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American Indian English
William L. Leap
Linguistics / American Indian
American Indian English documents and examines the diversity of English in American Indian speech communities. It presents a convincing case for the fundamental influence of ancestral Native American languages on respective modern Indian English codes.
A distillation of over twenty years’ experience, William Leap’s pioneering work on the varieties of American Indian English explores the linguistic and sociolinguistic characteristics of language use among Navajo, Hopi, Mojave, Ute, Tsimshian, Kotzebue, Ponca, Chilcotin, Seminole, Cherokee, and other American Indian tribes.
Unlike contemporary studies on schooling, ethnicity, empowerment, and educational failure, American Indian English avoids postmodernist jargon and discourse strategies in favor of direct description and commentary. Data are derived from real-life conditions faced by speakers of Indian English in various English-speaking settings. This practical focus enhances the book’s accessibility to Indian educators and community-based teachers, as well as non-Indian academics.
William L. Leap is professor of anthropology and chair of the Anthropology Department at American University in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents:
1. Speakers and Speech Communities
2. Sound Patterns, Sentence Forms, and Meanings
3. The Ancestral Language Base
4. Diversity and Contrast
5. Thoughts on the History of Indian English
6. Functions of Indian English
7. Context of Schooling on the Northern Ute Reservation
8. Drawing References When Reading
9. Question-answering as Story-telling
10. Writing Ute English
Praise and Reviews:
“A milestone in the study of tribal languages in the long historic wake of interaction with English and other languages foreign to the New World. Required reading for all students and speakers of American Indian languages.”
“[Leap’s] discussions of sociolinguistic factors and discourse characteristics are fascinating.”
“Very rewarding to anyone—Indian and non-Indian alike—who has been exposed to forms of English used in Indian communities and wondered exactly what it was that gives those dialects their distinctive qualities.”
—American Indian Culture and Research
“Recommended reading for all those working with language and Native American communities.”
—Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
“A convincing case for the fundamental influence of ancestral American Indian languages and cultures on spoken and written expression in different Indian English codes. The practical focus enhances the book’s accessibility to Indian educators and community-based teachers, as well as non-Indian academics.”
—Nation Advisory Council on Indian Education
“In this fine and important book, [Leap] sums up this research clearly and elegantly, and provides one of the best examples of applied sociolinguistics that has been published so far. A responsible book, and a major contribution to both scholarship and practice in the field.”