Does Zamboanga Chavacano have its Own Idiomatic Expressions? A Preliminary Analysis

Author Information

Gefilloyd L. De Castro,
Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology, the Philippines

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.3-2
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022


A lexifier contributes largely to the vocabulary of pidgin and creole languages, while the substrates or adstrates influence their grammar (Crowley 1997); however, evidence that accounts for idiomatic expressions is relatively scanty and shows that idioms are likely to be adopted from the lexifier, especially if the pidgin or creole maintains contact with its lexifier (Todd and Mühlhäusler 1978). Until now, no study has addressed the idiomatic expressions in Zamboanga Chavacano (ZC), an active Spanish-based creole language in the Philippines.

Hence, this paper accounts for idiomatic expressions in ZC through their contrast with the lexifier, and draws on discussions with speakers of the adstrates. Grounded in my preliminary analysis, I note that ZC has a number of idiomatic expressions unique to the language, and hence not adopted from the lexifier nor from any of the adstrates. These idiomatic expressions are culturally related, reflecting the lifeworlds of the speakers. Other idiomatic expressions show mixed adaptation in that, while many of the expressions are Spanish-lexified, the meaning is adopted from adstrates in view of the fact that there continues to be language contact between ZC and these adstrates. Body parts, food, and animals, among others, are used in the idiomatic expressions.

Keywords: Chavacano, creole, idiomatic expressions, Zamboanga, linguistic anthropology


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