Wayfinding in Pacific linguascapes : negotiating Tokelau linguistic identities in Hawaiʻi

Glenn, Akiemi Soleil
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012]
This dissertation examines the linguistic practices of Tokelau people resettled on Hawaiʻi's island of O'ahu as they engage in the work of maintaining their heritage language. The focus of the research is on the community of practice that has developed around the language and culture school Te Lumanaki o Tokelau i Amelika ('The Future of Tokelau in America') begun by descendants of people displaced from US-affiliated Olohega (Swains Island) and relocated to O'ahu beginning in the middle twentieth century. Through interviews, audio recordings of interactions, and ethnographic observation, I show that a key part of reclaiming and maintaining Tokelau identities in this space is the construction and negotiation of an imagined Pacific linguascape, peopled by talkers and defined by movement between islands of culture and actual transit through the geography of the Pacific. Community members make sense of their experiences in the multicultural world of modern Hawaiʻi through talk and through knowledge about talk, including dialectal variation, language contact, language history, and intracommunity linguistic ideologies. Through participation in explicit engagements with language, a species of ethnometalinguistic action, Tokelau people and speakers of Tokelauan make sense of social and historical interactions through language, using talk not only as a diagnostic for measuring linguistic sameness and difference, but also in dynamic ways as a wayfinding tool as they move through new social and cultural spaces in their homelands, as they encounter indigenous Pacific Islanders elsewhere, and as they reinvent and reinterpret themselves along the way.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
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