LINGUIST List 6.1394

Wed Oct 11 1995

Disc: Language and Dialect

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Celso Alvarez-Caccamo, Re: 6.1334, Disc: Language and Dialect
  2. Barry Ivan Holzman, Re: 6.1357, Disc: Language and Dialect

Message 1: Re: 6.1334, Disc: Language and Dialect

Date: Fri, 06 Oct 1995 02:49:10 Re: 6.1334, Disc: Language and Dialect
From: Celso Alvarez-Caccamo <>
Subject: Re: 6.1334, Disc: Language and Dialect

On the language/dialect discussion, Benji Wald says:
> Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 16:35:00 PDT
> From: IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU (benji wald )
> Subject: lg/dialect.more
> might want to respond. I am particularly interested in corrections and
> additions to what I say about "Spanish", "castellano" and "Gallego" below.
> ...
> A final thought on the above problem is that some people will
> argue on the basis of the standard that, say, there is no
> continuum between Spanish and Portuguese because "Spanish" means
> standard Spanish, also known by the "dialectal" name castellano,
> and Gallego, the Galician transition between Northern "Spanish"
> and Northern "Portuguese" is a separate language, not Spanish.
This is indeed an awkward formulation. It pressuposes, by negation, that
Galizan could be considered a dialect of *Spanish*. The use of the
Spanish name "Gallego" for it, instead of the native Portuguese term
"Galego" or either of the English translations Galician/Gallegan (both, by
the way, derived from Spanish "Galicia" and "gallego") reflects a
dubiously informed view about the nature of the native dialects of Galiza

We may say that, in terms of usages and socio-functional distribution,
Galizan has been (and for the most part continues to be) a *social*
dialect of Spanish -- very roughly speaking, Spanish varieties for formal
domains, Galizan varieties for informal domains. But structurally, native
Galizan has been, still is, and will presumably continue to be (until it
disappears as a native dialect in the next generations) a part of the
Western Ibero-Romance Block.

The view of Galizan as an "intermediate step" in the Portuguese-Spanish
continuum is only a very rough formulation of the question. We would need
to be more specific as to what specific Galizan dialects we're focusing
on. Urban varieties of Galiza Portuguese are highly 'interferred' by
Spanish. The regularized, formal variety spread through the spoken media
(particularly television) is, curiously enough, a prosodic and phonetic
calque of Spanish, seasoned with a few, highly productive lexical elements
and quaint formulae ("enxebrismos" is the Galizan word) which symbolize
the new "language" -- and discourse on identity. No wonder why speakers
from other areas of the Portuguese domain interpret this sort of TV
Galizan as a "weird Spanish".

Overall, the differences between Galizan, Portuguese, Brazilian and other
clusters of varieties do not warrant the classification of Galizan as a
separate language from a strictly structural viewpoint. It is puzzling to
observe the lack of rigor and consistency on the part of linguists (for
the most part dialectologists) who proclaim the independence of "Galician"
when it comes to applying the same classificatory criteria based on
dialectal variation to other linguistic domains of the world -- including,
of course, Spanish, English, French, or you-name-it. Even Ruhlen's
extensive catalogue _A Guide to the World's Languages_ is not exempt from
this type of inconsistencies.

Finally, as for the written form, the current official attempt to impose
an orthography heavily based on the Spanish model may have serious
negative implications for the very goal the language planners officially
declare to pursue: the "normalization" of the "Galician language". The
unstated official programme is one of pure, unjustified differentialism
from standard Portuguese. As it stands, anything that passes as Spanish
may also pass as "Galician", while anything that sounds "too Portuguese"
is, literally, banned (from officially sanctioned written and oral texts).

Language planners in Galiza have an immense responsibility in reopening an
academic debate about the issue which should have never been closed due to
dogmatism and political reasons. I personally think, simply put, that --
as it happens sometimes in the political spectrum -- there's no viable
linguistic or sociolinguistic space in between Portuguese and Spanish in
the world to come -- as there would be no room for an independent
"Brazilian language". But, paradoxically enough, it is easier to air out
one's disobedient views about Galizan in an international forum like
LINGUIST than in Galiza itself.

Celso Alvarez-Caccamo
Departamento de Linguistica Geral e Teoria da Literatura
Universidade da Corunha, Galiza - Spain
Tel: 34-81-100457, ext. 1758
FAX: 34-81-102459
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Message 2: Re: 6.1357, Disc: Language and Dialect

Date: Mon, 09 Oct 1995 14:28:45 Re: 6.1357, Disc: Language and Dialect
From: Barry Ivan Holzman <>
Subject: Re: 6.1357, Disc: Language and Dialect

	In Puerto Rico 'espanhol' is used for both the language and
things/people from Spain. As I understand it, 'castellano' was the dialect
spoken by Queen Isabella of Spain. Therefore, 'castellano' became the
language of power, and later on, the national language. In those days, you
could be 'espanhol' but spoke 'aragones, castellano, gallego, catalan, etc'

Sofia Ramirez-Gelpi
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