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Kalunga: An Afro-Brazilian Portuguese Variety

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesis

This is a study about Kalunga Portuguese, a language variety spoken in an African-Brazilian community in Goiás, in the Central West region of Brazil. It is an article-based dissertation consisting of an introductory chapter and three articles. The three articles deal with i) the socio-historical background and a brief description of the Kalunga language, ii) the relationship between Kalunga and other Portuguese language varieties, and iii) an analysis of one particular linguistic phenomenon in Kalunga language, namely, negation. The study as a whole describes and analyses general and specific linguistic aspects of this language variety and accounts for its sociolinguistic situation. This is a multi-disciplinary study that includes linguistic disciplines such as contact linguistics, historical linguistics, functionalist typology, creole studies/creolistics, sociolinguistics, and descriptive linguistics. It compares Kalunga Portuguese with other Portuguese varieties in Brazil, Africa and Europe, as well as with Atlantic Portuguese-based creoles. The study uses data from three main sources: i) a spoken language corpus, the data for which were collected during ethnolinguistic fieldwork for Kalunga, Barreirão and São João D’Aliança Portuguese varieties spoken in Goiás, ii) a data set based on surveys for eleven Portuguese varieties and five Portuguese-based creoles, and iii) a historical corpus data on Portuguese with texts written between the 14th and 20th centuries. The analysis combines qualitative and quantitative analyses, including computational methods, and takes both a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. The results show that Kalunga is an Afro-Brazilian Portuguese variety that is typologically very different from Standard Brazilian Portuguese. Compared with varieties of Portuguese and Portuguese-based creoles, Kalunga Portuguese shares more features with the Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese varieties than with standard varieties and creole languages as a group, and, generally, Kalunga shares more features with creoles than with standard varieties. A more language-specific analysis of Kalunga data shows that there are a number of particular features in Kalunga that can be classified as either linguistic innovations or as linguistic remnants from older stages of the Portuguese language. The investigation on negation suggests that some negation phenomena in Kalunga are the result of grammaticalisation processes that are common among contact varieties, and uncommon elsewhere. This study contributes to Portuguese dialectology with a collection of data and description of non-described vernacular Brazilian Portuguese varieties spoken in isolated African Brazilian communities and rural areas, to contact linguistics by describing, analysing and comparing different types of contact varieties, and to historical linguistics with the investigation of language change with focus on innovation and retention, using historical texts. Furthermore, this study collects data from different sources and uses complementary methods and approaches to analyse the data, investigating Kalunga language variety from multiple methodological perspectives. Besides including Kalunga on the linguistic map, this study also contributes to the recognition and reinforcement of minority groups in the Brazilian context, and to the awareness of the multilingual context that is present in Brazil.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherAarhus University
Number of pages249
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

PhD forsvar november 2019

    Research areas

  • Kalunga, Brazilian Portuguese

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