Researchers of Colonial Peru have long cast doubt on the Indigenous origin of Spanish colonial writings signed with Indigenous names. While we might never know whether all the ‘indigenous authors’ were indeed indigenous, I present analyses on Spanish practices in colonial legal complaints that show differences in discourse patterns. Complaints are chosen because they constitute a type of discourse that heightens the writer’s subjectivity, and therefore can give insight into the author’s perspective. Using methodologies from Critical Discourse Analysis (cf. van Dijk 2008; Van Leeuwen 2007, 2008), pragmatics, and sociolinguistics, three types of ‘Indigenous documents’ emerge in my corpus. I argue that differences in the narrative patterns strongly point to an Indigenous Voice in some of the documents. The ‘Indigenous’ linguistic practices emerged within two macro functions, expressed grammatically (different from research on lexical ‘translations’ from Quechua, cf. Harrison 2014). The first macro function positions the author as a subaltern individual (stance). The second expresses an Andean perspective pervasive in Andean ontology (evidentiality, Hardman 1986). Whether these stylistic practices are ideologically motivated is not clear (cf. Eckert 2008, 2012). However, an additional example of formulaic phrases suggests a stylistic expression of ‘Indigenous resistance.’
Anna María Escobar is a Full Professor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and ex-Director of CLACS. Her research and teaching are on sociolinguistics and language change in language contact situations. Her publications focus on Spanish in contact with Amerindian languages, particularly on Quechua and the Andean region, but has also published on Spanish in the U.S. and Amazonian Spanish. Her current book project is a diachronic study on the indigenous origins of Peruvian Andean Spanish. She is also co-editor with Salikoko Mufwene (of the U of Chicago) of The Cambridge Handbook of Language Contact (to appear late next year).