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Saturday, October 12 • 11:45am - 12:10pm
Lai & Gooden: Socioprosodic variation in Yami: Language ecology, intonation, and identity

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Socioprosodic variation in Yami: Language ecology, intonation, and identity

In contact settings, imbalanced intergroup relations and socioeconomic pressure play critical roles in determining the trajectory of language change. Yami, a moribund indigenous language spoken in Taiwan, is undergoing rapid language shift under significant cultural-economic pressure from Mandarin. In this study, we focused attention on socioprosodic variation in Yami-Mandarin bilingual speech, with a particular emphasis on Yami neutral and statement question intonation.

Given the declining use of Yami, younger Yami-Mandarin bilinguals no longer use it to fulfill communicative needs and Mandarin has permeated the Yami intonation system. The results show that younger speakers (below 40) produced prosodic innovations deviating from traditional forms, and have even “transferred” a new Mandarin question type to Yami. We argue that these hybridities index Yami ethnicity and socio-cultural belonging. Although these speakers reported limited Yami proficiency, their metalinguistic commentary and cultural practices reinforce the suggestion for strong rootedness in indigenous identity.


Li-Fang Lai

Postdoctoral Scholar, The Pennsylvania State University

Shelome Gooden

University of Pittsburgh

Saturday October 12, 2019 11:45am - 12:10pm PDT
EMU Cedar & Spruce
  T: Prosody & tone
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Kaori Idemaru