Research I: Equatorial Guinea

Improving the visibility of Equatorial Guinea as a Spanish-speaking country

In February 2021, I launched my research project «Improving the visibility of Equatorial Guinea as a Spanish-speaking country», a project generously funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Its main goal is to improve our knowledge of the Spanish language in Equatorial Guinea. Through the collection and analysis of sociolinguistic and dialectological data, we will further be able to question traditional stereotypes and evaluations about the Equatoguinean Spanish, and to elaborate a more accurate classification of this African variety within the Spanish-speaking world. 

Together with Sara Carreira (please read her input below), I travelled to Equatorial Guinea in February 2022. During a research stay of several weeks, we carried out sociolinguistic guideline interviews and a combination of linguistic questionnaires and tests in different parts of Equatorial Guinea: both on the island of Bioko and on the mainland Río Muni.

The interview transcripts will constitute the first modern and digitized corpus of spoken Equatoguinean Spanish. The analysis of specific linguistic features, combined with the results from the tests and questionnaires, will allow us to propose an updated description and classification of the Equatoguinean Spanish and to give an answer to the important question about the internal (diatopic, diastratic, diaphasic, ethnic) homogeneity or diversity of Equatoguinean Spanish. Sociolinguistic analyses on language perception, attitudes and ideologies will give us important insights into the self-positioning of Equatoguineans as Spanish-speakers. Altogether, through our research, we wish to get a more accurate view on Equatorial Guinea’s role within the Global Hispanophone world.

«My name is Sara Carreira and I am doing my PhD within the research project “Improving the visibility of Equatorial Guinea as a Spanish-speaking country”. 

Equatorial Guinea is still a largely unknown country in academic works on the Spanish language. Some important authors in Spanish linguistics, such as Germán de Granda, Antonio Quilis, Celia Casado-Fresnillo and John M. Lipski, have devoted part of their research to Equatorial Guinea. However, modern publications are rare despite the uniqueness of Equatorial Guinea’s history, sociolinguistic situation and language contacts. The main goal of my PhD project is to generate a modern dialectological description of the Spanish of Equatorial Guinea by analyzing sociolinguistic guideline interviews (conducted by Sandra Schlumpf) as well as linguistic tests and questionnaires. 

This description focuses on a selection of linguistic phenomena of the Spanish of Equatorial Guinea mostly on the morphosyntactic level and to a lesser extent on the lexical level. With regard to the first one, prepositional phenomena including the construction “verb of movement + a / en + destiny” and queísmo / dequeísmo are examined. Pronominal phenomena are also analyzed such as the explicit use of the subject personal pronoun; leísmo, laísmo and loísimo; as well as the omission and redundant use of the pronoun of reflexive verbs. On the lexical level, we analyze the use of the verbs oír, entender, comprender, escuchar, enterarse; of the terms castizar and castizo / castiza; and of the words disparar and disparate. Finally, we study the use of the forms of address in the Spanish of Equatorial Guinea.»

Sara Carreira