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ERIC Number: ED513123
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 290
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1092-8193-4
Language Socialization and Ensuing Identity Construction among Ethiopian Immigrants in Metropolitan Denver
Weldeyesus, Weldu Michael
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder
The purpose of this dissertation was to conduct a sociocultural linguistic study on Ethiopian immigrants in the Denver metropolis. It specifically examined language practice of Ethiopian immigrants at home and in church. The study centered on three Ethiopian Orthodox parish churches, taken as separate communities of practice. The study was informed by theoretical considerations from three interrelated areas of linguistics, namely, language and identity, language socialization, and language contact. Five methods of data collection were employed: participant observation, video recordings of liturgical services, interviews, recordings of naturally occurring conversations, and a survey. The language practice of Ethiopian immigrants is influenced largely by their close-knit network and beliefs about the role language plays in defining their identity. While first-generation Ethiopian immigrants tend to maintain their native languages, their children tend to be monolingual in English. Frequent use of native languages and close-knit network among the first generation hinder their proficiency in English, which in turn influences their socialization into mainstream society. In addition, Ethiopian immigrants use narratives to construct their identity by contrasting a more socialized current self with a less socialized former self. The parish churches play a prominent role in helping the first generation practice their faith, and maintain their native languages and culture. They also teach the second generation Ethiopian history, culture, and language. Language practice in the churches raises the issue of choosing Ge'ez or Amharic for the liturgy. Despite their limited knowledge, the clergy and the majority of the laity favored the continued use of Ge'ez. The parish churches differ in their affiliation to a synod in Ethiopia (Kidane-Mehret and Medhane-Alem) or in exile (Kidist-Mariam). On a tradition-modernity continuum, Kidist Mariam falls on the modernity end, Medhane-Alem on the tradition end, while Kidane-Mehret lies somewhere in between. These emerging differences may have serious implications for the future unity of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In addition to contributing to the body of scholarship in sociocultural linguistics, this dissertation is a modest contribution to the dearth of research on Ethiopian immigrants in the diaspora. It can also have practical significance for Ethiopian immigrants in the United States. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Colorado; Ethiopia