Linguistic Differentiation in Mayan Language Revitalization in Guatemala


This paper presents a quantitative study of syntactic change in the context of Mayan language revitalization in Guatemala. Quantitative analyses of grammatical variation and code-switching patterns were used to examine the degree of Spanish influence in the speech of three generations of Sipakapense-Spanish bilinguals. The younger generations show lower frequencies of code-switching compared to the oldest generation. In terms of syntactic variation, younger speakers show patterns that suggest a resistance to influence from Spanish. The results suggest that younger speakers are hyperdifferentiating the two languages by avoiding traditional Sipakapense constructions that could be interpreted as resulting from Spanish influence. The analysis highlights the important role of language ideology in cases of language change due to contact and language shift.

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Published in Journal of Sociolinguistics, v. 12, issue 3, p. 275-305.

© The author 2008

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This research was supported by an NSF dissertation grant (SBR 94-15044) and an IEE Fulbright fellowship.