Afro-Bolivian Yungueño Spanish.

One of the least-known Afro-Hispanic speech communities is found in a few small villages in Bolivia. The region is the Yungas, tropical valleys surrounded by the Bolivian highlands to the northeast of La Paz.  Afro-Yungueño Spanish differs systematically and significantly from any other variety of Bolivian Spanish, and from any natively spoken Spanish dialect elsewhere in the world. Afro-Yungueño data provide a window into early colonial Afro-Hispanic speech, as well as offering a possible model for the retention of post-bozal linguistic traits in other geographically and socially isolated Afro-Hispanic communities.

Systematic grammatical differences between Afro-Bolivian Spanish and other Spanish varieties worldwide (including the local non-Afro Bolivian dialects):



These significant grammatical features, together with a radically altered phonetic/phonological system, demonstrate that traditional Afro-Bolivian speech is not really a “dialect” of Spanish but rather a restructured semi-creole language, as different from Spanish as, e.g. some Asturian and Aragonese dialects.


My research in Bolivia has been partially supported by grants from the Africana Research Center at Penn State and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.



Dialect sample

Representative publications: