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Language, Identity and Urban Space

The Language Use of Latin American Migrants


Tabea Salzmann

Migration as a process has achieved increasing attention in the context of nation-states and globalisation. In linguistics the field of language contact is particularly associated with this phenomenon. This book investigates the connection between language usage, migration, space, in particular urban space, and the constitution of cultural identity. Two corpora of Andean migrants’ Spanish conversations in Lima and in Madrid are analysed. The resulting comparative analysis provides the material for considerations on language contact, code copying, discourse strategies etc. Throughout the book a new theoretical approach based on linguistic ecology is used. It includes the concept of a general expanded feature pool, which is the basis for language use and identity constitution for migrants.
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2. Theoretical Basis


The outlined project – describing and interpreting the linguistic interaction of migrants in two different urban spaces and hoping to ascertain the general structures behind the actual interaction through the comparison – necessitates a holistic approach. This approach must take into account the many different levels and parameters that contribute to factual outcome and is necessarily holistic. In the following chapter, therefore, I shall construct my theoretical approach step by step, starting with the general basis in an ecological linguistic approach, considering three levels, which I combine with the concepts of migration and identity. In a more explicit explanation of the different levels this basis is then widened.

On the micro level, I consider the complex of the personal linguistic interaction level, to determine how it is composed of turns, which consist of utterances, which on their part are formed out of features. On the next level I then take into account how the choice of these features is based on discourse strategies, through which certain features are chosen from a feature pool. Aspects of awareness, salience, markedness, and frequency influence this choice.

On the meso level I take a look at how choices in contact situations display language contact. The complex of language contact implicates examining what a language or variety is, how the contact works in language through copying processes and how these can be propagated in a group. Propagation again, has to do with perceptions of persons and groups, which can lead to...

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