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Language, Identity and Urban Space

The Language Use of Latin American Migrants

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Tabea Salzmann

Migration as a process has achieved increasing attention in the context of nation-states and globalisation. In linguistics the field of language contact is particularly associated with this phenomenon. This book investigates the connection between language usage, migration, space, in particular urban space, and the constitution of cultural identity. Two corpora of Andean migrants’ Spanish conversations in Lima and in Madrid are analysed. The resulting comparative analysis provides the material for considerations on language contact, code copying, discourse strategies etc. Throughout the book a new theoretical approach based on linguistic ecology is used. It includes the concept of a general expanded feature pool, which is the basis for language use and identity constitution for migrants.
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1. Introduction

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“En la interacción entre lo urbano y lo rural para mí es una vida cotidiana. Además este, esa relacióng no solamente es dinámica sino también es casi intercultural, porque yo sí valoro de lo que son de acá y son de allá. No estoy claro en los dos frentes, pero estoy aquí y estoy allá. Mejor dicho, si estoy en Lima hablo el castellano de Lima, si estoy a Ayacucho hablo el castellano de Ayacucho. O sea, he tratado de superar algunas bar:eras lingüísticas o sociolingüísticas.“

(In the interaction between the urban and the rural, for me it is an everyday life. Also, this relationship is not only dynamic, but also almost intercultural, because I do value those who are from here and from there. I am not clear on both fronts, but I am both here and there. Or better, if I am in Lima I talk the Spanish of Lima, if I am at Ayacucho I talk the Spanish of Ayacucho. So, I have tried to overcome some linguistic and sociolinguistic barriers.1)

This quotation from one of the persons recorded for this investigation brings us straight to the core of our subject matter: linguistic interaction of urban migrants in diverse spaces. The speaker is a professor from Ayacucho, and one of the better educated persons in the corpus. He describes very tangibly how he and many other migrants constitute their personal identity. Their manner...

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