How many “grammars” per “language”?

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The Palenquero creole language (spoken together with Spanish in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia) exhibits a number of key grammatical features found in no variety of Spanish; mutual intelligibility between Spanish and Palenquero is quite low. It is not unreasonable to assume that Palenqueros psycholinguistically partition Spanish and Palenquero, that they are able to identify given configur-ations as belonging to either Spanish or Palenquero, and that utterances con-taining both quintessentially Palenquero and uniquely Spanish structures will be acknowledged as mixed. The present study is based on experiments conducted in San Basilio de Palenque, using stimuli extracted from natural speech samples, entirely in Spanish, entirely in Palenquero, and containing what might be con-sidered Spanish-LP morphosyntactic mixing. The overall results suggest that code-switching as commonly defined is not explicitly accepted by Palenqueros. They also demonstrate an asymmetry between perception and production: “grammars” and “languages” are not psycholinguistically coterminous for LP-Spanish bilinguals.


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