Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles

Volume 5 (2014)

Factoring sociolinguistic variation into the history of Indo-Portuguese

Hugo C. Cardoso (Universidade de Lisboa)

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Given that the Portuguese-lexified creoles of South Asia are currently spoken by relatively small and close-knit communities, it is often assumed that little sociolinguistic variation will be found within them and/or that this must have been the case throughout their history. This article, however, explores how modern and earlier (18th-/early-20th-century) descriptions and commentaries on the Indo-Portuguese communities reveal a somewhat stratified linguistic repertoire not unlike that of various other creoles around the world. Based on a survey of sources of different periods and character, I argue that there is good reason to assume a considerable degree of sociolinguistic variation in the Indo- Portuguese communities even when the available sources do not record it, and that failure to do so may compromise the validity of our linguistic studies.

Keywords: Indo-Portuguese creoles, sociolinguistic stratification, variation, diachrony, synchrony