Indexing costeñol

Metapragmatic discourse on Colombian costeño Spanish in popular telenovelas


  • Padraic Michael Quinn Universidad del Magdalena



Colombian costeño Spanish, discourse markers, indexicality, language ideologies, metapragmatic discourse, telenovelas


This paper explores metapragmatic discourse of professionals in the Colombian telenovela industry on how the Colombian costeño ‘coastal inhabitant’ macrodialect is perceived to be represented in popular Colombian telenovelas ‘soap operas’. Using this discourse as a point of departure, I propose certain discourse markers (DMs) have become so salient as to be third-order indexicals of costeño speech and identity in the Colombian social imaginary. Data is obtained from thirty extended qualitative interviews held with both costeño (16) and cachaco ‘inland area’ (14) actors, producers, script writers, voice coaches and a director, as well as 14 hours of participant observation. Findings suggest that ajá, eche, hombe, nojoda and erda resonate as being ‘stereotypically costeño’ discourse markers, resulting in questions on the significance of representation of variety in popular fictional television and the role of cachacos ‘inland inhabitants’ in the creation of this fictional ‘imaginary’, shedding light on an important yet understudied sociolinguistic context. 

Author Biography

Padraic Michael Quinn, Universidad del Magdalena

Padraic Michael Quinn is a lecturer in linguistics at the Universidad del Magdalena (Colombia). His research interests lie in the domains of sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and pragmatics, with a particular focus on varieties of Colombian Spanish. His current work is centred on linguistic ideologies of Colombian costeño Spanish speakers, institutional language policy and planning, as well as plurilingual education models in indigenous communities in the Colombian Caribbean. As an early career researcher, the present article represents his first sole-authored publication.  


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How to Cite

Quinn, P. M. (2021). Indexing costeñol: Metapragmatic discourse on Colombian costeño Spanish in popular telenovelas. Sociolinguistic Studies, 15(2-4), 201–221.