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The Spanish of the Northern Peruvian Andes

A Sociohistorical and Dialectological Account


Luis Andrade Ciudad

This book analyses a set of rarely described regional Spanish varieties spoken throughout much of the northern Peruvian Andes (Cajamarca, La Libertad and Ancash) from a sociohistorical and dialectological perspective. What are the main dialectological features of these varieties? Are these features the same ones that shape southern Andean Spanish, a variety formed mainly through contact with Quechua and Aymara? Which of these features are distinctly outcomes of contact with Culle, the main substrate language of the region, which was mentioned in colonial and postcolonial documents but is now extinct? How are these features linked to the postcolonial history of the region, marked by the Catholic evangelization enterprise and an «economy of plundering» based on agriculture, weaving and mining? Thorough consideration of these matters allows the author to critically assess the standard notion in Hispanic linguistics that considers Andean Spanish as a single, homogeneous code. The study sheds new light on how the regional varieties of Spanish in America were shaped over time and proposes ways of delving into language history in postcolonial contexts, where a written European language has been superimposed on a set of native codes previously lacking written traditions.
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This book, which emerges from my doctoral thesis presented to the Andean Studies Program at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), aims to describe a regional cluster of Spanish dialects that have been insufficiently addressed in the literature: those spoken in a large area of the North Peruvian Andes, especially in the southern part of Cajamarca department,1 the mountainous region of La Libertad department, and the extreme northern area of Ancash department (see Maps 1 and 2 for the locations mentioned in the book). With use of a corpus mainly accumulated from five towns in this region, I will attempt to show that we have before us a collection of well-defined dialects. While this dialect group shares features with Quechua- and Aymara-based South Andean Spanish – the variety of reference and contrast – the two groups diverge based on various phenomena that must be considered under the North variety’s own logic and organization.

Likewise, following a review of the historical context in which this Spanish variety has emerged – a task that included enrichment of the available documentary evidence through examination of historic archives – I will argue that the peculiarities observed in North Peruvian Andean Spanish resulted from the complex indigenous substrate that influenced it, as well as from evolution of the Spanish system due to limited standardizing pressure within the mentioned territory, a cultural region religiously, economically, and commercially integrated from pre-Hispanic times through the end of the colonial period. During this endeavor I will subject...

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