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Allochthonous languages, Brazilian Zeeuws, and Dummy Auxiliaries

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Abstract: In the middle of the state of Espirito Santo, Brazil, a group of around 500 Dutch settlers from the province of Zeeland moved in the 1850s with the hopes of agricultural opportunities. 150 years later, with little contact with Holland, and overshadowed not only by Brazilian culture and the Portuguese language, there are a dozen speakers left. Their allochthonous language variety is most severely impacted, however, not by the dominant national language, but by another allochthonous language, namely Pomeranian. In this presentation we will describe our initial efforts to document the variety of Brazilian Zeeuws both in terms of its sociolinguistic and historical development, as well as its structural properties, and focus on its increasing use of dummy auxiliaries, a phenomenon that parallels the rise of do-support in many Germanic varieties but has no clear historical source in the variety in question and is therefore likely either a contact phenomenon or an spontaneous innovation.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Endangered Languages and Cultures Group series.

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