Modern and Classical Languages
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Sonia Balasch

Sonia Balasch

Sonia Balasch

Assistant Professor

Language variation both in monolingual contexts and in contact settings; language change in contemporary Spanish and in its diachronic evolution; and the social dimension of linguistic structures, principally those of a syntactic nature.

I am a Term Assistant Professor who holds a Ph.D. in Spanish with a specialization in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM). My background in mathematics (BS in applied mathematics from Universidad Metropolitana, Venezuela) has enabled me to understand and successfully apply quantitative analysis techniques used in corpora-based sociolinguistic research.

I am passionate about both teaching Spanish and conducting research on sociolinguistics. My goal is to show that the use of language occurring in its social context is a beautiful, powerful and valuable social tool. In addition, I make great efforts to create and recreate a variety of classroom activities to help make the study of Spanish and its diverse and complex cultures accessible and appealing to students.


Selected Publications

2015. “Comparing variables in different corpora with context-based model-free variant probabilities.” Sankoff, David; Natalie Dion, Alex Brandts, Mayer Alvo, Sonia Balasch, and Jackie Adams. In Linguistic Variation. Confronting Fact and Theory. Rena Torres Cacoullos, Nathalie Dion and André Lapierre (eds.). 335-345. New York, NY: Routledge. 

2014. “Spanish variable direct object marking: dealing with dependence among linguistic and social factors.” Journal of Research Design and Statistics in Linguistics and Communication Science. 27-46.

2012. “Revisión amplia de la variación deber (de) + infinitivo en la diacronía del español.” In Montero Cartelle, Emilio and Manzano Rovira, Carmen (eds.). Actas del VIII Congreso Internacional de Historia de la Lengua Española. 607-620. Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

2011. "Factors determining Spanish Differential Object Marking within its domain of variation.” In Selected Proceedings of the 5thInternational Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics. 113-124. Jim Michnowicz and Robin Dodsworth (eds.). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. 

2010. “La a de acusativo en el español contemporáneo: ¿un marcador de relevancia?.” In Rosa María Ortiz Ciscomani (ed.). Estudios lingüísticos: enfoques sincrónicos, diacrónicos e interdisciplinarios Vol. 2. 37-69. . Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico: Universidad de Sonora.

2008. “Debe (de) ser: evolución de la variación.” In Maurice Westmoreland and Juan Antonio Thomas (eds.). Selected Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics. 109-119. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. Reprinted in 2011 in Nogueira, Márcia T. & Lopez, Maria Fabiola V. (eds.). Modo e modalidade: Gramática, discurso e interação. 239-263. Fortaleza, Brazil. Edições UFC.

2008. “La conectividad discursiva en el discurso interactivo.” In Joyce Bruhn de Garavito and Elena Valenzuela (eds.). Selected Proceedings of the 2006 Hispanic Linguistics Symposium. 300-311. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla  Proceedings Project. 

Grants and Fellowships

2016 (with Dr. Alexía D. Vikis, Dr. Lisa M. Rabin and Dr. Colleen A. Sweet) Course Redesign: Using Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant. Mason 4-VA in collaboration with the University Libraries and Mason Online. $4000. George Mason University. Fairfax, VA. 

Courses Taught

I have taught undergraduate Spanish language, culture and content courses at all levels. These include Spanish for Heritage speakers, Hispanic Linguistics, Spanish Applied Linguistics (University of Montana, Missoula, MT),1 Spanish Phonetics and Phonology, Advanced Composition and Conversation (UM), Language and Society in Latin America (Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA), Hispanic American Culture (University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM), and Intermediate Spanish. I have taught this last course both online and as a face-to-face course.

1 University of Montana.

Recent Presentations

2017. Hey! Tell me about tu gente! Starting a Latino Cross Country Discussion between Spanish Heritage learners from two US universities.” 4th Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language. University of California-Irvine. February 16-18, 2017. Co-presented with Dr. José E. Hernández and Yanina Hernández (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). 

2016. La lengua usada en el hogar y el perfil lingüístico del habla de niños bilingües (español e inglés) en los Estados Unidos. Co-presented with Dr. Jenny Dumont. 8th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics to be held at the University of Puerto Rico. April 13 -16, 2016.   

2015. Spanish corpora in the classroom: A rich source of teaching materials. Conference of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA). Williamsburg, VA. September 24-26. Co-presented with Dineo Moja.

2014. Bondades de integrar la literatura en el estudio de los usos del pretérito y el imperfecto desde una visión funcionalista: una propuesta de enseñanza 'Benefits of taking in consideration literary works in the study of the uses of preterit and imperfect from a functionalist perspective: a teaching proposal'. Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Languages (GWATFL).  Washington, DC. November 8, 2014.

2014. Recorrido diacrónico de poner(se) + adjetivo en el español de los siglos XVII-IX ‘Diachronic path of poner(se) + adjective in the Spanish of 17-19 century. 7th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics. University of Wisconsin.

2013. La marca diferencial de objeto en español en contacto con inglés y en español exento de este ‘Differential Object Marking in Spanish in contact with English and in Monolingual Spanish’. 24th Conference on Spanish in the United States and 9th Conference on Spanish in Contact with Other Languages. McAllen, Texas.

2012 The structural integrity of direct object marking in the Spanish of New Mexican bilinguals. 41st International Conference of New Ways of Analyzing Variation Indiana University. October 25-28, 2012. 

2012. The interplay of speaker’s age and occupation in the variable use of a + direct object in contemporary Spanish. 6th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics. Department of Spanish and Portuguese. University of Arizona. 

2010. Factors determining Spanish Differential Marking within its domain of variation.5th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics. North Carolina State University.