlos-Eduardo Piñeros, 227-238. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.


Her teaching and research interests include:

  • Sociolinguistics
  • Spanish in the U.S.
  • Language Contact
  • Language Ideologies
  • Bilingualism
  • Language Policy/Language Planning