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Language contact on the Spanish- Portuguese border

From the book Convergence and divergence in Ibero-Romance across contact situations and beyond

  • Xosé A. Álvarez-Pérez


This paper studies the linguistic landscape of two distant bordercrossing areas, located in the municipalities of Verín (Spain)-Chaves (Portugal) and Vilar Formoso (Portugal)-Fuentes de Oñoro (Spain). The research is based on a corpus of 306 texts promoted by public bodies and private entities or individuals. It examines the presence and weight of the languages in which they are written, as well as the linguistic accuracy of the collected texts, interference phenomena and mixed statements that combine both languages. The results obtained demonstrate the complexity of the linguistic landscape on the borderland, a place with intense interpersonal contact and, at the same time, an area where national identity is often vindicated. In this sense, convergence whereby linguistic systems of neighbouring languages become similar due to the borrowing of material from the neighbour’s language or, on the contrary, non-convergence, i.e. the lack of such converging and thus the tendency to not use the neighbour’s language in the texts placed into the public space, can serve as an indicator of language loyalty and, as such, of the strength of the national identity.

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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