Regional Variability and Ethnic Identity: Chinese Americans in New York City and San Francisco

Amy Wing-mei Wong, Lauren Hall-Lew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper examines the realizations of the BOUGHT vowel (in words like ‘taught’ and ‘sauce’) by Chinese Americans of Cantonese heritage in New York City and San Francisco. Quantitative analyses find that Chinese Americans in the two cities pronounce BOUGHT in ways that are more similar to their respective regional patterns than to one another. We argue that the quantitative results should be interpreted by considering the complex semiotic links this variable has with respect to non-Asian ethnicities and by considering speakers’ negotiations of their local and cultural identities amidst different (and changing) sociohistorical contexts. We propose that regional features can index not just regional identity but also its intersection with ethnicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
JournalLanguage and Communication
Volume35
Early online date2 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

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