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Sociolinguistics Symposium 19: Language and the City

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19

Freie Universität Berlin | August 21-24, 2012

Programme: accepted abstracts

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Abstract ID: 235

Part of Session 120: Sociolinguists on Facebook on the Indigenous Languages in the City (Other abstracts in this session)

Hierarchical Relations among Women in the Southern Andes

Authors: Huayhua-Curse, Margarita
Submitted by: Huayhua Curse, Margarita (Rutgers University, United States of America)

In the southern Andes, large numbers of people still speak indigenous languages such as Quechua, spoken by approximately 95% of the rural population of Southern Peru. In this context, many assume that by speaking Quechua, government officials will improve communication with first-language speakers of Quechua. I suggest that even when they speak Quechua as a second language, their language use reinforces the hierarchy between women who work for the government and women who speak Quechua as a first language. Put another way bilingual speakers—women and men—resort not only to Spanish, but to Quechua to perpetuate forms of domination that stereotype monolingual speakers as worthless or as lacking reason, for example to coerce them to use specific methods of contraception. These processes are played out through social categories that essentialize cultural differences and are mapped onto people.  Speaking Quechua as a second language does not help to reduce production of hierarchy among women, because such practices emerge in everyday interactions below the threshold of awareness of the participants, be they bilingual or monolingual. I draw examples from social interaction in a clinical setting, and Quechua-speaking households.

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