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Open Access Trinidad Spanish: implications for Afro-Hispanic language

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Trinidad Spanish: implications for Afro-Hispanic language

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

[First paragraph]The question of Spanish language usage among African-born slaves (known as bozales) and their descendents in Spanish America is the subject of much controversy, and has had a major impact on theories of Creole formation and the evolution of Latin American dialects of Spanish, Portuguese and French. Briefly, one school of thought maintains that, at least during the last 150-200 years of African slave trade to Spanish America, bozales and their immediate descendants spoke a relatively uniform Spanish pidgin or creole, concentrated in the Caribbean region but ostensibly extending even to many South American territories. This creole in turn had Afro-Portuguese roots, derived from if not identical to the hypothetical maritime Portuguese creole (sometimes also identified with the medieval Sabir or Lingua Franca) claimed to be the source of most European - based Creoles in Africa, Asia and the Americas.1 The principal sources of evidence come in 19th century documents from the Caribbean region, principally Cuba and Puerto Rico, where many (but not all) bozal texts share a noteworthy similarity with other demonstrably Afro-Portuguese or Afro-Hispanic Creoles in South America, Africa and Asia.

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