Center of Mexican American Studies
Center of Mexican American Studies

Juan J. Colomina-Almiñana

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain)

Juan J. Colomina-Almiñana



Philosophy of Language; Linguistic Anthropology; Bilingualism; Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness; Cognition: Intensional and Inductive Logic; Philosophy of Science; Metaphysics (specially Time); Points of View and Perspectivism; and Carnap’s and Russell’s Legacies.


Juan J. Colomina received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain) in 2009. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS), and an affiliate of the Department of Philosophy. His books include Los problemas de las teorías representacionales de la conciencia (Tenerife: Universidad de La Laguna, 2010) and Implicaciones de la teoría de los actos de habla (Madrid: EAE, 2011), and he has coedited (with V. Raga) La filosofía de Richard Rorty (Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2010.)
 He has also published more than fifty articles in several collected books and international journals. His research areas of interest focus on the boundaries between Semantics and Pragmatics, Philosophy of Language, Linguistic Anthropology, Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness, Philosophy of Science, and Logic. In 2012, he received the Young Researcher Award from the Spanish Society of Logic. He is a member of the Research Group for Logic, Language, Epistemology, Mind, and Action (LEMA) at the University of La Laguna in Spain, whose main project is “Points of View and Temporal Structures” (FII2011-24549).

Professor Colomina-Almiñana is PI of the IUPLR Linguistics and Latina/o Speech Communities Working Group.


MAS 309 • Bilingualism In The Americas

35967 • Fall 2016
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 302

FLAGS:   Wr  | CD  |  GC

MAS 392 • Semantics Racial Epithet/Pejor

36090 • Fall 2016
Meets M 300pm-600pm GWB 1.138
(also listed as PHL 391)


Students need to understand the implications of ordinary language usage. When we use words, they carry intentions and material outcomes. Words can have positive and negative consequences, and occasional embedded derogatory implications. The word choices we make come from how we access the world from a point of view. This course focuses on the implications of ordinary language usage in pejoratives such as epithets, slurs, and insults. It also provides a historical and cultural approach to where, when, how and why pejoratives become normalized in cultural practices.

The course brings something entirely different to the Ethnic Studies conversation by using the methods of Analytic Philosophy and Linguistics to account for everyday conflicts in society. Recent scholarship focuses on the meaning of pejoratives, the class takes as its baseline the idea that pejorative words include swear words (the kind of words use to perjure, such as “damn”, “oops”, and “fuck”), insults (such as “bastard”, “dick”, and “idiot”), and slurring words, especially those words known as racial epithets used to catalog individuals or groups of people under some kind of negative stereotype based on race (such as “nigger”, “greaser”, and “currymanger”), immigrant status (such as “wetback”) or nationality (“pocho”), but also other words that highlight in a bigoted way some particular characteristic of the target, as those including gender (“bitch”), sexual condition (“faggot”), religion (“kike”), and physical aspect (“fat-ass”)). A pejorative seems, then, to be the kind of word used to disparage its target. In other words, pejoratives allow speakers to express some particular derogatory attitude to the target through some linguistic property of the world as negative.

Although people agree that the use of pejoratives carries offensive content, there is a linguistic puzzle yet to be solved about the content of pejoratives. Although pejoratives seem to be semantically unified words, it is the controversial way that their content can be used that causes disagreement. Since occurrences are truth-conditionally analyzable, some scholars argue that pejoratives linguistically display negative content. Nonetheless, they disagree on the way the content is implemented. Others advocate for a nonsemantic account: given that the content of pejoratives lack truth-conditions that are neither true nor false but still represent the world in a certain way. Even others claim that it does not matter how pejoratives function or how they are conceived, they still lack of truth-conditions. Because of their contemptible content, pejoratives are prohibited words, and scholars argue that the only possible approach to them is a silencing strategy, literally not using them. But people still do.

This linguistic content of the class focuses on the different ways that scholars have approached slurs, insults, pejoratives, and epithets as well as the question of the point of view from which to access the world. We will analyze some of the most representative accounts to the semantic of pejoratives, both in truth-conditional and non- truth-conditional ways.



Graduate standing.


Grading System

40% Participation

60% Final Research Paper



- Anderson, L. and Lepore, E. (2013). Slurring Words. Noûs 47(1):2548.

- Himma, K.E. (2002). On the Definition of Unconscionable Racial and Sexual Slurs. Journal of Social Philosophy 33(3):512522.

- Hom, C. (2008). The Semantics of Racial Epithets. The Journal of Philosophy 105(5):416440.

- Hom, C. (2010). Pejoratives. Philosophy Compass 5(2):164185.

- Hom, C. (2012). A Puzzle about Pejoratives. Philosophical Studies 159(3):383405.

- Hornsby, J. (2001). Meaning and Uselessness. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 25:12841.

- Potts, C. (2007). The Expressive Dimension. Theoretical Linguistics 33(1):165198.

- Richard, M. (2008), When Truth Gives Out. Oxford: Oxford U. Press, Chapter1.

- Roth Gordon, J. (2011). Discipline and Disorder in the Whiteness of Mock Spanish. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 21(2):211229.

- Schlenker, P. (2007). Expressive Presuppositions. Theoretical Linguistics 33(2):237245.

- Williamson, T. (2009). Reference, Inference, and the Semantics of Pejoratives. In The  Philosophy of D. Kaplan, edited by J. Almog and P. Leonardi, 137-158. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

- Whiting, D. (2013). It’s Not What You Said, It’s the Way You Said It. Analytic Philosophy. Forthcoming.

MAS 309 • Bilingualism In The Americas

35090 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm MEZ 2.124
(also listed as LIN 312)

FLAGS:   Wr  |  CD  |  GC


Bilingualism is a complex phenomenon that refers to the capacity to speak and communicate indistinctly in two or more different languages. Then, it is not a semantic feature of the natural language; it is a pragmatic characteristic of its use. Since language is a property of groups of speakers, bilingualism is a skill showed and belonging to certain individuals. Because of the nature of our contemporary society, this phenomenon is a lived reality for a number of individuals in several communities inside and outside the US. This is to say, the fact that several communities in the Américas conserve a native language besides the official one extends between the members of these communities the knowledge and use of different ways to communicate.

The main purpose of this course is to analyze the linguistic, cognitive, social, and cultural aspects of this complex phenomenon. To do so, the course supposes that the main characteristics of the (different variables of the different) languages are independent of the origin of these communities. The course will primarily focus on the relationship that is established between English (as the vernacular language) and the second co-existent language, especially the binomial with Spanish (approximately 70% of course material) and other common US bilingual language experiences as well. The idea is to analyze the bilingual speaker in context within the community to which she belongs, especially relating to Mexican American and US-Latino communities.


Multiple Voices. An Introduction to Bilingualism, by Carol Myers-Scotton (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006). Additional texts will be available on the Blackboard.          


25% Final Paper

25% Two Short Essays (12.5% each)

10% Peer-Review Sessions

10% Oral Presentation

30% Attendance and Participation

(5% additional extra-credit short essay)

MAS 374 • Mistranslating Latinos

35163 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GWB 1.130
(also listed as LIN 373, PHL 354, SPC 320C)

This course is oriented around the problem of translation (literary, cultural, political, sociolinguistic) as it relates to the cultural production and/or language use arising in Latina/o communities. Depending upon the expertise of the individual instructor, the course might address translation from different angles: issues of linguistic or cultural relativism, complications of literary translations, the mistranslations that ensue when translating cultural texts from one medium to another (the stage to the screen or the page to the stage, for instance).

MAS 374 • Socioling:mex Amer/Lat Studies

35464 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GWB 1.130

Description: "Sociolinguistics  for MALS Majors" examines the presence and use of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and other "indigenous" languages in the US, focusing particularly on those aspects that characterize Latina/o communities, such as language acquisition; language maintenance, change, and loss; language contact phenomena such as code-switching  or lexical borrowing; linguistic identity and ideology, linguistic attitudes, and the interaction between language, gender, race, ethnicity, and social class.

Students will explore the different linguistics aspects that help shaping identity, identify and illustrate historical developments relevant to the presence of Latina/o populations in the US, discuss the diversity of US Latina/o communities and its linguistics implications,  and explain and analyze important language policy challenges posed by the presence of other language­ speaking communities in the US (mainly those involving Hispanic and Latina/o populations). Students will also have the option to complete written assignments in Spanish, since instructor is Spanish and Catalan native speaker (plus also speaks other 6 languages).

Therefore, this is not only a course about language but also about the Latina/o populations that speak those languages.

Texts/Readings:The Handbook of Hispanic Sociolinguistics, edited by M. Diaz-Campos  (specially Part V, which analyzes Spanish in US Latino communities); The handbook of Hispanic Linguistics, edited by J.l. Hualde, A. Olarrea, and E. O'Rourke, Wiley, 2012 (specially Parts 3 and 4, which analyze aspects of US Spanish); "Fighting words: Latina girls, gangs, and Language Attitudes," by Norma Mendoza-Denton, in Speaking Chicana, edited by L. Galindo, University of Arizona Press, 1999.

Grading: 25% Final exam; 25% Final research paper; 25% Short review essays; 25% A&P

MAS 319 • Bilingualism In The Americas

36395 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 3.116

Please check back for updates.

MAS 392 • Semantics Racial Epithet/Pejor

36747 • Spring 2014
Meets M 400pm-700pm PAR 214

Please check back for updates.

MAS 319 • Bilingualism In The Americas

36473 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 3.116

Please check back for updates.

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