SLS 499: Directed Reading
Note: The following article was written as an independent study project for SLS 499, instructed by Steven Talmy of the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It is reproduced below in its incomplete form, as several sections have yet to be completed. Please pardon any errors or omissions. Refer to the References section for additional information on the topic.
Language Shift among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans
The topic of language shift among Americas linguistic minority groups has received increasing interest from ESL researchers and sociolinguists. This increase of attention may be attributed in large part to efforts of the English Only movement and proposals for a Constitutional amendment to make English the official language of the United States (Crawford, 1996). These efforts by language extremists have propelled researchers in various fields to examine the roles that language plays for minority groups across America. Although contradictory to the beliefs of language exclusion groups such as English Only, a common finding of research into language use among American minorities is that many of these groups are rapidly losing their heritage languages in the efforts to acquire English and integrate into American society (Veltman, 1983; Crawford, 1999).
One of the language minority groups in Hawaii whose history
has been studied extensively is the Japanese-American (Sato, 1981 & 1991;
Kawamoto, 1993; Tamura, 1993 & 1996). Several comprehensive studies have
also been prepared that examine contemporary issues that relate to language
use among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans (Usui, 1996; Kondo, 1999). In the
following literature review, I will look at the available material that is concerned
directly with language issues of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii in addition to
other issues relevant to this groups overall experience with language
I will begin this review by exploring the phenomenon of language shift as studied by linguists, sociologists, and second language researchers. I will then delve into the early history of the subjects of my review, Hawaiis Japanese-Americans, beginning with the first generation of immigrants and their efforts of cultural and linguistic maintenance. Next, I will look at the effects that the two world wars had on the Japanese-American community in Hawaii. In the following section, I will examine the issues involved in the gradual process of this communitys language shift, from monolingual Japanese to various forms of bilingualism to monolingual English. Then I will discuss some present and future trends of language shift in general and in Hawaiis Japanese community, including language revival. In conclusion, I will propose ideas for future research in this area of language study.
Language shift is a sociolinguistic phenomenon observed and reported extensively during the last half of the 20th century by researchers in various locations and settings throughout the world. Perhaps some of the earliest and most well-known research of language shift was conducted in the United States in the 1960s by linguist Joshua Fishman using U.S. Census Bureau data (Veltman, 1983). His methods and analyses have been used and expanded upon by researchers in this field since this time, in particular by linguist Calvin Veltman (1981; 1983), whose comprehensive book Language Shift in the United States is considered to be the first complete attempt to assess the macrosociological process by which minority language groups are assimilated to the English language majority (1983, 1). Further, more recent reports have been compiled in the United States by researcher James Crawford regarding Native-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American language shift (1996; 1999).
Language researchers in the Canadian province of Quebec also have been extremely interested in language shift. Consequently, many important and influential reports have been produced regarding French-to-English language shift and Native-American-languages-to-English language shift (Veltman, 1983; Crawford, 1996). These studies in turn also have influenced research of language shift in the United States.
Concerning the current topic of language shift among Hawaiis Japanese- Americans, several researchers have conducted studies into this matter both directly and indirectly. Sato (1981, 1989, & 1991) wrote extensively about language use in Hawaii and talked about the shifting language use among the Japanese-American community. Tamura (1993 & 1996) also reported about the various shifts of language use that has occurred within the Japanese-American community in Hawaii on lines as similar to those of Sato. Additionally, Kondos dissertation Japanese Language Learning, Academic Achievement and Identity: voices of new second generation Japanese American university students in Hawaii (1998) traces some of the history of language use among the same ethnic group while examining language use and attitudes of recent immigrants and their American-born children.
Perhaps one of the most specific works to date about language shift of Hawaiis Japanese-Americans is Usuis 1996 Masters thesis An Ethnographic Perspective on Language Shift, Maintenance and Revitalization: Japanese in Hawaii. In her thesis, Usui reports about the phenomenon of language shift within the context of the Japanese-American community in Hawaii and their past and current efforts to maintain and revitalize their heritage language.
Interestingly, within the previous references cited there is not one definition of language shift. Each author who writes about the subject refers to it as if it were a commonly understood and recognized term. In Veltmans seminal work on the topic, he neglects to explicitly define language shift but implicitly gives his meaning when he says that he will examine the structure, the extent, and the pace of language shift from minority language groups to the dominant national language [my emphasis] (1983, 11). This is the closest that he comes in the entire book to giving a definition of the linguistic process.
Throughout his articles on the topic within his web site (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/jwcrawford/home.htm), Crawford also does not give a definition of language shift. Additionally, he seems to limit his discussion of language shift to language loss. For instance, in his paper Heritage Languages in American: tapping a hidden resource (1999), Crawford states, Language shift is especially acute in Native American communities, where about one-third of indigenous tongues have disappeared since the coming of Columbus (HL.html). This statement seems to imply that language shift equals language loss; however, in a careful review of the literature on the subject, language loss seems to be just one of the aspects of language shift in addition to bilingualism and revitalization.
Also, in her Masters thesis Usui (1996) takes steps in the introduction of her paper to define many of the phenomena and terms used throughout her report, with the exclusion of language shift. It seems that she too has reached the conclusion that the term is commonly known enough that it does not require a formal definition.
Perhaps I am being too critical to expect a working definition of language shift from these researchers before beginning a study of this complex linguistic process. However, without background knowledge of this topic, the term potentially could be mistaken for any number of concepts, for instance bilingual code switching or strictly language loss. Therefore, without a reference for a formal definition I will define language shift as used throughout this review by combining inferences from several sources as a sociolinguistic process whereby a specific linguistic minority group transitions either towards or away from a majority language with or without the inclusion of the heritage language. Furthermore, I would point out that this definition implies a continuum between heritage language monolingualism and majority language monolingualism (which results in heritage language loss), with varying degrees of bilingualism in the intermediary.
Having stated a working definition of language shift for reference purposes, I will now attempt to thoroughly examine the subjects of this literature review in the context of this linguistic process.
IMMIGRATION OF FIRST JAPANESE TO HAWAII
The first Japanese in Hawaii are reported to have arrived in the early 19th century as shipwrecked sailors (Nordyke, 1977). In 1868, a group of Japanese contract laborers were secretly brought to Hawaii by the states consul general during the period of Japanese isolationism when emigration was prohibited by law. These early contract laborers were predominantly poor farmers from Japans southwest provinces who came to work the cane fields of Hawaii with dreams of amassing enough riches to return to Japan to live a better life than before (Takaki, 1989; Usui, 1996). However, these first Japanese immigrants also faced hardships in Hawaii and complained of contract violation and mistreatment by their employers. After many years of treaty negotiation between Japan and Hawaii, including a visit to Japan by Hawaiis King Kalakaua in 1881, Japanese were again brought to Hawaii as contract laborers for the sugar planters (Nordyke, 1977). The pace of Japanese immigration to Hawaii picked up considerably from 1884 when the Japanese government lifted a long-standing ban on emigration by its citizens (Nordyke, 1977; Jones, 1992). Over the course of the next 40 years, more than 200,000 Japanese men, women (including picture brides), and children (of previous immigrants) immigrated to Hawaii under the contract labor system until the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 effectively halted all Japanese immigration to America. Although many of the early Japanese in Hawaii returned to their homeland after their contracts were fulfilled, many more chose to remain in Hawaii; hence, by the 1900 census, Japanese comprised the largest ethnic group in the Hawaiian Islands (Nordyke, 1977; Takaki, 1987).
CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC MAINTENANCE
Having originally planned to return to Japan as soon as their contracts expired, the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii sought to maintain their culture and language in their temporary home. However, for most of them the dream of returning with American wealth was illusive, and many Japanese began families and made Hawaii their new homes. This also promoted cultural and linguistic maintenance practices, since the early Japanese in Hawaii wished to pass on their heritage to their children born in America. In addition to cultural festivals, folk music, and stories, the first generation Japanese also maintained their culture and language through the establishment of heritage language schools and a thriving press (Kawamoto, 1993; Tamura, 1993).
Heritage Language Schools
The first Japanese language school opened on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1893. Within the next thirty years, another 159 of these schools opened throughout Hawaii, enrolling almost 98% of the children of Japanese ancestry in the islands. These schools were founded as a supplement to the public school system, and children attended them each afternoon when their regular schools finished. The curriculums of these schools were established by the Japanese Ministry of Education, which also recruited teachers for the schools (Usui, 1996).
The Japanese heritage language schools taught their students more than just language; they also taught their students Japanese culture (Kawamoto, 1993; Usui, 1996). Customs, manners, and history were part of the curriculum in addition to speaking, reading and writing. In addition, children daily sang the Japanese national anthem and pledged allegiance to the Japanese emperor, practices that later would be held against the schools and the Japanese community as suspicious and un-American (Usui, 1996).
According to Cummins (1983), the term heritage language generally refers to the community ethnocultural language which is not necessarily the childs first-learned language (or even used in the home) (1). Although several researchers (Kawamoto, 1993; Usui 1996) refer to the early Japanese language schools as heritage language schools, it may be more appropriate to refer to them simply as language schools, since Japanese was probably the first language and the family language of the students of these schools. Based on Cummins definition of heritage language, it seems that as the language use of Hawaiis Japanese-Americans shifted, so shifted the emphasis of the language schools from that of Japanese as a first language to Japanese as a second language or heritage language.
In addition to language schools, the Japanese in Hawaii established a flourishing press soon after their arrival. By 1920, 35 separate Japanese language newspapers had been printed in Hawaii. Many of these served to inform Hawaiis Japanese about events back in the homeland and to help new immigrants adjust to life in a foreign land (Kawamoto, 1993). Hawaiis active Japanese press also produced religious publications, books, and information pamphlets, including strike-related and immigration-related materials (Tamura, 1996). The Japanese press played a large role in helping the first and second generation Japanese in Hawaii maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage.
JAPANESE LANGUAGE SHIFT
Although the early Japanese immigrants to Hawaii made serious efforts to maintain their language and culture, the community has experienced several periods of language shift. Many researchers over the past several decades and from within the same community have reported these shifts of language use. One of the most prominent researchers was Sato, who reported the shift from Japanese to HCE dominance within the community during Hawaiis plantation years (1981 & 1989) and about the next shift towards Standard English following Hawaiis economic and social changes after W.W.II (1981). Later, Sato would report about the effects of decreolization of HCE towards its English acrolect, thereby prompting another language shift within Hawaiis Japanese-American community (1991). Tamura (1993 & 1996) published reports of language shift similar to those of Sato. Usui (1996) and Kondos (1999) papers also discussed the process of language shift among the Japanese-Americans of Hawaii with the added element of recent language revitalization efforts.
Hawaii Creole English (HCE)
One of the first causes of language shift in Hawaiis Japanese community was the development of Hawaii Pidgin English (HPE) on the sugar cane plantations around the turn of the 20th century (Sato, 1989 & 1991; Kawamoto, 1993; Tamura, 1996). HPE developed from the plantation contact of Hawaiian, English, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese workers. An unstable and variable pidgin, it contained English and Hawaiian vocabulary spoken with the phonology and syntax of the first language of the individual speaker (Sato, 1989). With the advent of HPE, the first generation of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii gradually became bilingual in Japanese and HPE.
The next significant development in the history of language shift among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans was the transition of HPE to the stable creole Hawaii Creole English (HCE). This came about as the first speakers of HPE had children born in Hawaii with HPE as their first language (Sato, 1989; Kawamoto, 1993; Tamura, 1996). The result of this shift of language usage was predominant bilingualism by the second generation Japanese-Americans in HCE and Japanese (Tamura, 1996).
Influence of WWI
Another major factor that affected language shift within Hawaiis Japanese-American community was the First World War (WWI). A wave of hysterical nationalism and Americanization campaigns swept across the United States and eventually reached Hawaii at the end of the war. While the mainland Americanization efforts focused on European immigrant groups, the Japanese were the object of the efforts in Hawaii (Tamura, 1993). The overt aim of the Americanization campaigns was to promote national unity by encouraging immigrants to become naturalized citizens, to learn English, and to learn and respect American institutions and ideas. A covert aim of these campaigns was to persuade Americas immigrant groups to reject their heritage (Jones, 1992).
The Japanese language press was the first target of the Americanizers in Hawaii. At the time of WWI there were more than a dozen Japanese language publications in Hawaii serving to help maintain the literacy and heritage culture of the first generation Japanese (Tamura, 1993). Japanese newspapers came under attack out of fear that they promoted Japanism, interest and pride in things Japanese, and thus disloyalty to the United States (41). As a result, Hawaiis territorial legislature passed a law requiring non-English language publications that referred to governments, laws, or controversial issues to supply English translations (Tamura, 1993). However, this law was never enforced, so the Americanization effort to control the Japanese language press had little direct effect on language shift during this period.
The greater issue of the Americanization campaigns in Hawaii following WWI was the Japanese language schools (Tamura, 1993). Opponents of these schools argued that they promoted Japanism and interfered with English language acquisition. The Territorial Legislature of Hawaii passed a series of laws in 1920 with the intent to abolish Japanese language schools. The Japanese community fought these laws through the various court systems until 1927 when the U.S. Supreme Court declared the laws unconstitutional. As a result, Japanese language schools actually experienced an upsurge in enrollments (Tamura, 1993). While the efforts by Americanizers to close these schools did not directly affect language shift in Hawaiis Japanese-American community during this period, the same arguments and research used at this time were used again to close the schools during the next world war.
Influence of WWII
Perhaps one of the greatest factors that contributed to language shift within the Japanese-American community of Hawaii was the Second World War (WWII). During this time period, Japanese language schools were completely shut down and Japanese cultural and linguistic maintenance efforts all but ceased (Usui, 1996). On the American West Coast, Japanese-Americans were interned in camps during the war, and Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were afraid that the same thing would happen to them (Takaki, 1987). Therefore, Japanese-Americans stopped using Japanese in public and even in private, and took pains to erase all traces of their connection to their heritage for fear that they would be labeled un-American and as spies (Usui, 1996).
In addition, almost ten thousand military-age second-generation Japanese-Americans in Hawaii registered for the draft and enlisted in the armed forces to fight for their country to prove their loyalty (Usui, 1996; Takaki, 1987). Many of them served as translators in the Pacific Arena for the Military Intelligence Service while others served in battalions fighting in Europe. This group of enlisted men became some of the most decorated American soldiers of WWII for their bravery and valor (Takaki, 1987).
One of the results of the anti-Japanese sentiments in Hawaii and the enlistment of large numbers of second-generation Japanese-American men during WWII was a rapid shift of language use in the community from bilingualism in Japanese and HCE or English to monolingualism in English. Both the Japanese-Americans who remained in Hawaii throughout the war and those who went away to war found it necessary to speak English to prove their loyalty and to show that they were true Americans. Therefore, heritage language maintenance efforts completely ceased, and English became the dominant language used by the group.
***NOTE: THIS SECTION CONTAINS INCOMPLETE
Power of Community Language
"English Standard" schools
Hawaii Creole English & Standard English
Rickford & Romaine, 1999
Thomas & Cao, 1999
Power and Politics
Politics and language use
After examining the history of shifting language use within the Japanese-American community of Hawaii, we can now turn our attention to the current situation. Presently, Hawaiis Japanese-Americans continue to maintain their culture and language in many different ways. In addition, several language schools remain open that teach American-born children of Japanese ancestry their heritage language, history and culture. Based on these present trends, we can predict a continued effort of language revitalization into the near future.
Continued Culture Maintenance
Regarding practices within the Japanese-American community of Hawaii that could be considered cultural maintenance, there seems to be very little information in the literature. Kawamoto (1993) reported the existence of Japanese radio and television stations and several newspapers on the island of Oahu. He also mentioned the now-completed Japanese Cultural Center in Honolulu (204). The only author who devoted more than just a few sentences to current culture maintenance practices of Hawaiis Japanese-Americans is Usui (1996). She also talks about the broadcast and printed media found in Hawaii but refers to them as institutional support for Japanese-American cultural maintenance. Additionally, Usui also mentions the many Japanese restaurants, supermarkets, bookstores and other companies found in Hawaii (22).
In addition to the previously cited aspects of Japanese culture that currently exist in Hawaii, the literature does not mention several other important elements. Hawaii has numerous Japanese temples and other places of worship throughout the islands that continue to attract Japanese-Americans, immigrant Japanese, and visiting Japanese. Hawaii has several Japanese-language magazines, including Kokiku, which is bilingual Japanese and English, and the Japanese Beach Press. Honolulu is the home of several popular bon dances during obon season, a festival time of the year when people honor their deceased relatives, pray for good harvests, and come together as a community. Each year on the Ala Wai Canal, the Japanese Lantern Festival is held to honor the deceased. A large matsuri (street festival) takes place in Waikiki each year and is sponsored by the Japanese Travel Bureau (JTB) and several local community organizations. It attracts thousands of Japanese tourists and local Japanese-Americans as well as other tourists and local residents. Also, each year in Honolulu the Japanese recording industry sponsors the Japanese Song Fest, an event in which contestants sing popular Japanese songs to win prizes.
Each of these elements of Japanese culture are practiced in various combinations and to varying degrees by many members of Hawaiis Japanese-American community in an effort to maintain and continue their heritage.
Heritage Language Schools
Although several researchers have written about the history of Japanese heritage language schools in Hawaii, only Usui (1996) and Kondo (1999) have mentioned their current status. According to both authors, only 12 Japanese language schools currently exist on the island of Oahu. However, these schools vary immensely in their purposes and curriculums. Most of the Japanese language schools (Nihongo gakkoo) appear to be little more than day care centers with the addition of Japanese language lessons (Kondo, 1999). Only Rainbow Japanese language school seems to offer a program that strives for Japanese language maintenance and literacy. One of the dilemmas facing these language schools is that many students consider the Nihongo gakkoo to be too easy and Rainbow school to be too difficult (Matsuda, 1997 cited in Kondo, 1999). Unfortunately, both Usui and Kondo reached the conclusion that Hawaiis Japanese heritage language schools are not adequately meeting the needs of its students in terms of language maintenance.
Another phenomenon that is reportedly occurring within Hawaiis Japanese-American community related to language shift is that of revitalization. According to researchers, language revitalization efforts seem to currently be taking place. Evidence of this may be found in data collected from Hawaiis community college and university level Japanese courses. Kawamoto (1993) states that enrollment in Japanese language classes at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are among the highest levels in the United States. He also points out the fact that the large enrollments may be partly due to the heightened level of Japanese-American relations over the past decade.
Usui (1996) reports the finding that 70% of the students enrolled in Japanese language classes in the U.H. system are of Japanese ancestry. She also claims that Japanese language classes at the high school, college, university, and adult education levels are all experiencing increased enrollment of both Japanese-Americans and non-Japanese-Americans. She asserts that language classes play a critical role for Japanese language revitalization because of its importance as a domain for communication since the home is no longer a primary domain for Japanese language use. In addition, Usui infers that the ones leading revitalization efforts are recent immigrants who wish their children to maintain their Japanese language abilities, and the children of second and third generation Japanese-Americans who experienced hardships in Hawaii associated with their heritage over the first half of the 20th century.
More evidence of revitalization comes from Kondo (1999) who believes that the new second generation Japanese-Americans (children of recent immigrants) are playing the key role in these efforts at the college and university levels. However, Kondo points to the problem of literacy in Japanese among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans. According to her research, many fluent Japanese speakers are nearly illiterate in the written language due to the limited necessity and domains of its usage in Hawaii.
CONCLUSION/ FUTURE RESEARCH
When first developing the ideas behind this study, I had very little knowledge of the complex history of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii, let alone of their language experiences since the arrival of the first immigrants. Originally thinking that very little information existed regarding the language use of Hawaiis Japanese-Americans, I found the opposite to be true. Through a combination of material from historians, linguists, psychologists, sociologists, and second language researchers, a thorough, though not quite complete, picture of language shift in Hawaiis Japanese community may be pieced together. Although this project has not completely satisfied my original curiosity regarding language use among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans, in fact I have more questions now than when I began, I do have a much better understanding of and appreciation for the various issues involved.
The first wave of monolingual Japanese immigrants to Hawaii made serious efforts to maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage through the establishment of Japanese language schools and the perpetuation of their cultural practices. Due to a combination of linguistic maintenance efforts and the plantation life of these immigrants, the language use of the Japanese-American community in Hawaii gradually shifted to bilingualism in their heritage language and in the plantation pidgin, Hawaii Pidgin English (HPE).
The early Japanese-Americans succeeded in defending their heritage language maintenance against the tide of Americanization campaigns that reached Hawaii following World War I. However, the suspicion of anything Japanese following the attack on Pearl Harbor led to another language shift among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans. Language schools were closed, the Japanese press was shut down, and public displays of Japanese cultural practices were forbidden.
After World War II, many Japanese-Americans, in an effort to show their continued allegiance to America, suspended their cultural and linguistic maintenance. The result was largely an attempt at English monolingualism by Hawaiis Japanese-Americans. A generation later, the actual result of this attempt was a mixture of language use practices: monolingual English as the most dominant, monolingual HCE (the creolized form of HPE), bilingual English/ HCE, and any of the previous with the addition of varying degrees of Japanese language abilities.
At the close of the 20th century, another language shift among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans has been observed and reported. Many recent Japanese immigrants are making serious efforts at achieving bilingualism in English and Japanese for themselves and for their children. In addition, many third and fourth generation Japanese-Americans are studying Japanese due to the heightened value and prestige of Japanese as an international language and also to connect with their cultural heritage. These efforts by Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants are helping create a resurgence of Japanese language use in their community.
Several researchers have already reported about the revitalization of Japanese language use among Hawaiis Japanese-Americans (Usui, 1996; Kondo, 1999). They have identified some of the factors that contribute to and some of the factors that inhibit this revitalization. With this established, for future research I would propose a comprehensive investigation of Japanese-language revitalization in Hawaii with the objective of developing a set of recommendations for the Japanese-American community that encourage and perpetuate this trend. Perhaps if such a set of researched suggestions were made available, the Japanese-American community would be better prepared for producing fluent and competent Japanese-English bilinguals in the future.
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