Demographic data indicate that the English of Mexican Americans is destined to play a key role in the sociolinguistic study of language variation in the United States. In fact, Mexican American speakers are reported to account for more than 12.5% of the U.S. population. In 2003, the U.S. Census released data showing that Latinos and Latinas had replaced African Americans as the largest minority ethnic group in the U.S., and by 2007, 29.2 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009). Moreover, in addition to the large numbers of Mexicans (first generation) and Mexican Americans (second generation) living in the Southwest, we are now seeing a new representation of these ethnic groups in other areas, such as the South. For example, between 1990 and 2000, North Carolina experienced a higher percentage of growth in its Mexican American population than any other state (Wolfram, Carter & Moriello, 2004).
These statistics are important with respect to language because they reveal that a large and increasing population of English speakers in the U.S. are Latinos and Latinas of Mexican origin. Our notion of American English, then, must be extended to include the variety traditionally spoken by the children of Mexican immigrants in the U.S., generally referred to in the literature as Chicano English. In addition, if we look at the Mexican American population as a whole, we will find a number of other varieties of English spoken.