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Beyond Yellow EnglishToward a Linguistic Anthropology of Asian Pacific America$
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Angela Reyes and Adrienne Lo

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327359

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327359.001.0001

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Arbitrating Community Norms

Arbitrating Community Norms

The Use of English Me in Japanese Discourse

(p.175) 11 Arbitrating Community Norms
Beyond Yellow English

Emi Morita

Oxford University Press

Choosing an appropriate self‐reference term from the many possibilities offered by the language is a social competence expected of Japanese speakers, and a way to display their understanding of their social role at a given moment in a given context. Using Silverstein's model of nested indexical orders as an analytical tool, this chapter examines first‐ and second‐generation Japanese Americans' borrowing of the English first person self‐reference term me in their Japanese discourse – something strictly illegitimazed in Japan. Analyzing naturally occurring language use of immigrant communities, this chapter argues that this borrowing is an example of an emergent – and ongoingly transformative – entextualization of possible new community norms. In particular, by examining how the culturally transgressive use of me becomes an increasingly community validated norm when transplanted in American soil, the findings of this chapter make visible the contingent efficacy of a community's validation (or non‐validation) of new forms of language use.

Keywords:   indexical order, Japanese American, borrowing, self‐reference, personal pronouns, community norms

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