9720 - Missionaries and their Maya proxies: Doctrinal K¿iche¿ and its influence on Awakatek discourse

This paper will examine the influence of K’iche’ pastoral registers on Awakatek discourse. Although both languages are Mayan, the structural and lexical differences are substantial rendering them mutually intelligible. K’iche’ is the most emblematic K’iche’an language, while Awakatek is a distantly related Mamean language. Although in contact for many years the social history of this process is not well known. Nevertheless, Awakatek shows substantial lexical and structural influence from K’iche’an. The domains involved include politeness expressions, doctrinal language and even marked syntactic features, such as focus agent constructions. Based on the analysis of oral narratives collected in June of 2011, I will attempt to ascertain the discursive context for borrowing and will present a sequence for the diachronic ordering of contact episodes. I will argue that doctrinal registers of K’iche’, first introduced in the western highlands of Guatemala early in the third decade of the 16th century, played an important role in the emergence of similar registers in Awakatek. I will show that such linguistic influence was not restricted to the aftermath of the Spanish invasion, but was probably much older as attested in shared structural features absent in other Mamean languages

Keywords: Mayan, language contact, Christianity

Author: Sergio, Romero (Vanderbilt University, United States of America)


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