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On the Status of Afro-Bolivian Spanish Features: Decreolization or Vernacular Universals?
Sandro Sessarego
125-141 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Afro-Bolivian Spanish (ABS) is an Afro-Hispanic vernacular spoken in the region of Los Yungas, Department of La Paz, Bolivia. This language has only been recently brought to the attention of linguists by John Lipski (2006a,b, 2008), who provided a detailed description of its grammatical features. The exact origin of ABS is not yet completely clear. In particular, based on the presence of certain grammatical features, it has been suggested that this language could have evolved from a nativized colonial Afro-Hispanic pidgin (Lipski 2008:186), but sociohistorical data have not been provided to support this claim. In this paper, the available sociohistorical and linguistic evidence is examined. Findings indicate that the grammar of this language can be better analyzed as the result of intermediate and advanced second language acquisition processes, which do not necessarily imply a previous pidgin nativization. This work, in line with studies on Afro-Hispanic contact varieties in the Venezuelan region (Díaz-Campos and Clements 2005, 2008), indicates that also in the Bolivian highlands, the sociohistorical conditions were not favorable for a creole language to develop. Finally, this article not only considers the importance of social factors in patterning the presence of certain linguistic elements into ABS; it also attempts to explain why certain constructions might have emerged as a result of universal processing constraints on learnability imposed by the human mind.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics
edited by Jim Michnowicz and Robin Dodsworth
Table of contents
Printed edition: $190.00