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An Ethnolinguistic Approach to the Interplay of Language and Thought: the Development of Negation in Huaraz Quechua (Ancash, Peru)

Abstract

My doctoral project focuses on negation in Huaraz Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in Peru by about 300,000 people, which belongs to the Quechua language family spoken in the Andes of South America.

So far the phenomenon of negation hasn’t received much attention in Quechua. The focus has been restricted to verbal negation, often described as a cooccurance of two negative morphemes: a negative particle mana and a negative suffix -tsu. But Quechua negation is much more complicated than this and the Spanish influence also plays a role. Spanish constructions have been integrated in the Huaraz Quechua syntax: in some cases replacing the Quechua negative morphemes, in other cases coexisting with them.
Moreover, verbal double negation is not obligatory: there are cases with a single negative morpheme, cases with three morphemes and also cases with three morphemes together with an inherently semantic negative verb. In addition, besides verbal negation, other ways of expressing negation, such as nominal negation, negative indefinites, negative coordination and subordination, negative questions and privative suffixes still have to be analyzed.
A recent linguistic theory, functional typology, gives emphasis to the constantly changing nature of language and focuses on its diachronical and interactional aspects. Functional typology emphasizes that not only language internal factors but factors concerning the communicative purposes of the speakers as well as interactions with other languages are liable to influence the field of negation. This approach seems particularly adequate for research of the situation in Peru’s Central Ancash Department where monolingual Quechua speakers live together with bilingual Quechua-Spanish speakers and monolingual Spanish speakers. The fact that the high prestige of the Spanish culture and language is strongly dominating in the Andean area is provoking a feeling of shame and inferiority between the monolingual Quechua speakers. For this reason, the Spanish influence at the discourse level has increased a lot in the last decades, producing interesting phenomena of code-switching.

The aim of my doctoral project is to depict the development of the phenomenon of negation in Huaraz Quechua in the last forty years, comparing Quechua texts from the 1970s and spontaneous speech collected during field research. The last forty years, indeed, have been one of particular linguistic change due to the change of language policies and rural-urban migration. With this diachronic approach, I will improve the knowledge of communicative processes in contexts of long terms interaction between Quechua and Spanish speakers which dominate in the Andean area. Furthermore, I will contribute to the understanding of the diverse ways of the expression of negation in languages and also improve knowledge of the Quechua grammar.