What you hear is (not always) what you get: Subjects and verbs among receptive Palenquero-Spanish bilinguals

John M. Lipski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The present study offers data from native Spanish speakers who possess receptive competence in Palenquero, a Spanish-lexified creole spoken in the Afro-Colombian village of San Basilio de Palenque. Until recently Palenquero was endangered, but language revitalization activities are now underway in Palenque. These efforts are resulting in young L2 Palenquero speakers and receptive bilinguals, who do not actively use the language but who are exposed to it within the community and through occasional classes. This study, based on experimental research conducted in Palenque, examines receptive bilinguals' grasp of Palenquero subject-verb structures as a demonstration of how the divergence between active and receptive bilinguals' grammars can go undetected within the speech community. Receptive bilinguals sometimes produce referential null subjects instead of overt pronouns even in the absence of other disambiguating cues. Receptive bilinguals also do not systematically differentiate Palenquero pre-verbal particles, in a fashion suggestive of a maximally simplified subject-verb configuration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-350
Number of pages36
JournalLinguistic Approaches to Bilingualism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 3 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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