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Donald TutenAssociate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics


Dr. Tuten was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, where he attended Herschel V. Jenkins High School. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Spanish/French from the University of Georgia in 1985. He received his M.A. in Spanish in 1989 and Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics in 1998, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has worked at Emory since 1996, where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and in the Program in Linguistics. His research in historical sociolinguistics focuses on questions of language change in Spanish and other Romance languages, with particular attention to how social, cultural and political factors interact with cognitive factors and linguistic structures to influence linguistic and social change.

His book Koineization in Medieval Spanish (2003, Mouton de Gruyter) examined the effects of dialect mixing on the history of medieval Castilian, during which many of the key features of the modern language developed. Dr. Tuten continues to study dialect contact and mixing, but he has become increasingly interested in how cultural factors influence the outcomes of dialect/language contact and mixing. He is now at work on a new book project tentatively titled Pronoun Anxiety: Changing Patterns of Address in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish. In this project, he is exploring how increasing demographic/social mobility and changes in social and political ideology affected --and to some extent were affected by-- use and development of Spanish address forms. Dr. Tuten has also explored other aspects of the medieval development of Spanish, including the scribal practices which shaped and were shaped by the growing conceptual distinction between Latin and (Castilian) Romance, as well as the nature and limits of standardization of the medieval language.

Dr. Tuten also has a long-standing interest in applied linguistics, including the teaching of Hispanic linguistics and the teaching of Spanish language and Spanish-language societies/cultures. He was principal author of five editions of the intermediate Spanish language and Hispanic/Latin American cultures textbook Fuentes: Lectura y redacción (1996-2015, first published by Houghton Mifflin and later by Cengage/Heinle; co-authored with Lucía Caycedo Garner and Carmelo Esterrich). Dr. Tuten has also co-written (with Fernando Tejedo-Herrero, Rajiv Rao, and Robyn Clarke) a manual of Spanish phonetics, Pronunciaciones del español/Pronunciations of Spanish, which foregrounds pragmatic, stylistic and social variation in the pronunciation of Spanish.

His undergraduate Spanish courses include “Phonetics: The Sounds of Spanish” (Span/Ling 303) as well as advanced (400-level) seminars: “Hispanic Sociolinguistics”, “History of Spanish”, “The Politics of Spanish”, and “Dueling Tongues: Language, Identity & Politics in Spain” (taught during the annual Summer Iberian Studies Study Abroad Program, held in Seville and Salamanca, with autonomous group research trips to Galicia, the Basque Country, and Catalonia). In the Program in Linguistics, he teaches the introductory course “Foundations of Linguistics” (Ling 201), “Historical Linguistics & Language Change” (Ling 328), and “Language, Politeness, and Power” (Ling 340).

As an active member of the faculty of Emory’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Hispanic Studies, Dr. Tuten has taught or co-taught graduate seminars on a range of topics: “Political History of Spanish”, “Ideology and Normativity in Spanish”, “Pedagogy of Language and Culture”, as well as several versions of “Understanding Hispanic Studies” (including most recently a course on “Spanish as a Historical Problem”, co-taught via Zoom with Professor José del Valle and his students of the CUNY Graduate Center).

Previously, Dr. Tuten has served in a number of administrative roles at Emory: Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese (2015-2018), Director of the Program in Linguistics (2005-2011), and Director of the Spanish Language Program (1996-2009). Beyond Emory, he has participated actively in the founding and organization of NARNiHS, the North American Research Network in Historical Sociolinguistics, which is now a sister society of the Linguistic Society of America.

Recent Publications

Tuten, Donald. N. 2024. Emergencia de nuevas variedades: koineización y criollización / Emergence of new varieties: Koineization and creolization. In Steven Dworkin, Gloria Clavería Nadal, and Álvaro Octavio de Toledo y Huerta (eds.), Lingüística histórica del español / The Routledge Handbook of Spanish Historical Linguistics, 123–133. Abingdon: Routledge.

Torrens Alvarez, María Jesús, and Donald N. Tuten. 2022. From “Latin” to the vernacular:  Latin-Romance hybridity, scribal competence, and social transformation in medieval Castile. Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies97: 698–736. 

Tuten, Donald N., Fernando Tejedo-Herrero, Rajiv Rao, and H. Robyn Clarke. 2022. Pronunciaciones del español/Pronunciations of Spanish. Abingdon: Routledge.

Tuten, Donald N. 2021. Complexification of the early modern Spanish address system: A role for koineization? In Bridget Drinka and Whitney Chappell (eds.), Spanish Socio-Historical Linguistics: Isolation and Contact, 18–47. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Tuten, Donald N. 2021. [Selection and critical commentary on] Fragmentos (1255-1280) de Espéculo, Estoria de España, General estoria y Libro de la ochava esfera de Alfonso X. In José del Valle, Daniela Lauria, Mariela Oroño y Darío Rojas (eds.), Autorretrato de un idioma: crestomatía glotopolítica del español, 25–35. Madrid: Lengua de Trapo.

Scholarly Interests

Historical sociolinguistics:

language change, dialect/language contact, standardization, language ideologies and politics

Sociocultural and political history of Spanish

Spanish and Romance linguistics