Presentation Title

Linguistic collision: a preliminary study of Spanish and Asturian in Spain

Authors' Names

Lucia Hermo del Teso

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

In this presentation, I will talk about language contact between Spanish and Asturian, a regional and endangered language spoken in Asturias, northwestern Spain. Language contact refers to an occurrence when two or more languages interact, and speakers of these languages communicate using both languages regardless of fluency (Thomason, 2001). The regional language Asturian is in contact with Spanish, the majority and prestigious language in the country. Asturian speakers are bilingual, and thus speak both Asturian and Spanish. These languages are typologically similar, both descending from Latin, with a high rate of mutual intelligibility. However, there are crucial grammatical and lexical differences that may cause misinterpretation if both are not learnt proficiently. Historically, Spanish has been the language used for written communication since the 14th century, when Asturian was relegated to spoken communication (Barnes, 2015). Currently, Asturian is a non-prestigious language, it is not an official language even in Asturias, and therefore it is not a compulsory language in schools. On the other hand, Spanish enjoys a prestigious status, and is the official language in entire country including Asturias, i.e. the language of schools and government.

Two of the outcomes of language contact suggested by Thomason (2001) are language change and language mixture. This preliminary study aims to identify the outcomes of language contact between Asturian and Spanish, and the way language mixture occurs between the two languages. In order to accomplish these objectives, I linguistically examined an episode of a game show spoken in Asturian broadcasted by the Asturian TV channel in December 2015. Speech by all participants in the show was transcribed and annotated using ELAN, a linguistic annotation software (Wittenburg, 2006). The results showed a large amount of language mixture; and it revealed a significant influence from Spanish. The major findings are: (i) that mixture between the languages occurred on different constituent levels, i.e. conversation, intonation unit, clause, phrase, and word (ii) that some words mixed Asturian sentence structure and Spanish sound structure, and some vice versa, and (iii) that some Asturian sounds were lost in favor of the Spanish corresponding sounds.

Though it is a preliminary research, this study has the following significances. First, the study enhances the field of language contact, because it deals with two typologically similar languages, unlike most research. Second, this research contributes to the study of sociolinguistics because it explores outcomes of language contact between a prestigious international language and a non-prestigious regional language. Finally, this study bears broader impacts as it provides understanding of Asturian today, which can be helpful for language revitalization efforts, as it is an endangered language.

Works cited:

Barnes, S. 2015. Perceptual salience and social categorization of contact features in Asturian Spanish. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics. Vol. 8. No. 2.: 213–241

Thomason, S. 2001. Language Contact: An Introduction. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Wittenburg, P., Brugman, H., Russel, A., Klassmann, A., Sloetjes, H. 2006. ELAN: a Professional Framework for Multimodality Research. In Proceedings of LREC 2006, Fifth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation

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Apr 27th, 9:40 AM Apr 27th, 9:55 AM

Linguistic collision: a preliminary study of Spanish and Asturian in Spain

UC Ballroom, Pod #1

In this presentation, I will talk about language contact between Spanish and Asturian, a regional and endangered language spoken in Asturias, northwestern Spain. Language contact refers to an occurrence when two or more languages interact, and speakers of these languages communicate using both languages regardless of fluency (Thomason, 2001). The regional language Asturian is in contact with Spanish, the majority and prestigious language in the country. Asturian speakers are bilingual, and thus speak both Asturian and Spanish. These languages are typologically similar, both descending from Latin, with a high rate of mutual intelligibility. However, there are crucial grammatical and lexical differences that may cause misinterpretation if both are not learnt proficiently. Historically, Spanish has been the language used for written communication since the 14th century, when Asturian was relegated to spoken communication (Barnes, 2015). Currently, Asturian is a non-prestigious language, it is not an official language even in Asturias, and therefore it is not a compulsory language in schools. On the other hand, Spanish enjoys a prestigious status, and is the official language in entire country including Asturias, i.e. the language of schools and government.

Two of the outcomes of language contact suggested by Thomason (2001) are language change and language mixture. This preliminary study aims to identify the outcomes of language contact between Asturian and Spanish, and the way language mixture occurs between the two languages. In order to accomplish these objectives, I linguistically examined an episode of a game show spoken in Asturian broadcasted by the Asturian TV channel in December 2015. Speech by all participants in the show was transcribed and annotated using ELAN, a linguistic annotation software (Wittenburg, 2006). The results showed a large amount of language mixture; and it revealed a significant influence from Spanish. The major findings are: (i) that mixture between the languages occurred on different constituent levels, i.e. conversation, intonation unit, clause, phrase, and word (ii) that some words mixed Asturian sentence structure and Spanish sound structure, and some vice versa, and (iii) that some Asturian sounds were lost in favor of the Spanish corresponding sounds.

Though it is a preliminary research, this study has the following significances. First, the study enhances the field of language contact, because it deals with two typologically similar languages, unlike most research. Second, this research contributes to the study of sociolinguistics because it explores outcomes of language contact between a prestigious international language and a non-prestigious regional language. Finally, this study bears broader impacts as it provides understanding of Asturian today, which can be helpful for language revitalization efforts, as it is an endangered language.

Works cited:

Barnes, S. 2015. Perceptual salience and social categorization of contact features in Asturian Spanish. Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics. Vol. 8. No. 2.: 213–241

Thomason, S. 2001. Language Contact: An Introduction. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Wittenburg, P., Brugman, H., Russel, A., Klassmann, A., Sloetjes, H. 2006. ELAN: a Professional Framework for Multimodality Research. In Proceedings of LREC 2006, Fifth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation