Palenque and Its Neighbors: Languages and Attitudes

Open Access
Magerman, Daniel Jeffrey
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Linguistics and Spanish
Bachelor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • John Lipski, Thesis Supervisor
  • Paola Eulalia Dussias, Faculty Reader
  • John Lipski, Honors Advisor
  • linguistics
  • Spanish
  • creole
  • sociolinguistics
  • attitudes
  • Lengua
  • Palenquera
  • Palenque
  • Colombia
San Basilio de Palenque was established in the 17th century by a group of slaves who escaped from Cartagena near Colombia’s northern coast. Palenquero bilinguals speak a coastal-Colombian variety of Spanish and the Afro-Hispanic creole known as lengua ri Palenge (LP) – referred to by its speakers as Lengua or Lengua Palenquera. Historically, negative attitudes towards LP have been pervasive in the communities surrounding Palenque. This study explores inter-community relationships and examines how local linguistic perceptions of LP might be changing. Participants from neighboring communities were asked to judge speech samples of mixed Spanish and LP speech made by Palenqueros. Furthermore, to test their level of LP comprehension, the participants orally translated LP phrases to Spanish. Qualitative analysis of the data and ethnographic interviews suggest that traditional stigmas associated with LP and its speakers have dissipated, at least at the local level. Although it is clear that LP comprehension extends beyond the borders of Palenque, more research can be done to determine the location of the LP isogloss.