The Last Echoes of Spanish Louisiana: Observations of the Isleño Spanish Dialect of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana

Andrew Miloshoff, Purdue University Northwest

Description

Just outside the city of New Orleans exists a unique ethnic group referred to as the Isleños or 'islanders' who maintain their own archaic dialect of Spanish along with a select number of customs & traditions established by the Canary Islanders who settled in St. Bernard Parish during the late eighteenth century. This community has subsequently been influenced by local francophone & creolephone populations, along with immigrants from the Spanish mainland & interaction with groups from the Caribbean, to forge their own intriguing identity. Even so, today their language and culture is presently in danger of extinction. The last in-depth investigations of the language were mainly undertaken primarily in the 1990s, before Hurricane Katrina had devastated the region. This research serves to identify the number of Isleños who continue to speak this Spanish dialect & investigates the process of language change occurring in the community. Despite the dialect being in the final stages of language death, this research has uncovered previously undocumented lexical & folkloric elements that remain. The health of the Isleño speaker community in St. Bernard Parish at this time greatly mirrors the health of the community at Ascension & Assumption Parishes during the turn of the century. The Isleño community of St. Bernard remains a valuable part of the cultural heritage of both the United States, the Canary Islands, & mainland Spain.

 
Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

The Last Echoes of Spanish Louisiana: Observations of the Isleño Spanish Dialect of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana

Just outside the city of New Orleans exists a unique ethnic group referred to as the Isleños or 'islanders' who maintain their own archaic dialect of Spanish along with a select number of customs & traditions established by the Canary Islanders who settled in St. Bernard Parish during the late eighteenth century. This community has subsequently been influenced by local francophone & creolephone populations, along with immigrants from the Spanish mainland & interaction with groups from the Caribbean, to forge their own intriguing identity. Even so, today their language and culture is presently in danger of extinction. The last in-depth investigations of the language were mainly undertaken primarily in the 1990s, before Hurricane Katrina had devastated the region. This research serves to identify the number of Isleños who continue to speak this Spanish dialect & investigates the process of language change occurring in the community. Despite the dialect being in the final stages of language death, this research has uncovered previously undocumented lexical & folkloric elements that remain. The health of the Isleño speaker community in St. Bernard Parish at this time greatly mirrors the health of the community at Ascension & Assumption Parishes during the turn of the century. The Isleño community of St. Bernard remains a valuable part of the cultural heritage of both the United States, the Canary Islands, & mainland Spain.