From: Lisbeth Philip <lphiliployno.edu>
Subject: The Role of Social Networks on Language Maintenance and on Language Shift: Focusing on the Afro-Costa Rican women in two bilingual communities in the Province of Limon, Costa Rica
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Institution: Tulane University
Program: Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011
Author: Lisbeth Andrea Philip
Dissertation Title: The Role of Social Networks on Language Maintenance and on Language Shift: Focusing on the Afro-Costa Rican women in two bilingual communities in the Province of Limon, Costa Rica
Judie M Maxwell
Olanike O Orie
This study compares traditional methods of sociolinguistic analysis to
Milroy's (1987) theory of social network analysis to analyze language
maintenance and shift (LMLS) in a group of 127 Afro-Costa Rican women in
two bilingual (Spanish-English) communities, Puerto Limón and Siquirres, in
the province of Limón, Costa Rica. Since the publication of Milroy's work,
a more recent trend has been to determine whether relationships among
individuals exert normative pressures that affect their choice to maintain
or alter the standard linguistic practices of their community. This study
situates itself within this trend and so attempts to determine whether
social network organization explains LMLS better than traditional methods
of sociolinguistic analysis. This objective is accomplished by applying
each approach to analyze LMLS of the English spoken by the sample of
Afro-Costa Rican women and their maintenance of four Creole phonological
variables. The traditional sociolinguistic method of analysis is
implemented by the examination of data collected through a questionnaire,
complemented by interviews. Milroy's theory is implemented by delineating
the network structure of the participants through the types of relations
that bind them in order to define a measure of multiplexity and thus
centrality. Both approaches were also applied to the examination of
phonological variables based on the narration of 104 (of the 127) women of
a picture story-task. The data suggest that traditional sociolinguistic
analysis is more reliable in explaining factors associated with LMLS than
the social network approach. The latter did not prove useful in explaining
patterns of language behavior as norm enforcement mechanisms in the
maintenance of the linguistic practices of the members in the network.
Neither traditional methods of sociolinguistic analysis nor the social
network model were associated with the maintenance of the phonological
features of the Creole variety.
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