Searching for the sociolinguistic history of Afro-Panamanian Congo speech

John M. Lipski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Among the surviving Afro-Hispanic linguistic manifestations, one of the most difficult to trace historically is the speech of the Congos of Panama's Caribbean coast, who maintain a series of folkloric manifestations occurring during Carnival season that includes a special language. According to oral tradition, Congo speech was devised among captive and maroon Africans in colonial Panama as a means of hiding their speech from their colonial masters. Putting together the contemporary variation in Congo speech and what diachronic developments can be extrapolated, a complex picture emerges that cannot be easily resolved with the notion that this dialect developed exclusively as a cryptolect in contact with Spanish colonists. The present study offers a plausible scenario, based on synchronic variation and available historical documentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpanish Socio-Historical Linguistics. Isolation and contact
EditorsWhitney Chappell, Bridget Drinka
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789027259950
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Historical Sociolinguistics
ISSN (Print)2214-1057

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Communication


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