“Watching Television” or “Looking at Pictures”

Chinese American Elders Encountering Historical Displacement, Orders of Indexicality, and Shifting Linguistic Modernities

‘ 睇TV’或‘睇緊畫’: 美國華裔長者遇到的歷 史移位,指示序,和移變的語言現代性

in Journal of Chinese Overseas
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This paper looks at the narratives of Hoisan-wa-speaking elders and Hoisan heritage people in northern California. By discursively analyzing these narratives in terms of orders of indexicality, I show how Hoisan-wa is seen as disrupting a future-oriented ideology of modernity, and how this impacts on Chinese American monolingual Hoisan-wa elders. Because shifts have taken place in terms of what languages are considered “modern” and “useful”, and because of the resulting linguistic marginalization, reified by both international and national media and local-level discourses about languages, Hoisan-heritage elders experience a set of pressures to which many, including their families, might not be well attuned: feelings of being linguistically left out/behind and silenced in multiple contexts that they consider “home.” Thus, it is critical to attend to the enmeshing of these elders’ personal and public histories with larger sociolinguistic histories.

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