Documentation of pragmatics and metapragmatics

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The pragmatics of minority languages are vulnerable to change early in language shift, and should therefore be included in language documentation. To research language shift and pragmatic change, 30 speakers of Hmong were interviewed in Wisconsin, using an oral Discourse Completion Task. Responses show that influence from Anglo-American pragmatics has affected younger speakers’ usage in Hmong; usage differences between the generations fall into three categories: sociopragmatic change, pragmalinguistic change, and metapragmatic change. Each of these may have an effect on intergenerational interaction, and thus, on conditions for intergenerational transmission. Pragmatics and metapragmatics matter because ordinary speakers, who construct their social worlds through linguistic interaction, may treasure tools that allow them to do so – pragmatic resources of their language.


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