Palenquero

Palenquero (“Lengua”) is used actively on a daily basis only in the village of Palenque (also known as San Basilio de Palenque), where it co-exists with Caribbean Spanish. Prior to its recent revival (around the year 2000), the creole was generally shunned by younger generations. Occasionally, Palenquero can also be heard in the nearby city of Cartagena, and the more distant Barranquilla, where about half of the total population of Palenqueros have been residing for many decades. To date, Palenquero remains a mostly oral language. Written Palenquero (used locally in school) has emerged during this millennium; agreed upon spelling conventions do not exist yet.

Traditionally, Palenquero tended to be confined to in-group situations, so much so that the language was generally not spoken in front of outsiders. Around the year 2000, changing local and regional attitudes began to reduce the heavy stigma once attached to Lengua, and as a result Palenqueros now feel far more comfortable speaking their local lect in front of outsiders (the recent fame of Palenque has generated a substantial amount of local academic tourism —both national and international—, which has greatly increased contact with the outside world).

As argued in Schwegler (2001), prior to the year 2000, in Palenque there used to be no apparent lectal differences (basilect, mesolect or acrolect). In this small speech community, old and young bilinguals employed a virtually identical creole grammar, that is, there was no continuum, no “in-between” in terms of lects. This situation appears to have changed since then, as some of the younger generations may be employing a somewhat restructured variety of the creole as their main lect. However, to date no extensive study of current Palenquero has been undertaken (but see Lipski 2012), and it remains to be seen whether the recent adaptations by Palenquero youths will stabilize and have a long-lasting effect. The Palenquero data collected for the APiCS (default lect) are all from the traditional (older) lect.

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No. Feature Value % Details Source
No. Feature Value % Details Source

Consonants

bilabial
labiodental
dental
dental/alveolar
dental/alveolar
affricate
palato-alveolar
retroflex
palatal
velar
labial-velar
uvular
glottal
plosive/affricatepbtdt͡sd͡zt͡ʃd͡ʒʈɖcɟkgk͡pg͡bqʔ
aspirated plosive/affricatet͡sʰt͡ʃʰ
glottalized stop/affricateɓt͡sʼt͡ʃʼ
nasalmnɳɲŋ
trill, tap or flaprɾ
fricativeɸβfvθðszʃʒxɣχh
lateral/approximantɬlɭjw

Vowels

frontnear-frontcentralnear-backback
high
higher-mid
mid
lower-mid
low

Special segments

labialized voiceless velar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
mbprenasalized voiced bilabial plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
n:geminate dental/alveolar nasal - Exists (as a major allophone)
ⁿdprenasalized voiced dental/alveolar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
ŋgprenasalized voiced velar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiced dental/alveolar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiced bilabial plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiced velar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiced bilabial nasal - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiced lateral approximant - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiceless dental/alveolar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiceless bilabial plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)
geminate voiceless velar plosive - Exists (as a major allophone)

Legend

 Exists (as a major allophone)
 Exists only as a minor allophone
 Exists only in loanwords
 Does not exist
No. Feature Value % Details Source