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The Afro-Hispanic languages of the Americas (AHLAs) are rich in structures and prosodic patterns that would be considered either ungrammatical or pragmatically infelicitous in standard Spanish. Some of these features have traditionally been classified as the traces of a once-existing creole language, which would have almost completely dissolved after a process of decreolization. The present book was written out of the conviction that the Decreolization Hypothesis is on the wrong track and that such “creole-like” features can actually be explained as the result of common contact-driven phenomena, which are related to processing constraints affecting the interfaces between different language modules; hence, they are universal and depend on the nature of the architecture of the language faculty.
Chapter 2 provides a sociohistorical analysis of the evolution of Yungueño Spanish, Chota Valley Spanish and Chincha Spanish. The chapter illustrates general aspects of the African Diaspora to the Americas and its specific linguistic consequences in Yungas (Bolivia), Chota Valley (Ecuador) and Chincha (Peru). Given the historical evidence available for these Afro-Hispanic Languages of the Americas, I propose that these contact varieties developed in isolated rural villages, not subject to the social pressures imposed by education, standardization and the linguistic norm. In such a context, advanced SLA processes could be nativized and conventionalized at the local level, thus crystallizing in the L1 varieties spoken by subsequent generations of these Afro-Andean communities.
Chapter 7 concludes this book by summarizing its content and highlighting how the so-called “creole-like” features detected for the AHLAs can be better explained in terms of interface-constrained advanced SLA processes, which were subsequently nativized and conventionalized by following generations of speakers. Likewise, this chapter stresses the importance of these Afro-Hispanic vernaculars to linguistic theory by showing how these contact varieties can offer both a window into possible L2 instantiations of UG as well as an ideal testing ground for formal hypotheses (Sessarego 2014a), which have primarily been built on standardized language data.
Chapter 6 provides an overview of Yungueño Spanish, Chota Valley Spanish and Chincha Spanish declarative intonation in terms of the realization of pitch accents and phrase boundary tones. The inventory of these phonological targets in these vernaculars is much more reduced than what has been encountered in other native (non-contact) varieties of Spanish (Aguilar et al. 2009; Beckman et al. 2002; Prieto & Roseano 2010). The speakers of these dialects show evidence of duplicating nuclear and prenuclear pitch accents, as well as boundary configurations, at both levels of phrasing (i.e., intermediate and intonational phrases) (Sessarego & Rao 2016; Rao & Sessarego 2016, 2018; Sessarego, Butera & Rao 2019; Butera, Sessarego & Rao 2020). The nature of these phenomena is analyzed as pertaining to the phonology–pragmatics interface, since both phonological and discourse features are involved.
Chapter 5 focuses on mechanisms that do not rely solely on the interaction between the morphological and semantic modules; rather, they are also significantly conditioned by the syntax–pragmatics interface. The chapter addresses the nature of certain pro-drop phenomena in these Afro-Andean vernaculars. In particular, it analyzes the presence in these dialects of three highly interrelated features and provides a model to explain this specific restructured configuration: (1) the use of non-emphatic, non-contrastive overt subjects; (2) the presence of non-inverted questions; and (3) impoverished subject–verb agreement. The data presented there also serve as a testing ground for formal hypotheses on the nature of pronominal expressions across languages. In so doing, the chapter offers evidence for arguments questioning the validity of the Null Subject Parameter (Chomsky 1981; Rizzi 1982), or more broadly, for recent proposals that revisit the concept of “parameter” in favor of new potential paths of analysis (Eguren, Fernández-Soriano & Mendikoetxea 2016).
Chapter 4 analyzes gender and number agreement processes within the Determiner Phrase (DP) of Yungueño Spanish, Chota Valley Spanish and Chincha Spanish. The data presented here show a variety of reduced agreement configurations, which are rooted in L2 processing constraints applying at the morphology–semantics interface. A unified account of these phenomena is provided by adopting current formal proposals on the nature of feature valuation and checking (Frampton & Gutmann 2000; Pesetsky & Torrego 2007). In so doing, this chapter enhances a stronger dialogue between syntactic theory and variationist analysis, which is fundamental to account for the nature and evolution of the agreement domain across the DP of these Afro-Hispanic dialects.
Chapter 3 provides an overview of a number of theoretical proposals that have been put forward in the literature to account for language variation. It elaborates on models that combine formal generative theorizing and quantitative sociolinguistic methodology, in line with current minimalist analyses (Adger & Smith 2005; Sessarego & Gutiérrez-Rexach 2011; Sessarego 2014a). This chapter also stresses the importance of embracing a perspective of mutual complementation – rather than mutual exclusion – between these two fields, especially when the varieties under study consist of stigmatized vernaculars, for which it may be hard to obtain reliable grammaticality judgments and that may be characterized by high levels of inter- and intra-speaker speech variability (Cornips & Poletto 2005).
The Afro-Hispanic Languages of the Americas (AHLAs) present a number of grammatical similarities that have traditionally been ascribed to a previous creole stage. Approaching creole studies from contrasting standpoints, this groundbreaking book provides a new account of these phenomena. How did these features come about? What linguistic mechanisms can account for their parallel existence in several contact varieties? How can we formalize such mechanisms within a comprehensive theoretical framework? How can these new datasets help us test and refine current formal theories, which have primarily been based on standardized language data? In addressing these important questions, this book not only casts new light on the nature of the AHLAs, it also provides new theoretical and methodological perspectives for a more integrated approach to the study of contact-driven restructuring across language interfaces and linguistic domains.