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Linguistic Outcomes of Language Contact in Belize

While Belize's official language is English, Spanish was established in Belize more than 150 years ago and upwards of 55% of people claims Spanish as a language they speak. Through quantitative analysis of spontaneous speech, this project examines the major patterns of use among speakers who utilize Spanish, English and/or Kriol in the same utterance. Much of our understanding of Spanish-English bilingualism has been based primarily on the U.S. context, yet Belize is an important context for this area of study. My research also entails comparative work between the two contexts with a view to identify the ways in which social and political contexts shape the outcomes of contact. Additionally, this work addresses a number of issues in creolistics and contact linguistics through examination of Spanish-Kriol contact in Belize. Some specific areas of analysis include grammatical gender of mixed DPs, bilingual compound verbs, intra-sentential codeswitching, the role of Kriol in this multilingual interplay as well the racialized, colonial ideologies which constrain language use.

 

Language, Culture and History: Belize in a Digital Age

While largely understudied, for decades Belize has been the site of data collection for various researchers. Much of these materials are in analog form and have been lost or remain hidden in personal research collections. Legacy sociolinguistic data provides an invaluable linguistic benchmark for research on language variation and change in Belize. At the same, interviews document local cultural heritage. Thus, this projects re-imagines sociolinguistic data as cultural patrimony. The primary objectives are: (i) to locate, digitize and preserve legacy sociolinguistic data from Belize; (ii) to create a community-driven digital archive for both online and onsite access; (iii) to repatriate collections; and (iv) to build capacity in community archiving and cultural preservation in Belize.

Current data:  Older Recordings of Belizean Spanish (ORBS): The Hagerty Collection.

  • Interviews recorded on open reels and cassette tapes contain lexical inventories and narratives of Mestizo-Maya folklore and community culture.  Collected by T.W. Hagerty in 1978-79 for dissertation research.

If you have collected data in Belize before 1990 and have an interest in repatriating your collection, please

 
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Mapping language in Belize:

Towards a National Model for Language Revitalization and Preservation

Assesses real-time vitality of Belize’s languages by tapping into proficiency and current patterns of use. These data will be used to develop models and corresponding priorities for preservation, retrieval and revitalization of Belize's languages. (a collaboration with the Institute for Social and Cultural Research)

 

Corpora

Belizean Spanish, English and Kriol Corpus of spontaneous discourse (BSEK)

  • Sociolinguistic interviews with native speakers of Northern Belizean Spanish and Western Belizean Spanish

Fuller Medina, N. (2016) Language mixing in northern and western Belize: A variationist comparative approach. Doctoral dissertation. University of Ottawa, Canada

Older Recordings of Belizean Varieties of Spanish: Hagerty Collection (ORBS)

  • Sociolinguistic interviews with native speakers of Northern Belizean Spanish and Western Belizean Spanish. Collected by T.W. Hagerty in 1978-79

Hagerty, T.W. (1979). A phonological Analysis of the Spanish of Belize. Doctoral dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles, California

Fuller Medina, N. (2018). “Sociolinguistic data as cultural patrimony: challenges, solutions and lessons learned in the preservation of legacy data” Caribbean Studies Forum, University of Belize. March 4-11.

Bilingual Verbs in Belizean Spanish (BVBS)

  • Data collected via grammaticality judgment tasks and picture elicitation task

Fuller Medina, N. (2005) El uso de hacer como estrategia de préstamo: La perífrasis ‘hacer +V’ en el español beliceño. Master’s thesis. University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

 

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