Tracing the sources of the Andean Spanish gerund

John M. Lipski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In Quechua-dominant Spanish interlanguage in the Andean region the gerund is frequently found instead of finite verb forms typical of monolingual Spanish. Using data collected among Quichua-Spanish bilinguals in northern Ecuador, this study challenges claims that direct transfer of the Quichua subordinator-s(h)pa-often called a "gerund"-is the immediate source of the Andean Spanish gerund. Quichua-dominant bilinguals produce Spanish gerunds mostly in subordinate clauses, reflecting the general pattern of Quechua. However, in a Quichua-to-Spanish translation task,-shpa was most frequently translated as a gerund by school children who had received Quichua language classes, and least frequently by traditional Quichua-dominant speakers. An examination of historical documents suggests that the gerund was used in Spanish foreigner talk directed at indigenous speakers. The ultimate source of the-s(h)pa = Spanish gerund equation is traced to 16th and 17th century Quechua grammars written in the Latinate tradition, and to Spanish priests' and missionaries' (mis)appropriation of this grammatical interpretation in their interaction with indigenous speakers in the Andean zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-260
Number of pages34
JournalSpanish in Context
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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