How ‘Portuguese’ are Palenquero and Chabacano really?
A long-lasting debate within creole studies concerns the scarcity of Spanish-based creoles and the theoretical implications this may have. However, there is no agreement as to how many genuinely Spanish-based creoles there are in the world, and identifying the size of that group can generate controversies. Papiamentu, for instance, is canonically classified as a Spanish-based creole, even though most scholars at present seem to agree its origins are Creole Portuguese. A Portuguese lineage has on various occasions and by various authors also been claimed for Chabacano (Philippine Creole Spanish) and Palenquero (spoken in Colombia). These creoles, too, were supposedly once Portuguese-based, only to subsequently be ‘relexified’ towards Spanish. This paper argues that there is little linguistic basis for that claim. Although both creoles do indeed seem to have received some Portuguese (Creole) input, we maintain that this input was limited and substratal in nature, and thus has no bearing on the classification (whether diachronic or synchronic) of the two creoles as truly Spanish-based.