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170LANGUAGE, VOLUME 66, NUMBER 1 (1990) Wardhaugh, Ronald. 1983. Language and nationhood: The Canadian experience. Vancouver : New Star Books. ------. 1985. How conversation works. Oxford: Basil BlackweU. ------. 1986. An introduction to sociolinguistics. Oxford: Basil BlackweU. Program in Linguistics[Received 1 August 1989; Stanley Coulter Hallrevision received 29 September 1989.] Purdue University W. Lafayette, IN 47907 Speaking Mexicano: Dynamics of syncretic language in Central Mexico. By Jane H. Hill and Kenneth C. Hill. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986. Pp. xii, 493. Cloth $40.00. Reviewed by Paul V. Kroskrity, University of California, Los Angeles Language contact and multilingualism are especially suited to investigation by linguistic anthropologists, because in the study of these areas a precise knowledge of the structures of the languages in contact must be combined with an understanding of many sociocultural factors that influence the form and extent of language contact and linguistic diffusion. In this impressive study of various Mexicano (Náhuatl) speech communities in the Malinche Volcano area of central Mexico, Jane and Kenneth Hill marshal data collected over more than a decade in providing a model demonstration of a sociolinguistic approach to the ongoing contact of Spanish and Mexicano. While the main title of this work, Speaking Mexicano, may suggest a simple primer in the prescriptive/pedagogical grammar mode, the book is in fact ambitious and inclusive in scope. H&H attempt to describe and understand syncretic language through careful attention to how members of the speech community use it among themselves—to its role in social life as an emblem of ethnic identity, as a means of economic transaction, and as a requirement of participation in kinship and ceremonial relationships. Thus the Hills confront far more than what is 'sayable' in terms of Mexicano grammar; they deal with what is actually said, with the relationship between Spanish and Mexicano as resources in the community's linguistic repertoire, and with the linguistic ideology which guides speakers' performance and evaluation of both of these languages. The book begins with four preparatory chapters. In the brief 'Introduction' (1-6) H&H frame their work by characterizing the language contact of Mexicano and Spanish as 'the syncretic project', a term which, they argue convincingly , better captures 'the work and creativity of the Mexicano speakers of the Malinche' than does the inherently pejorative notion of a 'mixed language '. The Hills thus examine the innovative linguistic adaptation of Náhuatl speakers to a social world in which the use of Spanish is increasingly important, rather than adopting a more conservative academic linguistic stance which values purism and often seeks to construct, in the name oflinguistic description, an artificially homogeneous native stratum (cf. Scollon 1979). While H&H scru- REVIEWS171 pulously avoid this academic form of linguistic purism, they directly confront the paradox of indigenous linguistic purism, which simultaneously elevates Mexicano as a symbol of a valued ethnic identity and yet denigrates Modern Mexicano as corrupted by several centuries of linguistic diffusion from Spanish. Both the Introduction and the second chapter, 'Land, society, and economy in the Malinche communities', detail the traditional cultural practices and values of Mexicano speakers and their increasing conflict with the subordinating influence of national and world economic forces. Thus, for example, traditional reliance on the cultivation of maize and other crops, along with a reliance on economic reciprocity between kinsmen, has yielded somewhat under great economic pressure to promote wage work in factories and general participation in a national cash economy. Daily life, as H&H trenchantly portray it, is both an economic and a symbolic struggle for the retention of local meanings and values , a struggle which necessitates compromise. As reproduced in language, these compromises are reflected not only in the general adaptation to bilingualism by Mexicano speakers but also in the increasing influence of Spanish in phonology, morphology, and lexicon. Ch. 2 succeeds well in conveying the macroeconomic and microethnographic forces that are shaping the form and extent of linguistic diffusion from Spanish. Ch. 3, 'Studying a syncretic way of speaking' (55-89), introduces the orthography used to present native language examples and offers a thorough methodological description and discussion. A focal concern here is the Hills' justification of their heavy reliance on sociolinguistic interviews conducted by a literate sixteen-year-old Mexicano...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 170-175
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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