Variation in Maltese English: The interplay of the local and the global in an emerging postcolonial variety LISA MARIE BONNICI

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1 Variation in Maltese English: The interplay of the local and the global in an emerging postcolonial variety LISA MARIE BONNICI B.A. Honors (University of California, Santa Barbara) 2002 M.A. (University of California, Davis) 2007 DISSERTATION Submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in LINGUISTICS in the OFFICE OF GRADUATE STUDIES of the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA DAVIS Approved: Robert J. Bayley, Chair Janet S. Shibamoto Smith, Member Lenora A. Timm, Member Committee in Charge 2010 i

2 Copyright by Lisa Bonnici 2010 All Rights Reserved

3 Abstract In our current era of increased globalization, constraints on language variation in postcolonial English varieties are multifaceted. Local and global language ideologies collide and multiple sources of influence converge in present-day patterns of linguistic variation in emerging English varieties. While research into the structure and socio-historic backdrop of new English varieties is burgeoning, this work has largely ignored tools of quantitative sociolinguistic analysis. This dissertation explores the outcomes of the re-rooting of English to Malta. It considers the diverse influences on language ideologies and variation in Malta in light of diachronic and synchronic events including Malta s colonial history and the rise of English as a global linguistic commodity. To examine these issues, this dissertation analyzes local language ideologies and variation in post-vocalic (r) and the quotative system using ethnographic data and sociolinguistic interviews conducted in 2008 with bilingual, English-dominant participants from four age groups. Results for post-vocalic (r) demonstrate an apparent-time change in progress, with a move from extremely r-ful behavior to r-lessness and back to increased rhoticity. This is understood in light of dramatic shifts in access to r-ful varieties and local stigmatization of features ideologically linked to being English-speaking, i.e., salient features of Received Pronunciation. ii

4 An analysis of the quotative system reveals the presence of be like in speakers under 35 and a local quotative, tell. Results demonstrate the same constraints at work in standard language varieties to be operating on be like in Malta. As be like entered Maltese English, the constraints on the existing quotative system remained intact while overall rates of say have decreased. This dissertation brings together theories of world Englishes and ethnographic, variationist approaches. While this approach has a longstanding tradition in sociolinguistics and has been hallmarked as necessary for exploring the processes and outcomes of globalization in sociolinguistics (Blommaert, 2003), it is still sparse in world Englishes research, and the rich internal variability in emerging English varieties is unexplored. This dissertation also expands on research into variation in bilingual communities and assesses claims concerning the glocalization of incoming global variants, which have been examined largely among monolingual speakers in standard language cultures. iii

5 Acknowledgements There are far too many people who have helped me along this incredible journey to name them all. This dissertation was supported by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (# ) for which I am greatly appreciative. I would first like to acknowledge Professor Robert Bayley, an outstanding scholar, teacher, mentor, and friend, for his unwavering support. His commitment to the training and mentoring of graduate students is inspiring to watch and has set the bar very high for my own future mentoring roles. Furthermore, his inspirational research within marginalized communities has impressed upon me the importance of conducting sociolinguistic research which, beyond advancing sociolinguistic theory, raises awareness about social injustices tied to language through increasing our knowledge of the systematicity of language practices within deaf, multilingual, and minority communities. I look forward to further collaboration and discussion in the future. I would also like to express my gratitude to Professors Janet Shibamoto Smith and Lenora Timm, the two additional members of my dissertation committee and more importantly, two outstanding and inspiring female academics. Janet Shibamoto Smith has been an immensely inspiring and constructive voice throughout this process. Her thoughtful comments have pushed me to explore complex anthropological issues more deeply than I thought I was capable of and I am endlessly impressed with her timeliness, work ethic, constructive feedback, and consistently rigorous and thoughtprovoking scholarship. Lenora Timm s research with bilingual speakers in Brittany has made iv

6 her a great resource for discussing sociolinguistics in Europe; beyond this, her uplifting laugh and comfortable manner has helped calm me in many frenzied and nerve-racking moments over the years. Throughout graduate school and this dissertation process, Vineeta Chand has filled many roles for me including colleague, mentor, and friend. She has offered her advice and time on countless occasions throughout this endeavor, and some of the ideas and arguments presented here were borne out of long discussions by the pond with Piglet sleeping nearby. We have challenged each other academically and personally over the years and have had a great time along the way; I look forward to more of the same. Early on, anthropologist Jeremy Boissevain noted the strong family relationships of Maltese people, and I am fortunate to say that this holds true in my own family. My mother, Doreen, and my father, Wilfred, have continuously impressed me with their sharp intellects, strong work ethic, unique perspectives, and overall joie de vivre. I cannot express the extent of my appreciation for both of them, including for the phone calls I have had with my mother where she refused to waver in her confidence of me despite my pleading to the contrary. Likewise, my father deserves an extra special thanks for his help with the Maltese translations, his early and infectious excitement (my grandparents have been calling me Doctora for months already), and for the gas money when I needed it. I would also like to thank my brother, Keith, for encouraging me along this journey, engaging me in lively discussions, and sharpening my skills of argumentation (and Connect 4) over the years. I wonder if he will finally accept my greater level of intelligence now or v

7 perhaps he will admit that we are even. Next, I would like to acknowledge Monique Ngo Bonnici for her support and encouragement, first as a friend, second as a sister-in-law, and third as the mother of my two beautiful nephews. Luca came just before my oral exams and Dominic arrived three weeks before this dissertation was finished. Having these two joyous events co-occur with busy and stressful times carried me through these difficult phases with a beaming smile. Of course, this would not have been possible without the support of my family in Malta who provided me with company, insight, and home-cooked meals during fieldwork, but also whose own language practices initially piqued my interest in English in Malta. I would especially like to acknowledge Noel Fenech for too many things to name, but especially for distracting me when I missed my husband during fieldwork, and to the many cousins who helped me locate participants for this study and who made themselves available to me for whatever I needed. I have also been lucky to have the support of my new family, Kathy and Steve Langham, and of course, Nana. I would next like to recognize my professors and colleagues in the Linguistics Department at UC Davis, especially Tammy Gales for knocking sense into me at regular intervals over the last few months, the first cohort of Linguistics Ph.D.s at UC Davis of which I am proud to be a part, and Professors Julia Menard-Warwick, Vaidehi Ramanathan, Orhan Orgun, and Karen Watson-Gegeo for their roles in shaping my perspectives on language and research over the years. vi

8 Many thanks to my transnational community of friends who have lent me their ears over the years and who have stuck with me despite a few years of neglect. I would especially like to thank Aliza Hurst, Jennifer Easterday, Charlotte Birnbaum, Christina Ballard, Na ama Ron, Annette Poliwka, Ben Pearson, Clara Buttigieg, Nancy Langham, and Jesse Langham. I cherish your support, scholarly insights, and friendship, and I look forward to spending more time with you in the months and years to come. And most of all, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my partner in life, Richard Langham. I could not have done this without his support. If some sort of award for outstanding spouses of Ph.D. students existed, he would be a well-deserving recipient. I would like to thank him for standing by my side at all hours of the day and night through this journey, listening to me wax poetic about sociolinguistics, supporting me in myriad ways, and stubbornly loving me during the brightest (and darkest) moments of this process. I am very excited for the adventures that lie ahead for the two of us. vii

9 Table of Contents Abstract... ii Acknowledgements... iv List of Figures...xiii List of Tables... xiv 1 Introduction Context of the study Rationale for this study Why a sociocultural approach to variationist linguistics? Why Maltese English? Research questions Significance Organization Models of world Englishes: A critical review Introduction The postcolonial state World, new, postcolonial? Reviewing the terminology World Englishes New Englishes Postcolonial Englishes English Language Complex Models of world Englishes World Englishes Circles model Schneider s Dynamic Postcolonial Englishes model The Cognitive Sociolinguistic approach to world Englishes English Language Complex Variationist sociolinguistics and world Englishes Conclusion Language use in Malta Introduction Malta: Background information viii

10 3.3 A brief linguistic history of Malta English in Malta Domains of language use Education Media Administration Language in the home Language demographics Maltese language policy Maltese English Structural description Conclusion Methods Introduction Participants Language fluency Sex and age Level of education The English-speaking minority in Malta Participant selection Gaining consent Restricting participants Data collection Sociolinguistic interviews Reading passage and narrative retell Interview reports and field notes Researcher competence: Approximating the vernacular Data analysis Transcription Language ideologies Variationist analysis Language ideologies in Malta s English-speaking community ix

11 5.1 Introduction Objectives Language ideologies and sociolinguistic variation Language and social class in Malta Language attitudes in Malta Methodology Grounded theory Description of methods Findings Who is English-speaking? The MaltE accent : Distinct or not? Is Maltese English correct English? Language mixing and semilingualism Positive attitudes to MaltE Sounding British English-speaking people are snobbish & speak snobbish English Men, masculinity, and Maltese The importance of English and Maltese Conclusion Developing postcolonial norms: The social meaning of r-lessness in Malta Introduction Motivations for this study The prestige form in postcolonial varieties of English Post-vocalic (r) and cultural discourses of masculinity Rhotics in MaltE Post-vocalic (r) in varieties of English Methods Participants The dependent variable Independent variables: Linguistic factor groups Independent variables: Social factor groups Independent variables: Speech style x

12 6.8 Data analysis and results Distributional analysis Grammatical factors Multivariate analysis Overall constraint ranking Linguistic constraints Social constraints (r) and language ideologies Outliers Following vowels Contracted forms Conclusion The quotative system of Maltese English Introduction Motivations for study Quotatives Be like Go Be all Tell The zero quotative Methods The dependent variable Independent variables Results Overall frequency of quotatives Multivariate analysis Conclusion Conclusion Summary of findings Broader implications Final words: MaltE xi

13 Appendix A: Maltese English features chart Appendix B: Transcription conventions Appendix C: Sociolinguistic interview questions Appendix D: Rainbow passage Appendix E: Qualitative coding scheme References xii

14 List of Figures Figure 2.1 Kachru's Circles model of world Englishes Figure 3.1 Map of fieldwork neighborhoods Figure 4.1 Sociolinguistic interview topics Figure 6.1 Percentage of r-lessness across speakers from four age groups Figure 6.2 Cross tabulations of two independent social factor groups, sex and age Figure 6.3 Cross tabulations of two independent factor groups, sex and speech style xiii

15 List of Tables Table 2.1 Classification of varieties of English in major works Table 2.2 Summary of Mesthrie and Bhatt's (2008) approaches to the study of English Table 3.1 Domains of language use in Malta (from Camilleri 1995) Table 3.2 Order of language acquisition in different Maltese families Table 4.1 Distribution of stratified sample Table 4.2 Major qualitative code categories Table 5.1 Features of MaltE discussed by participants Table 6.1 Coding scheme for preceding segment Table 6.2 Summary of findings for following segment in Romaine (1978) Table 6.3 Coding scheme for the following environment factor group Table 6.4 Coding scheme for syllable stress factor group Table 6.5 Coding scheme for morphological position factor group Table 6.6 Coding scheme for dissimilation factor group Table 6.7 Coding scheme for morphological status factor group Table 6.8 Results of distributional analysis for the dependent variable, (r) Table 6.9 Results of distributional analysis for age factor group Table 6.10 Results of distributional analysis for sex factor group Table 6.11 Participants self-reports on language of the home Table 6.12 Results of distributional analysis for speech style Table 6.13 Results of distributional analysis for following environment Table 6.14 Results of distributional analysis for preceding vowels xiv

16 Table 6.15 Results of distributional analysis of morphological status Table 6.16 Factor groups selected as significant in the multivariate analysis Table 6.17 Multivariate analysis of r-lessness Table 6.18 Multivariate analysis of r-lessness in Maltese English: Following vowels Table 6.19 Classification of contracted words and their (near) homophones Table 6.20 Distributional analysis of contracted and non-contracted forms Table 6.21 Distributional analysis of contracted and non-contracted token types Table 6.22 Multivariate analysis of r-lessness: Contracted and non-contracted tokens Table 7.1 Summary of main quotative verbs observed in the data Table 7.2 Coding scheme for grammatical subject factor group Table 7.3 Summary of previous findings on temporal reference and be like Table 7.4 Coding scheme for tense/temporal reference factor group Table 7.5 Coding scheme for content of quote factor group Table 7.6 Overall distribution of quotatives in MaltE Table 7.7 Overall distribution of quotative verbs in older and younger speakers Table 7.8 Distribution of most frequent quotatives by age and sex Table 7.9 Exclusions from quantitative analysis Table 7.10 Multivariate analysis showing the constraints on say Table 7.11 Multivariate analysis showing the constraints on quotative be like Table 7.12 Comparison of constraints on be like in MaltE with AmerE, BritE, and NZE Table 7.13 Multivariate analysis showing the constraints on tell Table 7.14 Multivariate analysis showing the constraints on the zero quotative xv

17 1 1 Introduction 1.1 Context of the study English in Malta is rooted in over 150 years of British colonialism. It is variably used in all facets of Maltese life and has a strong presence in the education system and in the lives of the English-speaking bilinguals under study here, i.e., individuals who grew up in largely English-speaking homes in the Northern Harbor region of the island. Maltese, the most recent indigenous language, is a Semitic language which has been greatly influenced by a number of Romance languages especially Italian and more recently, English. This dissertation examines the language practices, ideologies, and variability in linguistic structure of English in Malta s English-speaking population. Maltese English ( MaltE ), the term used to refer to the variety of English spoken by Maltese and English bilinguals in Malta (Broughton, 1978; Camilleri, 1992), is a diverse variety spoken on this small bilingual Mediterranean island and European nation state. 1.2 Rationale for this study In postcolonial settings, local varieties of the language imported by former colonizers develop, exhibiting distinctive structures as well as norms of use. While research into the structure and socio-historic backdrop of varieties of English in postcolonial settings is burgeoning, scholars have focused primarily on non-western contexts where colonial forces rose to power against the wishes of indigenous residents (Kachru, 1985a; Schneider, 2007). Furthermore, world Englishes research has tended towards focusing on English at the

18 2 national level, leaving intranational variation and ideologies surrounding English largely outside the scope of their models. This dissertation project raises questions concerning this macro-level focus of research on English outside of traditionally English-speaking nations, and utilizes a cross-disciplinary, sociocultural linguistics framework to examine the variable position, structure, and ideologies of English within a nation, filling a gap in world Englishes research. In turn, it calls attention to the limitations of the current macro-level focus of world Englishes research and suggests how sociolinguistics research in an ethnographic and variationist framework paints a more authentic picture of English around the world Why a sociocultural approach to variationist linguistics? This dissertation is located within a sociocultural linguistics framework (Bucholtz & Hall, 2008), marrying rigorous quantitative analysis with systematic qualitative examinations of language practices and ideologies to unravel the processes at work in the formation of new varieties of English. At its core, sociocultural linguistics argues: As the history of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology shows, a sharp distinction between these fields and others concerned with the sociocultural investigation of language is untenable given their significant common ground (Bucholtz & Hall, 2008:401). Once a more encompassing subdiscipline, sociolinguistics has come to be defined strictly as the quantitative study of linguistic variation, while linguistic anthropology is centered around ethnography and more broadly qualitative approaches to the study of language and culture. However, increasingly, a move towards more integrative research is clearly visible, especially in recent dissertations

19 3 where ethnography is once again being viewed as fundamental to the study of linguistic variation (see, for example, Mendoza-Denton, 2008). My dissertation research forms part of this new tradition through its micro-level, qualitative and quantitative approach to the study of English in a distinctive, postcolonial, bilingual context, an approach advocated in recent theorizing on sociolinguistics and globalization (Blommaert, 2003). Thus, central to the quantitative analysis in this dissertation is a qualitative investigation into the ways participants language practices and ideologies shape and are shaped by complex, layered and at times, pejorative ideologies surrounding English language use. Overarchingly, this approach allows us to examine how the role of English as a valuable, global linguistic commodity plays out structurally and socially in a local context with its own set of complex historical postures around English, and investigates the total linguistic fact conceived of by Silverstein (1985), i.e., the recursive influences of structure, ideologies, and usage on one another Why Maltese English? An E.U. member, Malta stands apart from traditionally examined postcolonial contexts in its more amicable relations with former British colonizers, pro-western cultural allegiances, reliance on foreign tourism and imports, and expectation of out-migration of its citizenry. Additionally, Malta s small landmass has fostered an enduring history of highly valued bilingualism. An overwhelmingly ethnically homogenous context, bilingualism at the level of the individual is widespread. However, two broad language groups still exist: the English-speaking and the Maltese-speaking, which are complexly differentiated by their

20 4 patterns of daily language use and ideologies. Social stereotypes and criticisms of each group regarding the other, as well as regarding the use of English and Maltese, are omnipresent and are hypothesized to influence the structure of English in Malta and the social constraints on its variation. While the examination of ideologies of language is a multifaceted endeavor which must consider both diachrony and synchrony, e.g., postcolonial history and present-day local tensions between language groups, the presence of these two locally defined language groups offers the opportunity to explore English dialect emergence from a more nuanced perspective than has traditionally been the case in world Englishes, considering the impact of glocal language practices and at times dissonant ideologies on the language structure of English-speaking individuals. 1.3 Research questions The following research questions are explored in this dissertation: Who are the English-speaking Maltese-English bilinguals? What are their language practices and how do they differ from individuals who identify as Maltese-speaking? What dominant language ideologies are present in this population and in Maltese society more generally and how are they shaping structural variation in this context? In what ways are the ideologies surrounding English shaped by postcolonial history and the present-day position of English in the global and local linguistic marketplace? What linguistic and social factors condition variation in Maltese English? How is the structure of variation in Maltese English similar to and distinctive from metropolitan varieties of English, i.e., British and American Englishes?

21 5 How are local and global influences shaping the development of the variety over apparent time? 1.4 Significance Like the influences on the variety under study here, the significance of this dissertation is both local and global in perspective. This dissertation examines how global innovative sociolinguistic variables behave in a distinctive type of English-speaking context that differs in important respects from the predominant contexts studied in the variationist tradition a bilingual, postcolonial, and European context. In this way, this dissertation serves to corroborate and/or challenge recent findings on the spread of global linguistic variables, e.g., be like, which have largely been based on studies conducted in English-dominant societies with monolingual speakers of metropolitan varieties. 1 This work has posited universal constraints on particular variants (Buchstaller & D Arcy, 2009; Tagliamonte & D Arcy, 2007; Tagliamonte & Hudson, 1999), yet these constraints have not been verified as operating in nonstandard varieties of English outside of traditionally English-speaking contexts. Next, this dissertation sheds light on the nature of the bilingual speech community and in particular, how a variably bilingual speech community can be modeled in the variationist paradigm. Despite the fact that the heterogeneous nature of the bilingual speech 1 Of course, there are exceptions which are discussed in the respective quantitative chapters here. These include work conducted in minority communities within the United States whose speakers are variably bilingual (Cukor-Avila, 2002), monolingual ethnic minorities both in the United States (Kohn & Franz, 2009) and elsewhere (D Arcy, 2010), and bilingual communities (Dion & Poplack, 2005) to name a few.

22 6 community in Malta required that this first examination of Maltese English carefully focus on L1 English (and variably, Maltese) speakers, this dissertation serves to highlight locally significant nuances in the language practices, structures, and ideologies of the Englishspeaking in Malta which appear to stand in contrast to the practices and ideologies of Maltese-speaking individuals. In doing so, this dissertation foregrounds the diversity which likely characterizes all bilingual communities and questions how to situate this intracommunity variation within existing models of world Englishes, which are more macro in focus. Correspondingly, this dissertation uses sociocultural linguistic ideas and approaches to examine a world English variety, a strategy which has largely not been employed thus far (however, see Chand, 2009). In exploring the interplay of local and global as well as diachronic and synchronic influences on structural variation, language ideologies, and patterns of use, this dissertation bridges the gap between world Englishes research and recent theorizing on sociolinguistics and globalization. In taking an extremely localized approach to the study of a world English variety, the characterizations of English in Malta in this study are more authentic, triangulated, and comprehensive than larger scale studies of world Englishes devoid of an ethnographic focus. Documenting a previously unexamined language variety both sustains one of the core values within the field of linguistics the value of global linguistic diversity and advances (or reminds us of) the scope of this value to varieties of a language. While English has been touted as a hegemonic language, the structural and ideologies nuances of English varieties

23 7 in a particular context demonstrate how cultural and societal values are infused within any language variety. Related to this, an important social issue emerges from this study. The focus on L1 Englishdominant or balanced bilinguals in Malta serves to empirically demonstrate Maltese English as a structured, rule-governed variety of English in its own right, with L1, bilingual, and L2 speakers. As detailed in chapter five, Maltese English features which diverge from RP are deeply felt to be instances of bad or broken English by many of its own speakers. These include the use of an overt post-vocalic [ɹ] as well as the realization of interdental fricatives as stops, the omission of DO-support in the formation of interrogatives, and calques from Maltese (e.g., I m making a pool for I m building a pool). The attitude that these features of Maltese English are incorrect comes from a few different sources. Some older participants noted that these features were often highlighted and corrected in school by teachers. Others emphasized these deviant features as persistent in the speech of Maltese-speaking individuals, especially Maltese-speaking teachers, and often were critical that these teachers were allowed to teach English at school. Others talk generally about the reasons English in Malta is broken. One repeated criticism attributes broken English to the pervasive use of codeswitching. By detailing the structured nature of this variety and disseminating the results locally, it is my hope that Maltese English speakers can shed their standard language ideology (James Milroy, 2001) and begin to think of this variety in new terms, as a variety in its own right which is not a result of direct interference from Maltese or an instance of failed language

24 8 learning, but a variety which has undergone a natural process of language change within a context of language contact, a postcolonial sociocultural history, and increased global flows of language and culture. 1.5 Organization This dissertation is organized as follows. Chapter two provides a review of the literature of world, new, and postcolonial Englishes. The terminology associated with the field of world Englishes is unpacked and the terminology used throughout this dissertation and its rationale for use is discussed. Chapter three offers an overview of the sociolinguistic situation in Malta, including a brief history of English in Malta and a review of the sparse body of Maltese sociolinguistics research. In chapter four, the methodology used in this dissertation is detailed, including the methods of participant selection, data collection, and analysis. Chapters five through seven present the results of this study. Chapter five reports on the analysis of dominant language ideologies in the community of speakers under study and in Maltese society, more generally, including how English has come to occupy a tense position in Maltese society, one tied to the former colonizers and to an ideology of snobbishness, and the other tied to global and local opportunity. Chapter six examines the linguistic and social constraints on post-vocalic (r) realization using variationist methods, and chapter seven explores the quotative system of Maltese English, including the entrance of be like into the variety and the resulting reorganization of the quotative system. The functions of and constraints on the four most frequent quotatives are investigated, including the local

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