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Portuguese or Portuñol? Language contact in Misiones, Argentina

  • John M. Lipski (a1)

In the extreme northeastern Argentine province of Misiones, vernacular Portuguese is the primary language of many rural communities, in bilingual contact with Spanish. The present study examines data from Misiones Portuguese and Spanish for evidence of morphosyntactic convergence in the absence of formal schooling in either language or sociolinguistic pressures to produce canonical varieties. Data from a corpus of vernacular Misiones Portuguese and the results of a speeded translation task reveal that even in this sociolinguistically permissive environment bilingual speakers maintain distinct morphosyntactic systems for Portuguese and Spanish (exemplified by nominal plural marking and first-person plural verbal inflection). The data also suggest that bilingual contact alone does not yield the degree of convergence required for the hybrid Portuguese-Spanish morphosyntaxis that has been reported, for example, in northern Uruguay.

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*Address for correspondence: John M. Lipski, Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, 231 Burrowes Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, U. S. A. 1-814-865-6583 (telephone), 1-814-863-7944 (fax),
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