Logotip de la revista Noves SL





Sociolingüística internacional

Analysis of the term ‘pariente’ as a form
of address in the Sikuani community of Puerto Gaitán (Colombia), by John Alexander Roberto Rodríguez


This study can be seen as an empirical ratification of the posture that tends to include sociolinguistics in dialectology. Through it, you can feasibly see how it is deceptive to try and separate the diastratic variations of the diatopes. Likewise, it is easy to recognize the openly critical intent of the social facts that get rid of linguistic analysis, which doesn't cease to be objective because of this, and thus, we place it on the borderline of critical analysis in speech.

3. Methodology

In relation to methodology, a traditional model is kept of the linguistic geography having recognized a reduced number of informants (a total of ten). We used qualitative (observation of spontaneous speech, participative observation) and quantitative methods (interviews, surveys) for the gathering of materials, thus responding to the very nature of the problem based on class relations, that is to say, diastratic courtesy, noticed upon first contact with the Sikuani community that inhabits the area of Puerto Gaitán.

4. Variables

It should be pointed out that the preliminary character of this analysis, due, in part, to the problems in carrying it out such as: i) time spent with the community, ii) certain distrust of the informants toward the researchers, iii) paperwork and red tape for performing surveys and interviews, iv) lack of State support, v) difficulties in accessing the area because of the presence of subversive groups.

5. The Sikuani community and the form of address ‘pariente’

The indigenous communities of the Sikuani ethnic group in Colombia are presently experiencing an accelerated process of the loss of cultural identity due to interethnic contact. Their relationship with the blanco (white man), from whom they try to emulate their life style, has led them to a state of estrangement that is evident in a simultaneous loss of identity and the non-acceptance on the part of 'civilized' groups. Today, the members of the Sikuani community live on the reservations as well as in the towns near them, in the middle of a hostile environment given the nature of their cultural masters and the mistaken class-changing derivation that the colonist masters make. Being Sikuani has ceased to be synonymous with ‘national heritage’ but has turned into a ‘social problem’. Hidden behind that loss of nationalist idiosyncrasy the indigenous population sees itself as an ‘object’ of interest to tourists and mainly researchers that attend different universities. This condition tends to become an economical usufruct through the demands of the authorities (regional and national) to end up forgetting their responsibilities and casually leaving themselves in the hands of the government. In many cases, the land that they have been given is not even used for living on, much less for growing crops or raising livestock, poultry or fish farming. This only demonstrates the damage that the application of foreign models to reality (protectionist policies) has made on a culture with its own characteristics.

The cultural 'alienation’ of the community is expressed in four basic ways in the region of Meta: social, religious, investigative, and political. The cultural alienation is produced by the penetration of colonists with their load of products, bars, festivities, brothels, etc., that is to say, the entire saga of typical daily habits of 'civilized' systems. Secondly, the crude and inconsiderate desire of the catholic and protestant ‘missions’ to increase their number of followers, forcing the community to get rid of their mythological wealth, rituals, and ancient beliefs. On the other hand, one finds the linguistic, anthropological, and other research groups that are not well trained in the methods of identity preservation who come in unprepared and get the information required for their work while stepping all over the autonomy of the communities. Finally, we find the heavy burden of State policies accustomed to solving social problems with the allocation of resources but never establishing a detailed study of the heterogeneous factors that focus on the problem in order to better direct the budget.

Within the main displays of depersonalization we find the marked penetration of commercial values; a change in the type of political-administrative authority which is less and less in the hands of the chief, medicine man, or shaman; a forgetting of cultural traditions such as dances (collective dances are substituted by tropical rhythms), food, drink, attire, fishing and hunting tools; and, in general, material, spiritual, and social acculturation (children leaving home, a change in the role of women...).

"In conclusion, the native that has endured an accelerated process of acculturation and physical persecution is a social misfit, without an identity of any kind. He is no longer tied to the community neither is he accepted by the "civilized" society. As he discovers that society revolves around money and the possession of material goods, he thinks that by obtaining these things, he can manage to erase some of his supposed inferiority and will therefore no longer be treated or seen as a "brute". However, his limited experience in the commercial and financial world just paves the way for being deceived and falling into the traps that are traditionally set by the sectors with which he relates." (Agudelo y Cantor, 1988)


2 de 7