Remixing a mixed language: The emergence of a new pronominal system in Chabacano (Philippine Creole Spanish)

John M. Lipski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In bilingual contact environments, personal pronoun systems are relatively impervious to replacement or borrowing. Several Creole languages contain hybrid personal pronoun paradigms, but the language contact environments that resulted in creolization and mixed pronominal systems are no longer in effect, and the mechanisms of pronominal replacement remain unknown. The present analysis is based on data from Zamboangueño Chabacano, a variety of Philippine Creole Spanish that has already undergone at least one set of pronominal replacements in its history, substituting Spanish-derived plural pronouns with pronouns taken from Philippine languages. Due to recent migration, Zamboangueño Chabacano is now in contact with Tagalog, and younger speakers are incorporating the Tagalog second-person singular respect-neutral pronoun ikaw into the Chabacano system. The insertion of ikaw restores the respectful-respect-neutral pronominal distinction originally present in Spanish and found in Philippine languages but lacking in Chabacano. The ease with which a Tagalog pronoun is entering Chabacano is attributed to long-standing popular views that Zamboangueño Chabacano is already a mixed-up language-often regarded as "broken Spanish"-devoid of its own grammar and therefore readily susceptible to any and all intrusions. The use of ikaw as an in-group marker among Zamboangueño youth further aids the addition of the Tagalog pronoun to the Chabacano paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-478
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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