This book applies recent theoretical insights to trace the development of Castilian and Latin American Spanish from the Middle Ages onwards, through processes of repeated dialect mixing both within the Iberian Peninsula and in the New World. The author contends that it was this frequent mixing which caused Castilian to evolve more rapidly than other varieties of Hispano-Romance, and which rendered Spanish particularly subject to levelling of its linguistic irregularities and to simplification of its structures. These two processes continued as the language extended into and across the Americas. These processes are viewed in the context of the Hispano-Romance dialect continuum, which includes Galician, Portuguese and Catalan, as well as New World varieties. The book emphasises the subtlety and seamlessness of language variation, both geographical and social, and the impossibility of defining strict boundaries between varieties. Its conclusions will be relevant both to Hispanists and to historical sociolinguists more generally.
' ... a concise review and exposition of yet another intensely studied area of Hispanic linguistics ... an indispensable resource for students and scholars alike. A unique contribution to the body of literature on Hispanic dialectology.' Journal of Sociolinguistics 'Penny's book would serve students of dialectology or history of the Spanish language equally well. Philologists will find a wealth of dialectal information not normally presented with the traditional historical topics, and sociolinguists will benefit from the historical perspectives. Put quite simply, Penny's book is the most linguistically accurate account we have to date for the development of the Spanish language in all of its diversity, a distinct service to the field.' Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 'The book will soon become an indispensable classic, being a much-needed overview written by probably the only expert with the necessary combination of talents. And it is so accessibly written, with clearly organized and self-contained sections, that the interested non-specialist will also be fascinated and intrigued.' Hispanic Research Journal 'Overall, it is impressive to see how the multiplicity of theoretical insights in linguistics can so perfectly accommodate other languages. Acquiring a copy of this book is like having many linguistics books at the same time.' Forum for Modern Language Studies ' ... an extremely valuable contribution to Spanish linguistics in general.' Modern Language Review