Linguistic Detective Work: Using circumstantial and "fingerprint" evidence to solve the mystery of Palenquero's grammar

CGS Brown Bag Lecture Series
Mar 13, 2013
01:15 PM to 02:15 PM
430 Burrowes

Hiram Smith, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, Penn State

Creoles are languages that take their grammar and lexicon from two or more languages, often a colonial language and one of African origin. Until recently, many believed creole languages to be bastardized forms of European vernaculars. Recent linguistic research on creole languages has revealed that, despite having “mixed” grammars, internal language change takes place in these languages in the same manner as has been found for other languages of the world. 

Hiram Smith is currently developing research in the Afro-Hispanic community of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. His doctoral dissertation examines two enigmatic grammatical forms (one nominal and one verbal) in the Spanish-based creole called Palenquero, in order to determine their origins. 

This presentation contributes to the documentation of languages in the African diaspora, which have been socially stigmatized, and to demonstrating their systematicity in the structure of linguistic variation. It will also consider some of the more general issues in creole studies and studies on African American vernacular English.

Hiram Smith is a graduate student of linguistics in the Department of Spanish, Italian & Portuguese at Penn State. His research interests include sociolinguistics, language variation and change, pidgin and creole languages, African American Vernacular English, and placing language in its social and historical contexts. 

This lecture is part of the Center for Global Studies Brown Bag Graduate Lecture Series which focuses on the graduate research across disciplinary fields.

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