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American Indian English by William L. Leap

By William L. Leap

Examines the variety of English in American Indian speech groups.

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Sample text

For these reasons, I include comments on research method and data quality as I discuss examples in this chapter and draw comparisons between them. The Sounds of Indian English Most scholars who explore the sound systems of particular Indian English codes orient their research around the contrasts between Indian English and standard English phonologies. I am going to follow this approach to organize the information in this section. That is, I am using these contrasts to pinpoint the sound segments and sequences used by speakers of particular Indian English codes and to identify characteristics of English pronunciation shared by speakers from different speech communities.

In 1905 Congressional action opened reservation lands not otherwise claimed by the tribe or by individual families to non-Indian purchase and settlement, and by 1912 some 30,000 acres of Northern Ute reservation land had been transferred to non-Indian ownership. These transfers created a "checkerboard" pattern of on-reservation land ownership. NonIndian families live next door to Indian families all across the reservation, and the majority of the on-reservation settlements (Roosevelt, Duchesne, Neola, Lapointe) have a predominantly non-Indian population.

Levels of ancestral language fluencies vary greatly across this reservation, depending on the speaker's tribal background, age, and other factors. Speaker familiarity with different varieties of English meshes closely with ancestral language variation. Penfield-Jasper (1982: 25) reports for the Mohave: "90% of the youth under the age of 20 no longer speak the Native language. . " Chemehuevi, Navajo, and Hopi students also speak in their own varieties of English. " Importantly, these students retain these tribe-specific contrasts in English throughout their grade school careers and, apparently, into adulthood.

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