JOPOL 9(2023)

When ‘civilized’ and ‘savage’ languages meet: Language Ideological Work in 19th Century Travel Accounts on the Ecuadorian Amazon
Silke Jansen & Erika Rosado Valencia

The paper examines the discursive construction of the linguistic panorama of the Ecuadorian Amazon region in the writings of 19th century travelers. We focus primarily on the representation of the Spanish, Kichwa and Sapara languages, and the ways in which these discursive constructions reflect contemporary metalinguistic thought and philological precepts. Special attention is paid to the alleged interrelation of language and thought, which served to draw evolutionary hierarchies between social groups. We frame our analysis in the theoretical proposal of Gal and Irvine (2019), who distinguish three semiotic processes for the ideological construction of social difference: rhematization, erasure, and fractal recursivity.

Keywords: language ideologies, Ecuador, Sapara language, Kichwa language, travel literature, 19th century