Raleigh, NC

About the Site

Over the past ten to fifteen years, North Carolina has witnessed dramatic growth in its Hispanic/Latino population, a fact that comes as a surprise to many who never associated the Mid-Atlantic South with the type of immigration from Mexico and Central America typically associated with the West and Southwest regions of the U.S. Though the largest Hispanic/Latino populations remain in those regions, North Carolina witnessed the most rapid Hispanic growth in the United States between 1990 and 2000 with an increase of 397% in that ten year span. The total Hispanic population in North Carolina in 1990 was just under 78,000 (1.2%) but jumped to nearly 379,000 (4.7%) in 2000. Mexican-Americans, including Mexican immigrants, are the largest Hispanic group in North Carolina, comprising 65% of the Hispanic population and 3.1% of the total NC population.

Though much of the recent growth is concentrated in rural areas where people have come to find work in North Carolina’s vast agricultural industries, urban areas have likewise seen increases in their respective Hispanic populations. Census data from 1990 shows that in the capital city of Raleigh, Hispanics comprised just 1.2% of the population or 2,500 out of a total population of over 200,000. Census data from 2000 shows a much different demographic profile of Raleigh, as the Hispanic population has grown to nearly 20,000 and comprises 6.9% of the total population of over 275,000.

The proliferation of Spanish language media and Hispanic businesses provides further evidence for the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in North Carolina. In 1990, North Carolina had no Spanish language weekly periodical, no Spanish language radio station, and no local affiliation with any Spanish language television network. Today, North Carolina has three major Spanish language weekly periodicals, three Spanish language radio stations, and one local affiliate for a national Spanish language television network. Additionally, a full time Mexican Consulate opened in Raleigh in 2001 to serve the state’s growing Mexican population.

For several years, the NCLLP has been investigating the emerging variety of English spoken by Hispanics in an exclusively Hispanic community in the capital city of Raleigh. This field site is unique as it allows linguists from North Carolina State University to witness firsthand dialect formation in progress, resulting from a new language contact situation. The Raleigh site is also unique in that speech data is being collected in both English and Spanish, oftentimes from the same bilingual speaker. This corpus provides linguists the opportunity to examine aspects of dialect accommodation and also provides fertile ground for cross-linguistic analyses. The NCLLP has taken advantage of this unique linguistic situation by investigating largely understudied prosodic features of English and Spanish, as well as syntactic and phonological segmental features.


Carter, Phillip. The Emergence of Hispanic English in the Raleigh Community: A Sociophonetic Analysis. Master's Thesis. NC State University.

Forrest, Jon. 2015. Community Rules and Speaker Behavior: Individual Adherence to Group Constraints on (ING). Language Variation and Change 27(03), 377-406.