BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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Guam English: Emergence, Development and Variation

Kuske, Eva Anina (2019). Guam English: Emergence, Development and Variation. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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This dissertation explores the emergence, development and internal variation of the English variety spoken in Guam. The island located in the North-Western Pacific Ocean has a diverse colonial past, with each colonial ruler (Spain, the U.S. and briefly Japan) enforcing their national language on the inhabitants. As a result of ongoing close contact to the most recent colonial power, the U.S., the inhabitants have undergone a shift from speaking their indigenous language, Chamorro, as a first language to speaking English (almost) monolingually. This shift was likely promoted by language policies making English an official language to be used in the government and in education, the high presence of American media, but also a change toward positive attitudes regarding the language of the colonizer. It was particularly the WWII-generations that regarded English as the vehicle for economic success and decided to raise their children in English. Although the socio-historic circumstances that likely led to this shift in language use have been well-documented, no research describes the influence of these changes on Guam English. I intend to bridge this gap in research by providing a general linguistic description of Guam English, as well as a more detailed analysis of the short front vowels KIT, DRESS and TRAP, including developmental patterns and inter-speaker variation. I employ the apparent time model, analyzing approximately 45 min long sociolinguistic interviews. The corpus includes 89 socially stratified Guam locals, males and females of different levels of education, ranging in age from 16 to 91 of three ethnic groups, Chamorros, Filipinos and Caucasians. A special focus is put on the indigenous community, the Chamorros, for the analysis of the short front vowels. I find that the language shift from the indigenous language to English is reflected in the phonological, morpho-syntactic and lexical structure of Guam English: while the oldest segment of the population, locally referred to as the Manåmko’, speaks English as a second language and shows a multitude of substrate language influence, the younger generations not only lack a majority of those substrate-related features, but show developmental tendencies toward the variety of their colonial power, the U.S. This includes the use of more standardized features, but also signs of convergence toward a regional, ethnic variety of American English. The latter development is noticeable in a range of linguistic features that younger Guam English speakers share with regional or ethnic communities of the U.S. mainland: Realizations of the short front vowels KIT, DRESS and TRAP resemble that of ethnic California speakers. KIT and DRESS are retracting in apparent time and TRAP remains in its low-back position, lacking a clear nasal split. Though Guam’s English-speaking community generally follows those generational tendencies, there is much internal variation, as the population is stratified in regards to their ethnicity and educational backgrounds. A broad spectrum of acrolectal and basilectal speech is found in all age groups. With this research, I hope to shed light on a previously under-researched variety of English that emerged as a result of colonial contact to the U.S. In describing the variety in detail, I am able to compare it to the developmental trajectories of other World Englishes. This includes positioning Guam English in various models suggested by scholars, such as Schneider’s (2007) Dynamic Model, to better systematize developmental patterns of World Englishes. In this regard, previous research has mainly focused on Britain as a linguistically influential colonial power, whereas we know very little about Englishes emerging out of colonial contact to the U.S.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Single
Date of Defense: 18 October 2019
Subjects: 400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages
Institute / Center: 06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
Depositing User: Hammer Igor
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2021 08:18
Last Modified: 06 May 2021 16:02

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