The Spanish of the Canastero gypsies of Seville: a morpho-syntactic and lexical description
Zingaro, Mary Michelle
Urrutibeheity, Hector N.
Master of Arts
The purpose of the research and analysis of this thesis project has been to describe the dialect of Spanish spoken by a group of canastero gypsies in Seville, Spain. Canastero gypsies are those who lead a marginal existence with regard to Spanish society as a whole; unlike some gypsies who have incorporated themselves into the mainstream of Spanish society, the canasteros still maintain many of the customs of their nomadic forbears. They have no formal education and therefore no literary tradition. (None of those interviewed for this study could read or write.) They are further distinguished by the fact that in the past they had their own language, called caló, which has recently been displaced by Spanish. This dialect (CS) has been described in terms of the. ways in which it varies from Standard peninsular Spanish. The study is divided into three categories: morphology, syntax and lexicon. Topics concerning phonology are dealt with as they relate to each of these categories. The study is based on a corpus made up of on interviews with nine canastero gypsies. A formal questionnaire was not used; rather, the interviews take the form of a spontaneous question-answer session. The interviews were recorded on tape and later transcribed. The transcription is included in the body of the thesis. The most outstanding feature of CS is its rather unique lexicon. The dialect contains a large number of archaic and popular terms, some of which are peculiar to Andalucía. There are also some words which seem to have no place in standard or popular Spanish; these words may be vestiges of calo, CS lexicon has been affected by the same phonetic traits which characterize Andalucian Spanish in general, the most important ones being the aspiration or loss of final /s/ and /z/, the loss of other final consonants especially /d/ and /r/), the loss of intervocalic /d/ and /r/, and the confusion of /!/ and /r/. Many spontaneous phonetic changes characterize CS, particularly haplology and metathesis. Spontaneous phonetic changes of this sort are common in dialects of relatively uneducated people. The morphological system of CS is characterized by the loss of the /s/ in the plural. The plural is instead indicated by aspiration of the /s/ or, less frequently, by the loss of the /s/ and the opening of the final vowel. Other features are: 1) the frequent use of the diminutive, 2) gender changes in nouns, 3) the substitution of los for nos, and 4) occasional lack of gender agreement between pronouns and antecedents. Finally, CS may be said to have a rather imprecise verbal system. Tenses and modes are substituted for one another in a seemingly random fashion; the precise sequential relationship of one event to another must sometimes be gleaned from the context. Redundancy, is another outstanding feature of CS. This includes the redundant use of subject pronouns, double negatives, and extensive repetition of words and phrases. Other syntactic traits are the preferred use of the post-nominal possessive and demonstrative adjectives, the ellipsis of certain prepositions, and the frequent ellipsis of the verb ser.