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Transborder contact: Shifting patterns of linguistic differentiation in a Zapotec transborder community

  • Elizabeth Falconi EMAIL logo

Abstract

This article contributes to the study of linguistic differentiation in a Zapotec transborder community formed by migration between the village of San Juan Guelavía, Oaxaca, Mexico, and West Los Angeles, California. In the Tlacolula Valley of Oaxaca, an area characterized by remarkable linguistic diversity combined with extreme localism, the way a person speaks, whom they can understand and who can understand them marks their place on a complex sociolinguistic map. However, the contours of this map are shifting due to domestic and international migration patterns. Among Guelavians in Oaxaca judgments of sociolinguistic differences between speakers are often made on the basis of the particular linguistic variety spoken by an individual, and its perceived similarity or divergence from San Juan Guelavía Zapotec. In contrast, among Guelavian migrants in Los Angeles there is a widespread tendency to evaluate migrants from other Zapotec-speaking communities on the basis of where, when and to whom they speak Zapotec, regardless of the variety. By analyzing differences in the metalinguistic practices of Guelavians living in Oaxaca and Los Angeles this work contributes to understandings of the shifting relationship between language, locality and identity brought about by indigenous transborder migration.

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Published Online: 2016-06-14
Published in Print: 2016-07-01

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