We are very pleased to welcome David Britain (Professor of Modern English Linguistics, University of Bern), who is doing a whistle stop tour of New Zealand Universities as a Fellow of the New Zealand Linguistics Society.
While at UC, Dave will give a talk called:
Palauan English – an emerging new variety of the Western Pacific
It’s at 4pm today – Monday 20 May – in lecture theatre A9.
The Republic of Palau is a small independent nation state of the Western Pacific, consisting of an archipelago of around 350 small islands stretched across 400 miles of ocean. Its nearest neighbours are Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the south, the Federated States of Micronesia to the east, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to the northeast, and the Philippines to the west. For most of the 20th century, Palau was under colonial administration: by Spain, Germany, Japan and finally, the US. It formally gained independence in 1994.
This paper has three aims: firstly to set the emergence of English in Palau into the context of the country’s complex colonial past. Palau’s four colonial rulers have exercised control in different ways, with different degrees of settler migration, different attitudes towards the function of Palau as a ‘colony’, and widely differing local policies, leading to very different linguistic outcomes in each case. We focus here, however, on the American era and the path to Palauan independence. Secondly, in examining the development of English in Palau, we attempt to apply Schneider’s (2007) ‘Dynamic Model’ of postcolonial English formation to this Anglophone community. Palau provides an interesting and important case study, because few communities in which English has emerged as a result of American as opposed to British colonialism have been examined within the model to date. Finally, we present, based on analyses of recordings of informal conversations among Palauans, an initial portrait of the main linguistic characteristics of Palauan English. We attempt, therefore, to provide a holistic sociohistorical, political as well as linguistic account of the process by which a new English emerges in a colonial environment.