Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Vincent Crapanzano

Committee Members

Shirley Lindenbaum

Glenn Petersen

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Te 'Enana 'the people' of the Marquesas, French Polynesia, have been engaged for some time in the dialogic negotiation of their heteroglossic identity. Based on an ethnographic study of language socialization in the Marquesas, this dissertation examines how communicative forms are acquired within a changing socio-cultural matrix, as well as on how cultural habits and beliefs are produced and reproduced via verbal interaction.

My first two months of fieldwork were spent in Tahiti (the capital of French Polynesia), living and studying the language use and cultural patterns of an 'enana family. Subsequently, I spent ten months in a village in the Marquesas, taping at regular intervals the everyday interactions of children and their caregivers within four families and transcribing these with the aid of the caregivers. The transcripts and the caregiver metalinguistic commentary were analyzed for the contexts and functions of code-switching between francais (the local variety of French), 'enana (including several dialects of the language, spoken in the Marquesas), and sarapia (a stigmatized 'mixed' code); the communicative genres laden with cultural expectations as to how people ought to think, feel, and act; and the socializing routines influencing these beliefs and practices via participant-observation and informal interviews, I also collected a wide range of information concerning everyday social interactions, routine verbal practices, and cultural notions concerning the value, use, learning, and potential loss of the language. My findings are as follows.

Despite the flowering of a cultural revival movement, a complex political economic situation (beginning with the establishment of the French nuclear testing facility in 1963) is responsible for an increase in code-switching and decrease in the acquisition and use of 'enana by children. Nonetheless, the language continues to be learned and used by many as both medium and marker of an ethnolinguistic identity which is the syncretic product of indigenous reactions to two centuries of foreign influence and rule. Furthermore, while bearing the partial imprimatur of western thought and practice, 'enana ways of structuring verbal interaction and the acquisition of communicative resources reveal some deeper systemic commitments to pan-Pacific cultural and communicative practices.


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