Elaine Shenk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Specialization: Spanish; Sociolinguistics
Office: Bellarmine 305
Phone: 610-660-1849
Fax: 610-660-2160
Email: eshenk@sju.edu

Elaine Shenk researches the sociolinguistic phenomena that occur in settings of langage contact, which include specific linguistic features as well as broader social issues such as the symbolic values and ideologies associated with that contact. Recent research focuses on varying ideologies related to language varieties and language officialization in both Puerto Rico and the United States in public sphere and legislative discourse.


  • B.A, Eastern Mennonite University (Liberal Arts)
  • M.A., University of New Mexico (Spanish - Linguistics)
  • Ph.D., University of Iowa (Spanish - Linguistics)

Courses Taught


  • First-Year Spanish
  • Intermediate Spanish
  • Spanish Conversation
  • Spanish Composition
  • Spanish in the Community (service-learning)
  • Introduction to Spanish Linguistics
  • Spanish Dialectology
  • Language Contact and Politics in the U.S.


  • Language, Communication, and Culture (FYS)
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Bilingualism and Language Diversity


2015. Puerto Rico and the United States: The inclusion and evolution of language policy in U.S. Congressional bills, 1989-2010. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 71. 105-121.

2015. El engañol y el cuco: Metaphors in the nexus between language and status in Puerto Rico. Journal of Language and Intercultural Communication 15(3). 324-340.

2014. Co-authored with A. Dauphiais Civitelo. Qué revolú: The ¡Atrévete y dilo! campaign and language legitimation in Puerto Rico. In Readings in Language Studies, vol. 4, ed. by P. Chamness Miller, J. Watzke, and M. Mantero, 59-81. Grandville, MI: International Society for Language Studies.

2014. Teaching Sociolinguistic Variation in the Intermediate Language Classroom: El voseo in Latin America. Hispania 97(3). 368-381.

2013. H.R. 2499 Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2010: Language Policy and the Burton Amendment. 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 M. Niño-Murcia and J. 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 P. Kempchinsky and C.E. Piñeros, 227-238. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla.


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

Mentions in SJU Magazine

Profile featured in SJU Magazine, Fall 2014 issue