Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
John Lipski

John Lipski

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Spanish and Linguistics


John  Lipski


Research Interests:

My research is primarily focused on language contact involving Spanish and Portuguese and the linguistic consequences of bilingualism, past and present. My current projects include:

A study of the acquisition of the Afro-Hispanic creole language Palenquero (spoken in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia) by speakers of Spanish, its historical lexifier. This project was funded by NSF grant BCS-1357155 “Determining the suppressibility of functional categories in second-language acquisition: from Spanish to Palenquero.”

Spanish-Quechua contact phenomena in the Andean region of Ecuador, including vowel systems, discourse marking, and the use of the mixed (Spanish-Quechua) language known as Media Lengua. This project is funded by NSF grant BCS-1749310 “A limiting case of bilingual language identification: the Quichua-Media Lengua lexicon.”

Spanish-Portuguese language mixing in Spanish-speaking communities just outside the Brazilian border, particularly in Misiones province, Argentina. The resultant (often unconsciously) mixed speech challenges accepted typologies of bilingual language switching, and when compared with language mixing involving increasingly less cognate language pairs (Spanish-Italian, Spanish-English), provides an opportunity for more nuanced analysis of voluntary and involuntary language mixing.

Spanish-English code-switching in the United States, with particular emphasis on the frequently involuntary language-switching among semi-fluent bilinguals, including heritage speakers of Spanish as well as students of Spanish as a second language.

Recent Publications:

(2022) Vocalic phenomena in Andean Spanish dialects. In M. Díaz-Campos (ed.), The Routledge handbook of variationist approaches to Spanish. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 23-35.

(2021). Sibilants in Ecuadoran Spanish. In E. Núnez-Méndez (ed.), Sociolinguistic approaches to sibilant variation in Spanish. London & New York: Routledge, pp. 262-277.

(2021) Trujillo-Falcón, J. E., Bermúdez, O., Negrón-Hernández, K., Lipski, J., Leitman, E., & Berry, K. (2021). Hazardous weather communication en Español: Challenges, current resources, and future practices. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 102(4), E765-E773

(2021). Heritage languages in South America. In S. Montrul and M. Polinsky (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of heritage languages and linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 305-350.

(2021). La parlata afro-italiana e le sue rappresentazioni letterarie nei testi rinascimentali. In Giafranco Salvatore (ed.), Il chiaro e lo scuro. Gli africani nell’Europa del Rinascimento tra realtà e rappresentazione. Lecce: Argo, pp. 91-113.

(2021). Morphological and Syntactical Variation and Change in Latin American Spanish. Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Linguistics;

(2021). Code-Switching Knowledge as Heritage Grammar Attainment: A Case Study. Heritage Language Journal, 18, 1-34. doi:10.1163/15507076-12340017

(2021) La contribución africana a las variedades americanas del español. In E. M. Eckkrammer (ed.), Manual del español en América. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 359-371.

(2021). Searching for the sociolinguistic history of Afro-Panamian Congo speech. Whitney Chappell & Bridget Drinka (eds.), Spanish socio-historical linguistics: isolation and contact (141-162). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

(2021). Language revitalization as L2 shadow-boxing: the case of Palenquero plural-marking. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 43, 220-235.

(2020). Can a bilingual lexicon be sustained by phonotactics alone? evidence from Ecuadoran Quichua and Media Lengua. The Mental Lexicon, 15(2), 330-365

(2020). Equatorial Guinea Spanish non-continuant /d/: more than a generic L2 trait. Rajiv Rao (ed.), Spanish Phonetics and Phonology in Contact: Studies from Africa, the Americas, and Spain (15-31). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

(2020). What you hear is (not always) what you get: subjects and verbs among receptive Palenquero-Spanish bilinguals. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 10(3), 315-350. DOI:

(2020) Pronouns, interrogatives, and Quichua-Media Lengua code-switching: the eyes have it. Languages, 5; doi:10.3390/languages5020011

(2020). Spanish and Palenquero: Language identification through phonological correspondences. Whitney Chappell (Ed.), Recent advances in the study of Spanish sociophonetic perception, 153-185.. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

(2020). Spanish phonological variation. The Routledge handbook of Spanish phonology, ed. Sonia Colina and Fernando Martínez-Gil, 453-467. London: Routledge.