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Academic Paper

Title: Modern Rapanui Adaptation of Spanish Elements
Paper URL:
Author: Miki Makihara
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Queens College (CUNY)
Linguistic Field: Anthropological Linguistics; General Linguistics; Language Documentation
Subject Language: Rapanui
Subject LANGUAGE Family: Austronesian
Abstract: Rapanui is a Polynesian language spoken on Easter Island, Chile. In this paper, I focus on the linguistic adaptations that Rapanui speakers make when transferring Spanish elements into their Modern Rapanui speech. I analyze Spanish transfers and the mechanisms of adaptation at the levels of phonology, morphology, lexicon, syntax, and discourse. The discussion includes phonological adaptation; application of Rapanui bound morphemes; possessive class assignment; kin and emotion semantic fields;syntactic category crossing; the introduction of a modal construction of obligation,coordinating conjunctions, and an adverb of negation; and the use of Spanish elements as discourse markers and the indexicality they make possible. The analysis of Modern Rapanui speech presented in this paper demonstrates that mixing Spanish elements in Rapanui discourse requires that speakers hold significant tacit knowledge of the Rapanui linguistic system. Instead of looking at these Spanish transfers as evidence of Rapanui becoming contaminated by Spanish, they can be analyzed as evidence of the bilingual speakers' creative performance in Modern Rapanui speech and what extends the remarkable survival and adaptability of the Rapanui language. By considering the diachronic and synchronic variation found in Spanish transfers, the analysis also contributes toward the understanding of the process of language change, speakers' roles in it, and the ways in which linguistic variation is related to the phenomenon of language change. Most of the data I employ are taken from transcripts made from naturalistic verbal interactions among the island residents recorded during my ethnographic research in this Rapanui-Spanish bilingual island community (1993-1996).
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Oceanic Linguistics 40(2):191-222.
Publication Info: Oceanic Linguistics 40(2):191-222.

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