'Black Spanish' Speech as Ethnic Identity in Afro-Colombian Poetry: The Case of Candelario Obeso
Porras, Jorge E., The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)
The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the poetic discourse of Afro-Colombian writer Candelario Obeso, as exhibited in his Cantos populares de mi tierra (Popular chants of my homeland, henceforth Cantos). The approach taken in this paper is both linguistic and socio-ethnic. Thus, it describes relevant 'Black Spanish' (i.e., Afro- Hispanic) linguistic features, along with extra-linguistic entities naturally associated with ethnic, social;, and cultural characteristics . It is shown that Obeso's poetic discourse appears to be a peculiar speech form of Afro-vernacular Spanish. It will be also shown that the author makes use of this linguistic modality in order to express ethnic identity and as a reaction against linguistic and cultural discrimination during post-Colonial Latin America.
Research Word(s): Black Spanish, Afro-vernacular speech, socio-ethno-linguistic, literary imitations, identity.
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This paper presents a linguistic as well as a socio-ethnic analysis of Afro-Colombian poet Candelario Obeso's Cantos populares de mi tierra (Popular chants of my homeland, henceforth Cantos). Thus, it describes relevant 'Black Spanish' (i.e., Afro-Hispanic) linguistic features, along with extra-linguistic entities naturally associated with ethnic, social;, and cultural characteristics .
The paper has two purposes, one general and one specific. The general, purpose is to show that socio-cultural entities such as ethnic identity and race, group membership, and stigma/ prestige formation are working concepts that may be reflected on literary discourse in terms of socio-ethno-linguistic variables. Such variables, however, are not reflected in the same way, as will be shown in the literary discourse of other Afro- Colombian writers.
The specific purpose of this paper is to account for the linguistic structure of 'Black Spanish,' as exhibited in Cantos, and to show that Obeso's poetic discourse appears to be a peculiar speech form of Afro-vernacular Spanish. It will be also shown that the author makes use of this linguistic modality in order, first, to reflect his ethnic identity and, secondly, to react against linguistic, racial, and cultural prejudice and, thirdly, to foster positive attitudes toward prestige formation in Afro-Hispanic traditions.
The Afro-Colombian poet, Candelario Obeso (Mompox, 1849-1884), was an erudite, prolific, yet polemic writer, who lived intensely and underwent an early, tragic death. In fact, known as the founder of "Black poetry" in Colombia (Prescott 1985), Obeso lived in poverty, his life marked by frustrated romance events and various personal conflicts. Yet, he met remarkable goals, such as becoming an engineer, a military, an educator, a journalist and, even, a politician, not mention the fact that he was a successful writer. Not only he was a dedicated studious of Spanish grammar, but also knowledgeable in several languages; he translated Shakespeare's Othelo, and works from Victor Hugo, Byron, Musset, and Longfellow, among others. He wrote poetry as well as prose (e.g., drama, comedy, and novel), at a time when Black writing was nearly unknown or unappreciated. Moreover, vernacular literature and cultural production was signaled by anachronism and prejudice, mostly fashionable imitations of European streamline. (Bolaños 2004).
Obeso pioneered a new vein by exploring and praising regional culture and vernacular art and language, as opposed to standard usage. Obeso reached out in search of his ethnic identity, thus he exalted Afro-descended traditions and regional folklore (Jáuregui 2000). In fact, what Obeso reacted against was 19th century Colombian racial, cultural, and linguistic anachronism, by writing in Black (vernacular) dialect, a regional Afro-Hispanic speech that gave a peculiar style to his poetry (Porras 2007).
To this …
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Publication information: Article title: 'Black Spanish' Speech as Ethnic Identity in Afro-Colombian Poetry: The Case of Candelario Obeso. Contributors: Porras, Jorge E. - Author. Journal title: The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online). Volume: 4. Issue: 5 Publication date: September 2011. Page number: 262+. © Itabari Zulu Dec 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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