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Language use and attitudes toward Kaqchikel and Spanish in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala

Tammy Jandrey Hertel and Hilary Barnes

Abstract

This study focuses on the factors contributing to language maintenance and shift in the bilingual community of San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, where both Spanish and Kaqchikel are spoken. For many decades, San Marcos was relatively isolated from other nearby communities and many speakers were monolingual in Kaqchikel. However, recent changes in the community, particularly a rise in tourism and access to education, have contributed to an increased need for Spanish. The present study draws from qualitative data collected from sociolinguistic interviews and participant observation to determine both the usage of Kaqchikel and Spanish in the community and the attitudes that bilingual speakers have toward both languages. Results demonstrate that Kaqchikel continues to be a marker of identity and cultural pride, but the economic opportunities Spanish provides result in more people using Spanish at work and home.


Corresponding author: Tammy Jandrey Hertel, University of Lynchburg, Virginia, USA, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2020-09-18
Published in Print: 2020-11-26

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