LINGUIST List 21.2243
Mon May 17 2010
Diss: Socioling/Lang Acq/Anthro Ling: Divita: 'Acquisiton as ...'
Editor for this issue: Mfon Udoinyang
Acquisition as Becoming: An ethnographic study of multilingual style in 'la Petite Espagne'
Message 1: Acquisition as Becoming: An ethnographic study of multilingual style in 'la Petite Espagne'
From: David Divita <ddivitaberkeley.edu>
Subject: Acquisition as Becoming: An ethnographic study of multilingual style in 'la Petite Espagne'
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Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Program: Romance languages
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010
Author: David Divita
Dissertation Title: Acquisition as Becoming: An ethnographic study of multilingual style in 'la Petite Espagne'
Subject Language(s): French (fra)
To date, most sociolinguistic research on style has attempted to mappatterns of variation at levels of social aggregation that abstract awayfrom the individual. In this dissertation, however, I take the individualas a point of departure, focusing on the ways in which her phenomenalexperiences of a sociolinguistic landscape inform the styles that sheconstructs. To that end, I draw on seven months of ethnographic fieldworkthat I conducted at a social center for Spanish seniors (i.e., people overthe age of 62) in Saint-Denis, France. My research sample is comprised ofwomen, aged 62 to 80, who participated in a wave of female migration fromSpain to Paris during the 1960s to work in a burgeoning domestic serviceindustry in the capital's most affluent neighborhoods. All of them arrivedin France without speaking any French; now, more than 40 years later, theyhave acquired the language to comparable levels of proficiency, but theymake use of their linguistic repertoires in idiosyncratic ways. My projectexplores the origins and expression of this variation as a means of gettingat the subjective dimension of language acquisition and use.
As conceived in this project, language acquisition entails more thanlearning grammatical and lexical forms; it also describes the subjectiveprocess of becoming multilingual. To understand the mechanics of thisprocess, I conducted comparative case studies of three individuals Iobserved in the field, juxtaposing discourse analysis of their language usewith detailed reconstructions of their biographical trajectories. Myanalysis shows that, although these women have acquired French under thesame social and historical conditions, they have done so in variable waysand to variable ends; they now engage differently in multilingual practices(namely, code-switching and bilingual discourse-marking) as a means ofconstructing styles that are both socially intelligible and individuallymarked. Through recourse to poststructuralist sociolinguistic theory, Iillustrate how an individual's experience of a sociolinguistic landscape,as well as her perceptions of those experiences, not only inform the socialmeanings (such as the personae and stances) that she is given to construct,but also the very means through which she constructs meanings. Myinvestigation of style among multilingual subjects underscores the ways inwhich an individual's memories, experiences and ideological associations,accrued over time, inform the linguistic practices in which she now engages.
Page Updated: 17-May-2010