Phonological and Cultural Innovations in the Speech of Samoans in Southern California
Bilingualism is a concept that relies on a variety of theoretical constructs, including the notions of “language,” “speakers,” and “community.” Subjecting these key notions to empirical and theoretical challenges, this study applies an anthropological approach to bilingualism's most emblematic phenomenon, code‐switching. Audio‐visual recordings of spontaneous interactions collected in a Samoan community in Southern California are examined. Three phenomena are considered: (1) the routine adoption of kinship terms (Dad and Mom) in Samoan discourse; (2) the “island‐like” status of proper names which are not adapted to the Samoan phonological register called “bad speech” spoken at home; (3) the code‐switching to Samoan words that do have an English equivalent and are associated with church activities. It is argued that these phenomena are indexes of social change, revealing that Samoan parents in the U.S. tend to take the child's point of view and that persons are constructed as less contextualized, more permanent entities.
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