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Language Contact and Language Change on Orchid Island
The thesis aims to discuss language contact and examine language changes in the Yami language. As a result of the shift of governing power, the Yami speech community was forced to come into contact with Japanese and Mandarin respectively. During the Japanese colonization period, Yami and Japanese were in complementary distribution. However, due to the limited Yami-Janpanese bilingualism, the speech community could only be regarded as diglossia without bilingualism. From 1945 to the late 1960s, as Yami came into contact with Mandarin, these two languages were highly domain-specific for different social functions. Meanwhile, with the quick development of Yami-Mandarin bilingualism, the speech community had developed into diglossia with bilingualism. Since the 1970s, as the locals have had more access to Mandarin, Yami-Mandarin bilingualism had been broadly established within the speech community, but Yami and Mandarin had not been as highly domain-specific as that in the past, which had turned the speech community into bilingualism without diglossia. As the thesis discusses language changes in Yami, the author focuses on the Japanese loanwords in Yami, phonetic variations between different social groups, and language use patterns. The results are as follows: firstly, the influx of Japanese loanwords concerning time and modern innovations has not only expanded the lexicon of Yami but also signified the development of time sense and material life in the Yami speech community. Secondly, phonetic variations have been observed among different social dialects classified by age, gender, and social network factors. The results indicate that participants of the younger age and the weaker social network groups have higher percentage of phonetic variations, which also manifest the phonetic unstability in the Yami language. Finally, as the language use patterns show, older generations and those with stronger social network ties use Yami more frequently than other groups. Besides, when speaking to someone of the same age or older, the Yami people are accustomed to using Yami. When talking to younger generations, the Yami people tend to speak Mandarin instead. It is worth noting that fifty percent of the middle-aged parents use Mandarin exclusively to communicate with their children at home, which would probably result in a rapid language shift from Yami to Mandarin within the speech community in the next few decades.
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