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LINGUIST List 18.2000

Tue Jul 03 2007

Diss: Socioling: Stanford: 'Dialect Contact and Identity: A case st...'

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        1.    James Stanford, Dialect Contact and Identity: A case study of exogamous Sui clans


Message 1: Dialect Contact and Identity: A case study of exogamous Sui clans
Date: 03-Jul-2007
From: James Stanford <stanfordrice.edu>
Subject: Dialect Contact and Identity: A case study of exogamous Sui clans


Institution: Michigan State University
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: James N. Stanford

Dissertation Title: Dialect Contact and Identity: A case study of exogamous Sui clans

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): Sui (swi)
Language Family(ies): Tai-Kadai

Dissertation Director:
Dennis R. Preston

Dissertation Abstract:

This study investigates dialect contact and identity by examining the
systematic patterns of clan contact and immigration found among the
exogamous clans of the Sui people, an ethnic minority concentrated in rural
parts of Guizhou, China. Sui women, men, and children maintain the dialect
features of their home clans to a high degree throughout their lives,
regardless of any later migration and long-term immersion in other clan
dialects. The study concludes that Sui speakers perform linguistic acts of
clan identity that index and maintain their clan memberships. The study
also introduces methodology for 'socio-tonetic' research and provides
progress in variationist sociolinguistic research of indigenous minority
languages, Sui acoustic phonetics and dialectology, and dialect acquisition
research.

In Sui clan exogamy, the wife moves permanently to the husband's village
upon marriage. Since subtle dialect differences can exist between clans,
the wife often has dialect features that differ from the husband's clan.
For example, a woman may use a different 1st person singular pronoun than
her own children and husband, and subtle clan markers are observed in other
words and phonetic features (tones and diphthongs). This study involves
detailed analysis of dialect features of such immigrant married Sui women,
non-immigrant speakers in their original home clans, and children of
immigrant women, as well as ethnographic interviews investigating
community views on dialect and clan identity.

The results show that the immigrant women maintain their home clan dialects
to a very high degree rather than acquiring features of the husband's clan.
For the children of such women, a transition to the exclusive use of the
dialect of the father's clan begins at a young age as they learn about
their linguistic identities through the metalinguistic influence of the
community, and as they are directly exposed to the local clan dialect
features in daily village interactions. Older children and teenagers adhere
more closely to the father's clan dialect, fully acquiring that dialect as
they reach adulthood. For all members of the community, ridicule is the
consequence for use of dialect features that would identify the speaker as
a member of any clan other than that person's father's clan. Further,
children who use the mother's clan dialect features and women who use the
husband's clan dialect features may also be admonished or criticized.

The study concludes that all members of the community -- women, men, and
children -- perform linguistic acts of clan identity that continually
reinforce their clan memberships. In the case of immigrant married women,
such acts of clan identity operate in opposition to an otherwise typical
human tendency for some amount of dialect acquisition in situations of
long-term immersion (as evidenced by a survey of prior dialect acquisition
studies).





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