Why Don't All Contact Features Act Alike? Contact Features as Enregistered Features

In: Journal of Language Contact
Author: Anna Babel
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It has been widely observed that speakers of Andean Spanish use features that are borrowed or calqued from Quechua (de Granda 2001; Pfänder 2009). In this article, I demonstrate that these features are not evenly distributed over contexts of language use; rather, most contact features occur significantly more frequently in conversations than in formal contexts such as meetings. However, some contact features behave differently: they are more likely to occur in meetings than in conversation. Why don't all contact features act alike? I suggest that this result can be explained by the linguistic anthropological theory of enregisterment (Agha 2005, 2007). Agha defines register as 'a linguistic repertoire that is associated, culture-internally, with particular social practices and with persons who engage in such practices' (2004: 24). I demonstrate that while some Quechua contact features in Spanish have been linked to informal contexts associated with Quechua and Quechua speakers through the process of enregisterment, other features bypassed this process, retaining Quechua pragmatic content that links them to a formal register. I argue that the theory of enregisterment provides a useful tool for interpreting the effects of language contact.

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