A Phonological and Identity Analysis of the Interaction between Spanish and Portuguese in Misiones, Argentina

Morgan Kloster Ball State University, Abigail Meneses-Delcompare Ball State University, Savanna Kindley Ball State University, Andie Reidy Ball State University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Colleen Balukas Ball State University
This study examines the phonological (pronunciation) characteristics of Spanish-Portuguese bilinguals in the Misiones province of northeastern Argentina, with a specific focus on the relationship between phonology and speaker identity. Research on language contact situations has revealed that bilingual speakers frequently employ different lexical items and phonological characteristics to perform identities connected with one or the other of their languages (Mendoza-Denton 2008). In the Misiones province, speakers are in the unique situation of speaking both Portuguese and Spanish daily in a variety of private and public contexts: with family, friends, and other community members. Thus, the extent to which language-specific phonological traits might be linked to distinct sociolinguistic identities is unclear. However, given recent changes in the economic and educational realities of Misionero speakers (Lipski 2018), it is possible that normative pressures will have an impact on speakers’ use of the two languages.

Overall, there are relatively few studies of the outcomes of contact between Spanish and Portuguese in the region (see: Sanicky 2008 on /j/ realization and Putnam & Lipski 2016 on Spanish-Portuguese-German speakers), despite its long history of cultural and linguistic pluralism. Thus, the present study aims to contribute to the documentation of this language variety, as well as to deepen the understanding of how bilingual identity connects to language. The data used for this study consist of sociolinguistic interviews collected in Misiones, Argentina with bilingual Spanish-Portuguese speakers who range in age from 18 to 36. This study describes the production of the /b/, /v/, and /s/ sounds, exploring their connection with speaker identity while making comparisons with other examples of contact situations (see: Waltermire 2006 on Uruguayan-Brazilian border speech).


Lipski, J. M. (2018). La interfaz portugués-castellano en Misiones, Argentina: zona de prueba para la alternancia de lenguas [The Castillian-Portuguese interface in Misiones, Argentina: test zone for language alternation]. Estudios Filológicos, 60, 169–190.

Mendoza-Denton, N. (2008). Homegirls. Language and cultural practice among Latina youth gangs. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Putnam, M. T., & Lipski, J. (2016). Null arguments in transitional trilingual grammars: Field observations from Misionero German. Multilingua, 35(1). https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2014-0111

Sanicky, C. (2008). Las variantes de /j/ en Misiones, Argentina: Estudio diacrónico-sincrónico. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 85(5), 599-608. doi:10.3828/bhs.85.5.1

Waltermire, Mark. (2006). Social and Linguistic Correlates of Spanish-Portuguese Bilingualism on the Uruguayan-Brazilian Border. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico dissertation.
Modern Languages, Cultures, & Literatures
Oral Presentation

When & Where

01:30 PM
Jordan Hall 242