Linguistics Department

Language and Culture Job Talk - Sergio Romero, “Those folks can’t speak our language correctly!” New dialect formation, language standardization and migration among the Q’eqchi’ Maya of Lowland Guatemala

Mon, February 27, 2012 | UTC 3.134

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

This presentation will examine the effect of new vernaculars on the diffusion and cultural roles of standardization projects in multi-dialectal migrant communities. Based on monolingual ethnographic work in Q’eqchi’, I will discuss the reciprocal impact on Standard Q’eqchi’ (SQ), a standardized variety crafted by language activists, on Lowland Q’eqchi’ (LQ), a new Q’eqchi’ vernacular spoken in migrant rural communities in northwestern and northern Guatemala. Far from simple being a reflection of independent social and linguistic innovations in the lowlands, the sociolinguistic history of highland Q’eqchi’ migrants backgrounds the social meanings and pragmatic roles currently associated with both LQ and SQ. Their establishment as discourse registers occurred concurrently in the lowlands, enabling, shaping, and mutually reinforcing both varieties. I will finish with a discussion on the articulation of successful standardization projects with local regimes of social indexicality and the way linguistic practice mediates changes in ethnic identification, authority and education among the Q’eqchi’ Maya.

*Search to fill the Language and Culture position sponsored by LLILAS, in conjunction with the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese, and Linguistics*

Please contact Carla Lañas with any questions: clanas@austin.utexas.edu

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