The School of Languages and Literatures | College of Arts

The School of Languages and Literatures

Symposium on Ecuadorian Spanish 2018

The College of Arts is hosting its first symposium on Ecuadorian Spanish, to be held on June 2-3, 2018. This event will take place in Mackinnon 031 

 

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This special meeting on Ecuadorian Spanish is the first initiative of its kind in Canada, whose aim is to offer a forum to bring together expert linguists who conduct research on this variety of Spanish in order to share findings, update our knowledge of this variety and to identify gaps and areas in need of further research. The Ecuadorian varieties, especially those spoken in the highland regions have existed in a long-term contact situation with indigenous languages, in particular with Quichua, and therefore have been deeply shaped by it. However, the linguistic landscape of the Spanish of Ecuador is much more complex and diverse. The varieties spoken in southern, eastern and coastal regions of Ecuador have been vastly neglected.

 

Geographic and Historical factors in the emergence of an Ecuadorian variety and its dialect zones

valleyFrom a historical perspective, 500 years of contact between Spanish and Quichua has resulted in unique linguistic innovations in the Spanish varieties spoken in Ecuador (Muysken 2018). The interaction between the two languages is the reflection of the interaction between the colonizers and the indigenous populations. As such, it is important to explore the ways in which the different indigenous communities were colonized, the demographic reality at the time of colonization, the decimation of indigenous populations by epidemics and labor exploitation, and the flows of domestic migration of Spanish speakers since the second half of the nineteenth century (Gomez Rendón 2018). Understanding the above historical events provides the social, cultural and historical background to contextualize linguistic atlases in progress in key linguistic communities (Estrella 2018).

Phonetics / Phonology

streetThe sound system of Ecuadorian Spanish has been deeply influenced by Quichua. One example is the retention of phonemic contrast between [ʎ] and [j] in the southern varieties (Cole 2018) in contrast to the merging of these two phonemes elsewhere in America and Spain (Gomez and Molina 2013).Ecuadorian phonology also shows divergence from other pan Hispanic varieties which is evident in the voicing of intervocalic /s/ in Lojano Spanish (García 2018), the assibilation of rhotics (Gomez 2003) the raising of mid vowels (Carvajal 2018), its suprasegmental features (O´Rourke 2018), as well as vowel devoicing and gestural overlap giving rise to innovations at the interface between morphology and phonology (Guerra 2018).

Morphology and Syntax

statuesEcuadorian Spanish displays morphological and syntactic variation, which contrary to phonetic characteristics, these are less evident to the untrained ear, but are just as susceptible to changes due to internal processes of the language itself, or to processes of languages in contact. We find Direct Object pronoun deletion (Narvaez 2018), the increase of subject pronoun expression influenced from Quichua (Del Carpio 2018), the use of simple past and compound past tenses with new pragmatic reach (Puma 2018), and innovations evidenced in the verb tenses including verb-like structures, infinitive, gerund and participle forms, as well as on the imperative mode and the creation of periphrasis (Cordero 2018).

Pragmatics and Discourse Analysis

localsThis sub discipline of linguistics is the least studied, not only in Spanish in general, but certainly in Ecuadorian Spanish. Placencia (2018) analyzes communicative practices in Ecuadorian Spanish, especially the use of compliments in face-to-face interactions and in social media. Another study analyzes the use of the typically Ecuadorian discursive marker sifeísmo (Jesberger 2018)

 

 

Sociolinguistics and Languages in Contact

As most studies show, language contact has been a major factor shaping Ecuadorian Spanish. Sanchez Moreano (2018) examines the use of discursive markers in language contact situations in the context of migration. Of course, language contact can affect all areas of linguistic change; Verbs can easily change their semantic value, and can function like auxiliaries in certain constructions. The verb saber has become grammaticalized acquiring the meaning of habituality, becoming synonymous with "soler" (to be accustomed to) when followed by an infinitive. The use of "saber" as a habitual auxiliary has been attested in Old Spanish, but has also been attributed to Quichua contact (Enriquez 2018).

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