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Discursive Constructions of Immigrant Identity

A Sociolinguistic Trend Study on Long-Term American Immigrants

Inke Du Bois

In which way can language be an indicator for cultural identity in immigration contexts? How are collective identity, social networks and the use of the inclusive pronoun ‘we’ connected? Does code-switching in additive bilingualism and first language attrition indicate a loss of home cultural identity? Designed as a longitudinal trend study, this book answers such complex questions as it investigates data collected from interviews with thirty U.S. Americans who immigrated to Germany between 1963 and 2001. On the one hand, in-depth discourse analyses take the discursive construction of identity within the sociopolitical context of Germany into account. Narrative structures, person and place deictics and code-switching are indexical for cultural identity. On the other hand, socio-demographic factors such as age at arrival, length of residence, social networks and education are relevant for the identification of the Americans and their linguistic choices. Qualitative and quantitative methods are applied and result in a synthesis of in-depth linguistic analyses and general trends of language variation within the cohort.
Inke Du Bois studied English and Spanish linguistics at the Universities of Kiel (Germany), Barcelona (Spain) and San Francisco (USA). She received her Master’s degree in English Linguistics from San Francisco State University and her Doctorate degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Hamburg. She has taught a wide range of classes related to English linguistics and intercultural communication in California and in Germany. She worked as a visiting professor for English linguistics at the University of Vechta and currently holds a position as visiting professor for English linguistics at Bremen University.