Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles

Volume 11 (2021)

Substrate influences in highland Spanish varieties of South America: Afro-Yungueño and Antioqueño from a comparative perspective

Luana Lamberti (Florida International University) & Eliot Raynor (Princeton University, Indiana University)

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The absence of research into the influence of West African and lesser-studied Amerindian languages on contemporary Spanish varieties in highland regions of South America is a significant yet unexpected gap in knowledge, given the well-developed fields of dialectology, sociolinguistics, and language contact in Latin America as a whole. In this paper, we focus on contact features from Afro-Yungueño Spanish, spoken in the highlands of Bolivia, and Antioqueño Spanish, spoken across a vast region in the northwestern highlands of Colombia. The former language variety combines different semantic encodings in the multifunctional locative markers, en, a, and zero marking (examples 1-3 from Sessarego 2010 and Perez 2015). By adopting an integrated approach in which we analyze the contact situation through the lens of sociohistorically-motivated second language acquistion, we argue that speakers used the locative marking structural patterns from their L1s (Bantu languages) and imposed them on the newly created Spanish that emerged from contact.

(1)         Por lo meno   en       Cochabamba   yo    he     analizado  que    muy   caro               

   at        least      LOC  Cochabamba   I      had   analyzed   that    very  expensive

           todo             yo   extrañaba mucho.

           everything I      missed       a-lot.

   'At least in Cochabamba I had analyzed that everything is very expensive, I miss it a lot.'

(2)         Mi   hijo     vive   a            Mururata.

        my   son     lives   LOC  Mururata

      ‘My son lives in Mururata.'  

(3)         Mi   tata   cun   mi   mama   nació   Ø          Mururata.

           my   dad  and   my   mom    born    LOC   Mururata

   ‘My dad and my mom were born in Murarata.'

In the case of Antioqueño Spanish, spoken across a vast region in the northwestern highlands of Colombia, we provide a sociohistorical sketch that supports the hypothesis that speakers of Amerindian (Embera) and West African (Kikongo, Caboverdianu, Kiriol) languages, each with congruous patterns of ‘hand + arm’ and ‘foot + leg’ reference, contributed to the innovative semantics in (4)-(5), below, demonstrating the ambiguous use of mano ‘hand’ to refer to any part of the upper limbs and the same for pie ‘foot’ in reference to the lower limbs. This phenomenon is typical in casual speech throughout Antioquia, including Medellín, from which the below examples were extracted (PRESEEA 2014).

(4)         No       podía  mover la-s     manos   porque    me                quebré    por acá.

                NEG  could   move the      hands    because   REFL.1SG  broke      around here

           ‘I couldn’t move my hands/arms because I broke (something) around here.’

(5)         Se          me                 partió    la   carne  de-l        pie   izquierdo   a-l       lado  de

   REFL  DAT.1SG  opened the flesh   of-the  foot  left                to-the  side   of

   la       rodilla.

   the       knee

               ‘The skin of my left foot/leg was cut open on the side of my knee.’

We adopt an integrated approach, in which we consider micro-linguistic (Odlin 1989; Winford 2003; Matras & Sakel 2007; Baptista 2020) and macro-social (Mintz 1971; Winford 2020) factors to analyze the contact situations that shaped these language varieties. Our findings suggest remarkable structural and typological parallels between Afro-Yungueño and Antioqueño and their respective substrate languages with regard to the linguistic phenomena studied here. Our main contribution lies in our claim that Niger-Congo and Ameridian speakers were positioned subjects whose actions were sociohistorically constrained (Sicoli 2011). They most likely did not instantly shift to Spanish once they were trafficked, enslaved, and/or forced into labor in Bolivia and Colombia. We argue that this was likely a gradual process that ultimately led these speakers and their descendants to shift to a new Spanish variety that was highly impacted by contact.

Keywords: Language contact, sociohistorically-motivated SLA, Afrodescendent communities