Post-colonial (American?) English Presence on the North-Western Pacific Island of Kosrae: A cross-linguistic analysis of the overlaps and divergences of Kosraean English compared to standard American English

Lynch, Sara (5 December 2015). Post-colonial (American?) English Presence on the North-Western Pacific Island of Kosrae: A cross-linguistic analysis of the overlaps and divergences of Kosraean English compared to standard American English (Unpublished). In: Language in Contrast. Paris. 04.-05.12.2015.

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Kosrae is the most remote island of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), with a population of less than 7,000 inhabitants, located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Guam. FSM is an independent sovereign nation consisting of four states in total: Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae. Having passed through the hands of Spain, Germany and Japan, the United States gained administrative control of FSM after WWII, as commissioned by the UN. The FSM became an independent nation in 1986 while still retaining affiliation with the US under a ‘Compact of Free Association’. Now both Kosraean and English are considered to be the two official languages and the variety of Kosraean English which has arisen proves for an interesting comparative study.
In order to obtain the relevant data, I spent three months on the island of Kosrae, interviewing 90 local speakers, ranging in age (16-70), occupation, sex and time spent off island. The 45 minute long interviews were informal but supported by participant information to capture relevant data and conversations were guided in a way that aimed to reveal language and cultural attitudes. With reference to these samples, I examine the effects of American English on the language use in Kosrae. This paper aims to present a broad analysis of phonological, morphosyntactic and pragmatic features, such as pro-dropping, discourse markers and other practices in order to demonstrate the similarities and differences between the two varieties, which are coming to shape the variety developing on Kosrae. Having transcribed conversations using the tool Elan, I will put particular focus on [h] deletion and insertion, a rare occurrence found in a variety of post-colonial American English which I believe is of particular interest.
I assess the presence of English in Kosrae with reference to sociological influences, past and present. First, I discuss the extralinguistic factors which have shaped the English that is currently used on Kosrae, including migration between US and FSM, and English as a language of administration, social media usage and visual media presence. Secondly, I assess the use of English in this community in light of Schneider’s (2007) ‘Dynamic Model’, with reference to America’s contribution as an ‘exploitation colony’ as defined by Mufwene (2001). Finally, an overview of the salient linguistic characteristics of Kosraean English, based on the data collected will be presented and compared to features associated with standard American English in view of examining overlap and divergence. The overall objective is to present a cross-linguistic description of a hitherto unexamined English emerging in a postcolonial environment with a juxtaposed contact variety.

Mufwene, Salikoko S. 2001. The ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schneider, E. (2007). Postcolonial Englishes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Segal, H.G. (1989) Kosrae, The Sleeping Lady Awakens. Kosrae: Kosrae Tourist Division, Dept. Of Conservation and Development.

Keywords: American English, Global English, Pacific English, Morphosyntactic, Phonological, Variation, Discourse

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures

UniBE Contributor:

Lynch, Sara


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages




Sara Lynch

Date Deposited:

02 Mar 2016 11:12

Last Modified:

16 Sep 2016 18:27




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