LWM 278: Isleño Spanish

Product no.: ISBN 9783895865930
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Isleño Spanish

Felice Coles
The University of Mississippi

As an endangered variety of Spanish spoken by a few hundred residents of southeast Louisiana, the isleño dialect dates back to 1778, when recruits from the Canary Islands populated the marshlands newly acquired by Spain from France. Existing in relative social and geographical isolation until the 20th century, the phonology of isleño Spanish parallels Caribbean varieties and other lowland Spanish dialects, including /s/ aspiration and deletion and liquid migration; and grammatically it has been influenced both by contact with American English and by language obsolescence, with reduction of forms, development of irregularities, and stylistic shrinkage. The lexicon of isleño Spanish contains archaisms from 18th century Canary Island Spanish, adapted loanwords from Cajun French and contemporary loanwords from American English. The community has made a concerted effort at ethnic preservation, establishing a museum dedicated to the traditions of the culture and a yearly festival for group solidarity, but ethnolinguistic vitality remains low, due to the lack of monolingual speakers and conversational situations outside the home requiring the use of isleño Spanish.

Felice Coles (the University of Mississippi) researches the endangerment and maintenance of Spanish dialects in the United States as well as the sociolinguistics of dialects of American English in the southern United States.

ISBN 9783895865930. Languages of the World/Materials 278. 60 pp. 1999.

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