Rancheros in Chicagoacán: Language and Identity in a by Marcia Farr

By Marcia Farr

An ethnolinguistic portrait concentrating on the language and id of transnational ranchero Mexicans.

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Extra resources for Rancheros in Chicagoacán: Language and Identity in a Transnational Community

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A fuller understanding of what people mean by ranchero is illuminated through an exploration of the history of the word itself. Herón Pérez (1994) traces the word rancho to its origins in old northern European languages, specifically the Germanic family. Originally the word hring meant ring or crown, signifying royalty, but it soon came to mean meeting or assembly (a circular assembly of people). Then German Ring moved into French and became harangue, an open conversation, a 35 OF RANCHOS AND RANCHEROS harangue, a sermon, or any discourse.

Cowboys have an equally notable presence in literature as in film, Mexican vaqueros and rancheros are only present in a handful of novels, notably including those by Agustín Yáñez and Juan Rulfo (González 1991, 3). Instead, much Mexican literature emphasizes oppressed, deferential, and primarily Indian peasants, as in the classic novel of the Mexican Revolution, Los de abajo (The Underdogs) (Slatta 1990, 209). Thus there has been less public awareness of vaqueros in Mexico than of cowboys in the United States, a lacuna that is paralleled by a similar lack of recognition of rancheros as a distinct rural population.

The rancheros who are the focus of this book distinguish themselves from other groups, primarily Indian Mexicans, with language ideologies constructed in particular ways of speaking or styles of language use (Hymes 1974b). In Chapters 5 through 8 I analyze verbal performances that occurred in informal conversation in both Chicago and Mexico; these verbal performances represent particular language styles, and language ideologies, that construct ranchero identities vis-à-vis their Others. 7 Defining a speech community as an organized set of diverse speech styles, he argued that such styles, as parts of words and utterances, express social meanings in contradistinction to referential or ‘‘literal’’ meanings.

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