Marina A. Kossarik
Moscow State University, Russian Federation


The article proposes a new interpretation of B. de Aldrete’s treatise “Del origen y principio de la lengua castellana o romance que oi se usa en España” as an early piece of sociolinguistic (rather than purely historical-linguistic) thought. The fact that the Renaissance philologist privileges the external history of the Spanish language shows that for the XVI–XVII century Spain sociolinguistic issues like language policy — on the Iberian peninsula as well as overseas — were of crucial importance. Aldrete draws on the example of Roman Empire’s language policy: throughout the treatise he points out to similarities between the two empires, Roman and Spanish. The description of all the stages of Spanish history (Roman province, Visigothic kingdom, Arabic conquest, the Reconquista, and, finally, Spain as a national state) shows how Aldrete was trying to assess, albeit empirically, the main features of the corresponding sociolinguistic concepts and processes: multilingualism; diglossia; delimitation of Ibero-Romance language areas; means of achieving monolingualism; the arise of concepts like “mothertongue”, “native language”, “national language”, “official (state) language”; properties and functions of a national literary language; functional, social, territorial parameters of language variation. Sociolinguistic awareness is also evident in the way Aldrete describes features of morphology and lexis.

Keywords: sociolinguistics, language policy, sociolinguistic situation, language variation, linguistic historiography, Romance languages, Spanish language

For citation: Kossarik M.A. at the origins of sociolinguistics – tract by B. de Aldrete (1606). Sociolinguistics, 2020, no. 4(4) [online], pp. 186–197. (In Russ.)