Title

Lexical Variation, Health Literacy, and Gender Segregation: An Elicitation Survey in a Spanish-Speaking Immigrant Community

Subject Area

Afro-Hispanic Studies

Abstract

Immokalee, Florida, is a small agricultural town of primarily Spanish speaking immigrants (US Census, 2018). Despite being a close-knit community, many inhabitants of the town display distinct lexical preferences, especially in medical settings. While locals claim that this difference is due to dialectical diversity or exposure to new dialects, language is complex, and often affected by multiple sociological factors, not least of which are age and gender (Heylighen, Dewaele, 2002). Using a brief demographic survey and elicitation study based on five pictures, 96 subjects were interviewed, and the resulting data was analyzed for trends and statistical significance. Though the acting hypothesis supported the locally held belief that nationality and exposure were the main contributors to lexical variation, collected data proved otherwise.

Rather than support the original hypothesis, data analysis demonstrated a distinct, statistically significant, difference in lexical preferences based on gender. This difference was unexpected, but could be explained by a difference in health literacy. Women tend to be more health literate than men (Clousten et al. 2016), and the data collected in this study supports this trend. Another contributing factor in this lexical variation may be the segregation of male and female workers on local farms, a common practice in the area.

It is hoped that this study will not only shed a light on the need for health literacy education, but also on the unique sociopolitical problems that face newly immigrated men and women from Latin America, and the risks and benefits associated with gender segregation on farms.

Brief Bio Note

Eden Gordon is a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Before beginning graduate school, she graduated from Florida State University, and then worked as a Spanish-English medical interpreter in rural South Florida. Inspired by the variation in her patients’ lexicon, she began the elicitation survey that she is presenting on today.

Keywords

Linguistics, Spanish, Variation, Sociolinguistics, Immigration, Healthcare

Presentation Year

October 2020

Start Date

10-22-2020 1:15 PM

End Date

10-22-2020 1:55 PM

Embargo

11-3-2019

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Oct 22nd, 1:15 PM Oct 22nd, 1:55 PM

Lexical Variation, Health Literacy, and Gender Segregation: An Elicitation Survey in a Spanish-Speaking Immigrant Community

Immokalee, Florida, is a small agricultural town of primarily Spanish speaking immigrants (US Census, 2018). Despite being a close-knit community, many inhabitants of the town display distinct lexical preferences, especially in medical settings. While locals claim that this difference is due to dialectical diversity or exposure to new dialects, language is complex, and often affected by multiple sociological factors, not least of which are age and gender (Heylighen, Dewaele, 2002). Using a brief demographic survey and elicitation study based on five pictures, 96 subjects were interviewed, and the resulting data was analyzed for trends and statistical significance. Though the acting hypothesis supported the locally held belief that nationality and exposure were the main contributors to lexical variation, collected data proved otherwise.

Rather than support the original hypothesis, data analysis demonstrated a distinct, statistically significant, difference in lexical preferences based on gender. This difference was unexpected, but could be explained by a difference in health literacy. Women tend to be more health literate than men (Clousten et al. 2016), and the data collected in this study supports this trend. Another contributing factor in this lexical variation may be the segregation of male and female workers on local farms, a common practice in the area.

It is hoped that this study will not only shed a light on the need for health literacy education, but also on the unique sociopolitical problems that face newly immigrated men and women from Latin America, and the risks and benefits associated with gender segregation on farms.