Social Networks and Linguistic Accommodation of Mainland Chinese in an Urban American Chinese Community.
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)
The growing number of immigrants from both Taiwan and Mainland China have brought speakers of different Mandarin varieties into contact in an American context. In the Chinese community in Los Angeles, Mainland Putonghua speakers are found to accommodate their language to the local Taiwan Mandarin speakers. Social network analysis, a model oriented toward the individual, is adapted here for analyzing this linguistic situation. The conversation of 35 informants was recorded within a naturally occurring context and their social network scores were compared with their scores for nine linguistic variables selected for this study. It was found that the accommodation process among Mainland Mandarin speakers is closely related to their degree of integration into the local networks. Statistical procedures reveal significant correlations between the network scores and linguistic variable scores for the entire sample. The network and language correlation is strongest for subgroups such as women, older speakers, and speakers from Beijing and Shanghai areas. Some individual differences were observed, especially among younger speakers. This study of relationship between network structure and linguistic accommodation shows a complex process in which individuals' decision based on economic and political considerations has an impact, which affects the kind of network structure and the subsequent linguistic change. While a speaker who is marginal in the community can choose from a wide range of psychological orientations during verbal interaction with others, such a choice is limited when a speaker is closely tied to a particular group that has a distinctive linguistic norm. In this sense, the long-term accommodation process, using Trudgill (1986)'s term, is actually a process in which speakers from other communities converge under the normative pressure from the local groups with which they are closely associated.
Chi, Hong, "Social Networks and Linguistic Accommodation of Mainland Chinese in an Urban American Chinese Community." (1991). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 5174.