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Many Hispanics Nurture Identity, Survey Shows

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An estimated 50 percent of Hispanic Americans think of themselves as Hispanic first and American second, and more than eight out of 10 say the Spanish language is "the key to maintaining and fostering their cultural identity," according to Spanish USA 1984, a new study by the polling firm of Yankelovich, Skelly & White Inc.

The firm conducted the survey of the Hispanic "market" for the sin Television Network, a Spanish-language television network with 276 affiliates.

"From 1981 to 1984, there is no sign of increased commitment to mastery of English, at the possible expense of Spanish; the commitment to Spanish is stronger if anything," says the firm's analysis of the findings. "Current language skills aside for the moment, bilingualism is the predominant goal--about three out of four seeing mastery of both English and Spanish as the ideal. Fluency in Spanish supersedes fluency in English as a goal, 20 percent to 6 percent."

The study found that there has been a significant increase since 1981 in the desire of Hispanic citizens to perpetuate Hispanic traditions in succeeding generations--from 89 percent in 1981 to 94 percent in 1984.

The study, which was based on interviews with 775 Hispanic Americans between the fall of 1983 and the spring of 1984, also found a "distinct blurring of differences in the way Hispanics of varying nationalities feel about each other." In 1981, 61 percent of Hispanics perceived important differences between Hispan-ic nationalities. In 1984, that figure had fallen to 50 percent.

The study also found that although the percentage of Hispanics who are college graduates has more than doubled since 1981, the percentage of those with one to three years of high school has declined, and there is little change in the percentage of high-school graduates.

The study also included information on the demographic characteristics of Hispanic Americans, Hispanics as consumers, and social values and cultural commitments among Hispanics.

Free copies of the report are available by writing or calling Mirta Cybulski, sin Television Network, 460 West 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10036; (212) 502-1300.--lo

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