Edited by Whitney Chappell
[Issues in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics 21] 2019
► pp. 154–185
Chapter 5. Spanish and Palenquero
Language identification through phonological correspondences
The Afro-Colombian creole language Palenquero, spoken in the village of San Basilio de Palenque, has been in contact with its historical lexifier, Spanish, for several centuries. The lexicons of the two languages are more than 90% cognate, including complete identity (based on the local vernacular variety of Spanish) and predictable phonological modifications resulting from the historical development of Palenquero in contact with Kikongo and other Central African languages, in addition to some less predictable correspondences. Previous research has demonstrated that Palenquero-Spanish bilinguals are influenced by key grammatical items in on-line (real-time) identification of the language of an utterance (all-Spanish, all-Palenquero, or mixed). The present study examines the role of regular Palenquero-Spanish phonotactic correspondences in facilitating language identification by Palenquero-Spanish bilinguals. Three experiments provide data: a single-word language identification task, an on-line rapid language identification task, and an on-line processing task in which participants signal points of transition between Palenquero and Spanish. The results point to a subtle but real role for Palenquero-Spanish phonological predictability in language identification, with enhanced importance for young L2 Palenquero speakers. More generally, the observations are relevant to other revitalization efforts that involve a minority language substantially cognate with the dominant language. The data from L2 Palenquero speakers suggest that sociophonetic awareness can aid in bootstrapping emergent grammatical competence in the minority language.