Title

Sociolinguistics and Insider/Outsider Status in Hawai'i

Type of Submission

Podium Presentation

Keywords

Sociolinguistics, Hawai'i, Hawaii

Proposal

Prior to the rise of tourism in Hawai’i, the Hawaiian economy was largely driven by plantations. As labor was imported to work these plantations, a rich, multiethnic culture developed on the islands, producing a similarly diverse linguistic situation. What began as a pidgin blend of several languages for the purpose of communication between workers and supervisors has since developed into a language unique to the islands: Hawaiian Creole English (HCE). Social status in Hawai’i has long been influenced by a person’s manner of speech, as evidenced by elite Standard English (SE) schools founded to educate children of those in the top tier of Hawaiian economy and governmental efforts to suppress Hawaiian and HCE.This paper explores sociolinguistic aspects of language within Hawai’i and how the way a person speaks influences his or her ascribed social status. Utilizing a review of historic and current literature related to relevant issues, it answers the questions of how speech style influences Hawaiian residents’ perceptions of insider/outsider status and how attitudes of listeners and speakers compare and contrast with regards to speech style. Through modified Grounded Theory analysis of data gathered from long-term residents of Hawai’i in interviews, an attitude assessment, and a reflective journal, this study revealed that language is a critical factor in determining whether someone is local or not. While speaking HCE is not required to be considered local, familiarity with it and the unique dialect of Hawai’i largely determines whether someone will be accepted as an insider or not. Race is also a significant factor influencing conferral of social status and attitudes towards speech styles. Overall, locals evaluate whether a person shows respect for the culture and history of Hawai’i, in large part through the way s/he speaks, to determine their status. In conducting this study, a broad spectrum of perspectives was represented, but a more accurate analysis of the overall attitudes of Hawai’i residents could be produced with a greater number of participants from each of the various segments of Hawaiian society.

Start Date

4-8-2020 1:00 PM

End Date

4-22-2020 6:00 PM

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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Apr 8th, 1:00 PM Apr 22nd, 6:00 PM

Sociolinguistics and Insider/Outsider Status in Hawai'i

Prior to the rise of tourism in Hawai’i, the Hawaiian economy was largely driven by plantations. As labor was imported to work these plantations, a rich, multiethnic culture developed on the islands, producing a similarly diverse linguistic situation. What began as a pidgin blend of several languages for the purpose of communication between workers and supervisors has since developed into a language unique to the islands: Hawaiian Creole English (HCE). Social status in Hawai’i has long been influenced by a person’s manner of speech, as evidenced by elite Standard English (SE) schools founded to educate children of those in the top tier of Hawaiian economy and governmental efforts to suppress Hawaiian and HCE.This paper explores sociolinguistic aspects of language within Hawai’i and how the way a person speaks influences his or her ascribed social status. Utilizing a review of historic and current literature related to relevant issues, it answers the questions of how speech style influences Hawaiian residents’ perceptions of insider/outsider status and how attitudes of listeners and speakers compare and contrast with regards to speech style. Through modified Grounded Theory analysis of data gathered from long-term residents of Hawai’i in interviews, an attitude assessment, and a reflective journal, this study revealed that language is a critical factor in determining whether someone is local or not. While speaking HCE is not required to be considered local, familiarity with it and the unique dialect of Hawai’i largely determines whether someone will be accepted as an insider or not. Race is also a significant factor influencing conferral of social status and attitudes towards speech styles. Overall, locals evaluate whether a person shows respect for the culture and history of Hawai’i, in large part through the way s/he speaks, to determine their status. In conducting this study, a broad spectrum of perspectives was represented, but a more accurate analysis of the overall attitudes of Hawai’i residents could be produced with a greater number of participants from each of the various segments of Hawaiian society.