Document Type

Conference Presentation

Publication Date



In the Caribbean Archipelago of San Andres, Colombia, a minority creole language, known as Islander, have coexisted with Colombian Spanish for almost two centuries. However, since the declaration of San Andres island as a free-duty port in 1953, the commercial expansion of the Archipelago has brought about the imposition of Spanish in formal settings (Bartens, 2013), and consequently the preference of Spanish in written visual signs. In contrast, Valenciano (Valencia, Spain), another minority language in contact with Spanish as a national language, seems to enjoy more official recognition in terms of public display of written signs. This study examines the extent to which Islander and Valenciano are represented in the public sphere through the geolocalization of written public signs (Barni & Bagna, 2009) in comparable domains and settings: beaches and urban centers. Over 1200 pictures (N=1244) were geotagged and coded to map the spatial location of the languages occurring publicly, and the specific factors that allowed their distribution in both locations. The analysis shows Islander creole and English clustered into specific locations in the islands of Old Providence and San Andres. Conversely, Spanish seems to be the language of choice in the Archipelago. On the other hand, Valenciano has a more stable situation in terms of public display of written signs in touristic and urban settings. Despite having similar language laws, only Valenciano enjoys greater governmental recognition in the public sphere, a situation that might be emulated in the Archipelago. Additional accounts from public officials also offer an explanation about the implicit language policies of the official institutions and the de facto language practices of the islands. Contrasting these two language contact scenarios could offer potential solutions for the implementation of linguistic policies, and thus, the preservation of the cultural and linguistic heritage of the Islander communities of the Archipelago.


World Languages and Cultures

Publication Title

9th International Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics