As rich as the development of the Spanish and Portuguese languages has been in Latin America, no single book has attempted to chart their complex history. Gathering essays by sociohistorical linguists working across the region, Salikoko S. Mufwene does just that in this book. Exploring the many different contact points between Iberian colonialism and indigenous cultures, the contributors identify the crucial parameters of language evolution that have led to today’s state of linguistic diversity in Latin America.
The essays approach language development through an ecological lens, exploring the effects of politics, economics, cultural contact, and natural resources on the indigenization of Spanish and Portuguese in a variety of local settings. They show how languages adapt to new environments, peoples, and practices, and the ramifications of this for the spread of colonial languages, the loss or survival of indigenous ones, and the way hybrid vernaculars get situated in larger political and cultural forces. The result is a sophisticated look at language as a natural phenomenon, one that meets a host of influences with remarkable plasticity.