Tag Archives: borders

Challenges of linguistic data collection in Uruguay

Posted by Madeline Gilbert – PhD student in Linguistics at NYU

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Tile street art in Rivera (yes, this is right-side up!)

I have now been in Uruguay for a bit over a month.  On one hand, it feels like I’ve accomplished quite a bit; on the other hand, there is a lifetime of research to be done here.  In the last blog post I talked a bit about the project itself, which involves looking at the language contact situation on the border between Uruguay and Brazil, site of the famous portuñol, which, in the popular conception, is neither Spanish nor Portuguese but a broken mixture of the two.  In this post, I want to talk a bit about the process of data collection, which is both full of challenges and very rewarding.

First: what kind of data am I collecting?  Because I’m interested in peoples’ use of language in daily life, I’m conducting (and recording) sociolinguistic interviews, asking people to read a word list, and fill out some demographic and language use questionnaires.  The process typically takes about 90 minutes.  Sociolinguistic interviews consist of talking with people about topics like childhood, family, school, hobbies, work, travels, and the like.  The goal is to elicit the most natural speech possible within the context of a recorded conversation.  The word list reflects a more careful speech style and was designed around some linguistic variables. I have reason to think might be interesting to compare between speakers from Rivera and Montevideo.  The demographic forms ask more explicitly about peoples’ linguistic history, places of residence, use of Spanish/Portuguese/other languages, and a little about their attitudes towards these languages.

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“Portuñol”: Spanish and Portuguese Language Contact in Northern Uruguay

Posted by Madeline Gilbert – PhD student in Linguistics at NYU

For two months this summer, I am doing linguistic research in Uruguay. I am splitting my time between Montevideo, the capital, and Rivera, a city that lies on the border between Uruguay and Brazil. The border between Uruguay and Brazil actually runs right through the middle of a city (along a main street), which is called Rivera on the Uruguayan side and Santana do Livramento on the Brazilian side. For all intents and purposes, it’s a single city that happens to have a border running through it.

My main linguistic interests lie in sociolinguistics and phonetics. The former deals with how language reflects and is used within a social structure: who says what, why, and how. The latter focuses on the sounds of human speech. My project here in Uruguay combines elements of both: how does the contact between Spanish and Portuguese on the border between Uruguay and Brazil affect the phonetics Spanish spoken? I’m collecting interviews of casual speech in Montevideo and in Rivera to be able to compare speakers from both regions.

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Mujeres Fronterizas: Putting the Focus on Women of Dajabón, Dominican Republic

By: Amanda Alcantara, MA Candidate at CLACS

When I decided to do research on women in the Dominican-Haitian border, I sought to focus on identity, especifically racial identity. Nothing would prepare me for what I learned, what I saw, the diversity and similarity in the stories of the 25+ women whom I interviewed mostly from Dajabón, Dominican Republic but also from Ouanaminthe, Haiti. The topic of my research was changed by these narratives.

Gloria Anzaldúa writes about borderlands as a place of violence, pain, and una “herida abierta”. She wrote of the border as parallel to her own body as a woman: her body is a place of violence and pain too. The Dominican-Haitian border divided by el Río Masacre—a name that signifies a deep wound still fresh in the elder’s minds—is no different than this. The women of this particular border have their own stories too, their own stories of the type of violence that is very specific to women, and their own stories of resilience.

 

The border entrance from Dajabón to Ouanaminthe.

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