Language Contribution to the Perception of Self-Identity of Mexican-American Women

Brooke Steffany Sandoval, Minnesota State University Moorhead


This study researched how language contributes to the perception of self-identity of Mexican-American women. There were 4 Mexican-American participants who were all women, ages 18 to 30, and born in or living in the United States for at least 5 years. Each participant, separately, took part in a semi-structured, audio-recorded interview in English for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Approximately 2 weeks later participants were interviewed in Spanish at their home with similar questions for 30 minutes to 1 hour. An artifact collection was also done in the participants’ home space by taking photographs of significant decor. Finally, the participants were debriefed and all interview data transcribed. This study found language was a key factor in determining the ethnic identity of the participants in this study, nevertheless other influences were found: who one is with, where one is, and where one grew up. Ethnic self-identity is defined in different ways by each individual.