Language in Latin America

Instructor(s): Gregory R. Guy

This is a linguistic survey of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere. These countries show substantial regional, social, and ethnic diversity in language use, and have histories of extensive language contact, involving Amerindian and African languages. This course offers an introduction to the linguistic diversity of Latin America, and considers historical perspectives on how the present situation arose. We address dialectological questions: how and why do American Spanish and Portuguese differ from European varieties?; what regional dialect differences exist in the Americas and why? We examine sociolinguistic issues, such as class and ethnic variation, origins of popular varieties, and the effects of contact. We consider the Spanish- and Portuguese-based creoles of the region and the question of prior creolization in the popular speech of Brazil, Cuba, and other areas with a substantial population of African descent. Current research in the area is highlighted. Lecture-based, with practical assignments.

Some knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese will be very helpful.