Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award


Faculty Advisor

Robert A. Troyer


Language is an integral part of our day-to-day lives; it is the way we express ourselves, the way we relate to others, and the way we meet our basic needs. However, for speakers of nonstandard dialects of English in America, language can be complicated. Many American students who fall into this category are taught, explicitly or implicitly, from a very young age, that the way they speak is different, wrong, and should be changed. With the growing number of Hispanic Americans currently in the United States, there is a nonstandard dialect which is becoming increasingly relevant: Chicano English. However, there seems to be a gap between the number of speakers of Chicano English in America, and the frequency with which this dialect is represented in literature, specifically within children’s literature. Following the recommendations of several online sources and academic experts, more than 50 children’s books that reportedly contained representations of nonstandard dialects were selected as a representative sample for initial screening. This preliminary analysis revealed that only twelve of the books actually contained representations of nonstandard dialects. Subsequent detailed analysis determined which nonstandard dialects including Chicano English were represented in this sample of children’s literature as well as the frequency with which these dialects were present. The results showed that no representations of Chicano English were found in the children’s books that were studied; however, the dialect was present in some young adult literature which was added to the analysis for comparison. The implication is that the Chicano English dialect may be considered less established and/or less prestigious than other nonstandard dialects of American English. The research and analysis, outlined below, show evidence of this, as well as potential explanations for this gap between the number of speakers of this dialect, and the lack of its representation in children’s literature.