Sociolinguistic Studies, Estudios de Sociolingüística 1.1 2000

Phonological and cultural innovations in the speech of Samoans in Southern California

Alessandro Duranti, Jennifer F. Reynolds
Issued Date: 5 Mar 2007


Bilingualism is a concept that critically relies on and interacts with a variety of other theoretical constructs, including the notions of ”language”, ”speakers”, and ”community”. Subjecting these key notions to new empirical and theoretical challenges, this study struggles to invent a new language able to describe what we are learning to see without the faulty presuppositions of earlier labels. This is particularly difficult in the study of what is probably the most emblematic phenomenon of bilingualism, namely, code-switching. Starting from these considerations, this paper examines audio-visual recordings of spontaneous interactions collected during a three year project in a Samoan community in Southern California, with the goal of applying an anthropological approach to code-switching. The paper concentrates on three phenomena: (i) the routine adoption of kinship terms like Dad and Mom in Samoan discourse; (ii) the ”island-like” status of certain proper names which are not adapted to the Samoan phonological register called ”bad speech” spoken at home; (iii) the code-switching to Samoan words that do have an English equivalent and are associated with church activities.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v1.i1.59


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