Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2452-1949
  • E-ISSN: 2452-2147
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes
  • Chocó Spanish and the Missing Spanish Creole debate

    Sociohistorical and linguistic considerations to solve the puzzle

  • Author(s): Sandro Sessarego 1, 2, 3, 4
  • View Affiliations Hide Affiliations
    1 Foro Latinoamericano de Antropología del Derecho
    2 Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
    3 Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies
    4 The University of Texas at Austin
  • Source: Language Ecology, Volume 1, Issue 2, Jan 2017, p. 213 - 241
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/le.1.2.05ses
    • Version of Record published : 12 Jan 2018


This study offers a linguistic and sociohistorical analysis of Chocó Spanish (CS), an Afro-Hispanic variety spoken in the Pacific lowlands of Colombia by the descendants of the slaves taken to this region to work in gold mines during the colonial era. This research also tackles the many questions arising from the much-debated origins of the Afro-Hispanic Languages of the Americas (AHLAs) ( McWhorter 2000 ; Lipski 2005 ). It provides an account of the evolution of CS that is rooted in the recently proposed Legal Hypothesis of Creole Genesis ( Sessarego 2015 , 2017a ). In so doing, this article tests to what extent such a hypothesis makes valid predictions for a variety like CS, which developed in a region described by many as ‘remote’ and ‘on the frontier’ (cf. Whitten 1974 ; Sharp 1976 ), thus far away from legal courts and where law was not likely to be properly enforced.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Andrés-Gallego, J.
    2005La esclavitud en la América española. Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bakker, P. , A. Daval-Markussen , M. Parkvall and I. Plag
    2011 Creoles are typologically distinct from non-creoles. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages26(1): 5–42. doi: 10.1075/jpcl.26.1.02bak
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jpcl.26.1.02bak [Google Scholar]
  3. Bryant, S.
    2005 Slavery and the Context of Ethnogenesis. PhD dissertation. The Ohio State University.
  4. Cantor, E.
    2000Ni aniquilados, ni vencidos. Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Chaudenson, R.
    2001Creolization of Language and Culture. London: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780203440292
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203440292 [Google Scholar]
  6. CIDCM
    CIDCM 2015 Center for International Development and Conflict Management. www.cidcm.umd.edu/mar/assessment.asp?groupId=10001Accessed on2 Sept 2015.
  7. Clements, C.
    2009The Linguistic Legacy of Spanish and Portuguese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511576171
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511576171 [Google Scholar]
  8. Colmenares, G.
    1972Historia económica y social de Colombia 1537–1719. Bogotá: Ediciones Culturales.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. 1979Historia económica y social de Colombia: Popayán una sociedad esclavista 1680–1800. Bogotá: LA CARRETA.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Cuba, M.
    2002El castellano hablado en Chincha. Lima: Talleres Gráficos de Angélica Tapia M.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Díaz-Campos, M. and C. Clements
    2008 A Creole origin for Barlovento Spanish? A linguistic and socio-historical inquiry. Language in Society37: 351–383. doi: 10.1017/S0047404508080548
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404508080548 [Google Scholar]
  12. Elkins, S.
    1959Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Flores Galindo, A.
    1984Aristocracia y plebe. Lima: Mosca Azul.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Flórez, L.
    1950 El habla del Chocó. THESAURUS6(1): 110–116.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Granda, G. de.
    1977 Estudios sobre un área dialectal hispanoamericana de poblacïón negra. Las tierras bajas occidentales de Colombia. Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo.
  16. 1978Estudios lingüísticos afrohispánicos y criollos. Madrid: Gredos.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gutiérrez-Maté, M. and N. Cancino Cabello
    2014 Lo oral, lo rústico y lo 'afro' en la configuración del etnolecto negro del Chocó (Colombia): el valor lingüístico de "Las estrellas son negras", de Arnoldo Palacios. Romance Philology68: 249–284. doi: 10.1484/J.RPH.5.107639
    https://doi.org/10.1484/J.RPH.5.107639 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hansen, A.
    1991 Conquest and Colonization in the Colombian Chocó, 1510–1740. PhD dissertation. University of Warwick.
  19. Lipski, J. M.
    1989The Speech of the Negros Congos in Panama. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/cll.4
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cll.4 [Google Scholar]
  20. 1992 El Valle del Chota: enclave lingüístico afroecuatoriano. Boletín de la academia Puertorriqueña de la lengua Española10: 21–36.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. 1993On the Non-Creole Basis for Afro-Caribbean Spanish. Research Paper Series no. 24. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. www.personal.psu.edu/jml34/noncreol.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  22. 2005A History of Afro-Hispanic Language: Five Centuries and Five Continents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511627811
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511627811 [Google Scholar]
  23. Manzini, G.
    1983 Apuntes acerca del español hablado en el Chocó (Colombia). Annali – Istituto aniversario di lingue moderne67: 127–143.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. McWhorter, J.
    1998 Identifying the creole prototype: Vindicating a typological class. Language74: 788–818. doi: 10.2307/417003
    https://doi.org/10.2307/417003 [Google Scholar]
  25. 2000The Missing Spanish Creoles. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Montes Giraldo, J.
    1974 El habla del Chocó: Notas breves. THESAURUS29(3): 409–428.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Mufwene, S. S.
    1996 The Founder Principle in creole genesis. Diachronica13: 83–134. doi: 10.1075/dia.13.1.05muf
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.13.1.05muf [Google Scholar]
  28. Pickard, D. M.
    2010 Saving Souls, Enslaving Bodies: The Jesuit and African Slavery in Colonial Peru, 1580–1650. MA thesis. Tufts University.
  29. Pound, R.
    1910 Law in books and law in action. American Law Review44: 12–36.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Rodríguez-Tocarruncho, L.
    2010 La marca de plural y otros aspectos morfológicos y sintácticos en el español del Pacífico de Colombia. MA thesis. Consejo Superior de Investigación Científicas.
  31. Romaine, S.
    1988Pidgin and Creole Languages. London/ New York: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Ruiz-García, M.
    2001 El español popular del Chocó, Colombia: Evidencia de una reestructuración parcial. PhD dissertation. University of New Mexico.
  33. Schwegler, A.
    1991 El habla cotidiana del Chocó (Colombia). América Negra2: 85–119.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. 2002 Review of John McWhorter, 2000, The Missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages. Language in Society31(1): 113–121.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Sessarego, S.
    2013a Afro-Hispanic contact varieties as advanced second languages. IBERIA5(1): 96–122.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. 2013bChota Valley Spanish. Madrid/ Frankfurt: Iberoamericana and Vervuert.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. 2014The Afro-Bolivian Spanish Determiner Phrase: A Microparametric Account. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. 2015Afro-Peruvian Spanish: Spanish Slavery and the Legacy of Spanish Creoles. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/cll.51
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cll.51 [Google Scholar]
  39. 2017a The Legal Hypothesis of Creole genesis: Presence/ absence of legal personality, a new element to the Spanish Creole debate. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages32(1): 1–47. doi: 10.1075/jpcl.32.1.01ses
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jpcl.32.1.01ses [Google Scholar]
  40. 2017b Chocó Spanish double negation and the genesis of the Afro-Hispanic dialects of the Americas. Diachronica32(1): 1–47.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. forthcoming. Enhancing dialogue in the field: Some remarks on the status of the Spanish Creole debate. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. under review. Language Contact and the Making of an Afro-Hispanic Vernacular: Variation and Change in the Colombian Chocó. Ms.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Sessarego, S. and L. Ferreira
    2016 Spanish and Portuguese parallels: Impoverished number Agreement as a vernacular feature of two rural dialects. In S. Sessarego and F. Tejedo-Herrero , eds.Spanish Language and Sociolinguistic Analysis. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 283–304. doi: 10.1075/ihll.8.12ses
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ihll.8.12ses [Google Scholar]
  44. Seuren, P. and W. Herman
    1986 Semantic transparency as a factor in Creole genesis. In P. Muysken and N. Smith , eds.Substrata versus Universals in Creole Genesis. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 57–70. doi: 10.1075/cll.1.05seu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cll.1.05seu [Google Scholar]
  45. Sharp, F.
    1976Slavery on the Spanish Frontier. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Tannenbaum, F.
    1947Slave and Citizen. New York: Vintage Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Thomason, S. G. and T. Kaufman
    1988Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Watson, A.
    1989Slave Law in the Americas. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. West, R.
    1957The Pacific Lowlands of Colombia. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Whitten, N.
    1974Black Frontiersmen. New York: Wiley.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Chocó Spanish; Legal Hypothesis of Creole Genesis; Spanish Creoles
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error