International Journal of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest


John M. Lipski


This essay explores a relatively underrepresented facet of Latin American Spanish, namely dialect contact along national borders. It is well known that Spanish American dialect zones rarely coincide with national boundaries, but also that prevailing dialectal traits often evoke nationalistic sentiments. The extent to which these tendencies interact is explored through a series of vignettes involving speech communities along the borders between nations whose principal (e.g. capital city) dialect traits differ substantially. Among the proposed factors that influence linguistic behavior in border communities are physical and political ease of border crossing, inter-nation economic imbalances, proximity of major urban areas, trans-border indigenous communities, relative proportion of locally-born residents, and historical rivalries and conflicts. In each of the scenarios, variations in the relative importance of these factors yields a different sociolinguistic configuration.