Universiteit Leiden

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Spanish-English contact in the Falkland Islands

Thursday 16 June 2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Today, English is the most used language in the Falkland Islands, however, Spanish was also spoken in the 19th century when beef livestock farming was one of the economic engines of the Islands. Such businessess used to be managed by gauchos from South America, and their presence is still evident in the lexicon of Falkland Islands English. Lafone, a businessman, and the British Crown exploited cattle with the help of Spanish-speaking people from the River Plate region (Beccaceci, 2017). Such enterprises set up the beginning of a language contact arena between English and Spanish. Falkland Islands vernacular is regarded as the result of dialect contact only, which entails an exception compared to the other colonial Englishes (Trudgill, 2004). However, a somehow neglected or unknown aspect of its history has been its contact with Spanish. Spanish-English contact in the Falklands has left mainly two linguistic products: loanwords and place names. The existence of these place names reflects the history of the area. The former Spanish administration as well as contact with 19th-century Spanish-speaking gauchos left quite a few Hispanic toponyms. Mostly coined after 1833, these toponyms collectively reflect the need for orientation, delimitation and land management for livestock. However, there is another group of Spanish place names that is not used in the Islands. These toponyms are partly a result of the ongoing Argentinian claim of sovereignty mainly -though not exclusively - related to horse tack and horse types. Furthermore, it is clear from the data that most words are tightly connected to gauchos vernacular and not exclusively with their equestrian duties. Some loanwords are from autochthonous South American languages. the Indeigenisms are words from the Quechua and Guarani languages. this is the first case study on Americanisms in the English spoken in the archipelago, for which methods from anthropology, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics are employed. Overall, this work shows that language contact studies are advantageous when it comes to understanding history and social phenomena. Moreover, studying contact between English and spanish in the Falklands, both synchronically and diachronically, allows one to conclude that the products of such contact are mainly constrained to loanwords and toponyms. 



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