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The Use of Past Tenses in the Spanish of Lima: Variation in a Situation of Contact
Deyanira Rojas-Sosa
265-275 (complete paper or proceedings contents)

Abstract

During the last sixty years the population of Lima has shifted as a consequence of migration from the provinces of Peru; the population of Lima grew from approximately 600,000 inhabitants in 1940 to 6.5 million in the early 1990s. Migration to Lima has affected the linguistic situation of the city as the dialect of many of the new inhabitants, Andean Spanish, has come into direct contact with Limeño Spanish, a variety of coastal Spanish. Many characteristics of Andean Spanish are salient to the native population of Lima and differ in several ways from the more prestigious coastal Limeño dialect. In the case of the verbal system, Andean Spanish differs from that of coastal Spanish, due to the influence of Quechua (Klee and Ocampo, 1995; Escobar 1997; Mendoza, 1991). Specifically, the present perfect, rather than the preterite or historical present, is used to express perfective aspect in the complicating action of narratives. Additionally, the evidential use of the past perfect is common in Andean Spanish to indicate that the speaker has not witnessed the action or state described by the verb. Taking these differences into consideration, this study examines the use of past tenses in the narratives of three different groups of inhabitants of Lima: migrants from the Andean region, adults born in Lima whose parents are Andean migrants, and Limeños born and raised in traditional neighborhoods in Lima. This analysis shows that while first generation migrants maintain many features of the Andean system, second generation migrants seem to have a hybrid system. These speakers have partially acquired the dialectal characteristics of Lima but at the same time maintain some of the dialectal characteristics of their parents. There is no evidence to indicate that Limeños adopt the characteristics of the first or second generation migrants' systems. Although people perceive that traditional Limeño Spanish is no longer spoken in the city, the authors' data does not provide evidence of change in coastal Limeño Spanish, but demonstrates a high degree of variation among the different groups.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 10th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Joyce Bruhn de Garavito and Elena Valenzuela
Table of contents
Printed edition: $250.00