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Portuguese as a contact language in Galicia

Convergence, divergence, ideology and identity

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

  • Xosé Luís Regueira


Portuguese is not generally regarded as a contact language with Galician. Both languages shared a common written form in the Middle Ages, but at the end of that period they became differentiated. Today, standard Galician encourages some convergence in aspects of vocabulary and grammar, and some minority groups take (mainly written) Portuguese as the main reference for standard Galician. This paper addresses some public discourses which show numerous grammatical and lexical forms appropriated from written Portuguese but in which, in an apparently paradoxical manner, many (mainly phonetic) features of Spanish as a contact language also appear. In the wake of studies on identity construction in linguistic interaction, and by using the concept of indexicality, this study demonstrates that the contact forms taken from Portuguese and from Spanish contribute to the construction of social, political and ideological identities in a way that, far from being contradictory, reinforce each other in some respects (urban, non-lower class, educated). In more general terms, this article shows that the understanding of language contact can benefit greatly from the sociolinguistic work based on the agency of speakers and from the studies of identity construction in interaction.

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