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Discursive Construction of Bicultural Identity

A Cross-Generational Sociolinguistic Study on Oromo-Americans in Minnesota

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Oromiya-Jalata Deffa

The author examines the cultural identity development of Oromo-Americans in Minnesota, an ethnic group originally located within the national borders of Ethiopia. Earlier studies on language and cultural identity have shown that the degree of ethnic orientation of minorities commonly decreases from generation to generation. Yet oppression and a visible minority status were identified as factors delaying the process of de-ethnicization. Given that Oromos fled persecution in Ethiopia and are confronted with the ramifications of a visible minority status in the U.S., it can be expected that they have retained strong ties to their ethnic culture. This study, however, came to a more complex and theory-building result.
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4. Methodology

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4.1 Methods of data collection

This study conjoins different methods of interview data analysis to provide a sound approach towards the construction of Oromo-American identities and assembles two different sources of data in the corpus: In the manner of earlier corpus-based sociolinguistic studies on exiled minority groups (e.g. Daha, 2011; Du Bois, 2008; Horvath, 1985; Imbens-Bailey, 1996), the corpus of this study consists of semi-structured half-standardized ethnographic interviews based on an interview log with questions revolving around the everyday experiences of the informants as Oromos in America. In addition to the ethnographic interviews, a self-report questionnaire was handed out to the informants prior to the interview. The first part of the questionnaire is comprised of questions on different personal data such as level of education, profession and religious affiliation (whereby atheist/agnostic was given as a possible answer). In the second part of questionnaire, the informants were asked to estimate their levels of proficiency in relevant languages (such as Afaan Oromo, American English, Amharic), but also the degree of contact to the relevant cultural communities (such as Oromos, Habesha-Ethiopians, Caucasian Americans or African Americans). Based on the answers elicited in these questionnaires, an ethnic orientation rate (EO-rate) was calculated to make up a non-linguistic parameter against which the findings of the linguistic analyses can be measured. I shall come back to the calculation of the EO-rate in section 4.2.2.2.

4.1.1 Triangulation of data – the corpus

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