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CANARY ISLANDERS ABROAD

The frequent emigration of Canary Islanders over the past four centuries resulted in numerous transplanted Canarian communities throughout North and South America. Linguistic traces of Canary Island Spanish continue to persist in the Caribbean, particularly in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. During the course of the 18th century, Spain sent large numbers of settlers from the Canary Islands to hold the line against French incursions at the western edge of the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. The significant proportion of Canary Islanders in rural western regions and also in the capital city may account for some of the features of Dominican Spanish, particularly the use of non-inverted questions. Golibart (1976) believes that vocalization of syllable-final /s/ and /r/ (e.g. mujer > mujei, carta > caita, algo > aigo) in the northern Cibao region of the

Dominican Republic is of Canary Island origin, although this pronunciation is very rare in contemporary Canary Spanish. Megenney (1990a: 80f.) hints at an African origin for the same pronunciation. Few other areas of Latin America have ever manifestated this phenomenon. Puerto Rican jíbaro speech of the 19th century apparently had this trait, now absent in all Puerto Rican dialects (Alvarez Nazario 1990: 80f.). Vocalization of liquids was also prevalent among the negros curros of 19th century Cuba, free blacks living in Havana who adopted a distinctive manner of speaking (Bachiller y Morales 1883, Ortiz 1986), more related to Andalusian than to Afro-Hispanic patterns. It is thus possible that vocalization of liquids was once more common in many Spanish-speaking regions, being now reduced to a few small areas. Granda (1991) believes that liquid vocalization is due primarily to sociolinguistic marginality, rather than to substrate influences.

In Cuba, immigration from Spain was especially heavy in the second half of the 19th century, particularly from Galicia/Asturias and the Canary Islands. Canarian immigration peaked in the first decades of the 20th century, and was responsible for a not inconsiderable amount of linguistic transfer between the two territories. So concentrated was Spanish immigration that Cubans began to refer to all Spaniards from the Peninsula as gallegos `Galicians,' and to the Canary Islanders as isleños `islanders.' Alvarez Nazario (1972) gives an overview of the Canary Island influence on Puerto Rican Spanish.

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