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  • Equatorial Guinean Migrants in Spain. An Analysis of implicit Discourse
  • Catalina Iliescu Gheorghiu

Rather than making a theoretical point, this paper intends to provide support for an analysis model of implicitness in non-fictional, non-professional discourse. By applying it to self-narrations of life-stories, I hope to demonstrate not only its methodological viability for this type of discourse (almost monological, highly emotional and requiring a special trust with the interviewer) and in this particular case of Equatoguinean emixiles in Spain, but also its efficacy as a tool for Postcolonial Studies which researchers might apply to the discourse of migrants from former colonies who settled after independence in the metropolis. Such may be the case of Indians and Pakistanis in UK, or Algerians in France, who manage invisibility or empowerment issues. This methodological tool might help researchers better to understand non-verbalized problems that migrants face between their present and their past.

Aims, Hypothesis, Corpus and Methodology

In this study I will approach the four dimensions of implicit discourse as they manifest in the self-narrations of six Equatoguineans living in Spain (Alicante) who belong to the four main ethnic minorities: the Fang (originally from the mainland region, organized in clans by common ancestor lineage and traditionally ruled by chieftains, whose language is Fang), the Bubi (territorially bound, organized in clans and by common ancestor lineage, whose relations are traditionally based on chieftaincies and kingdoms and whose language is Bubi, although nowadays they speak Pichi), the Anobonese (descendants from slaves settled on the island of Anobon on the way to America, whose language is Fâ d'ambo and whose organisation [End Page 169] has no clan subdivisions), and the Ndowe (from the mainland coastal region, who speak ndowe and preserve their organization in clans and by common ancestor lineage). As Aixelà shows ("Equatorial Guinean" 51), there are other two minorities: the Bisio (who maintain a clan organization on territory that is not clearly defined) and the Fernandinos, originally from Sierra Leona and Ghana (brought by the British to the island of Bioko to work the plantations where they mixed with descendants of freed slaves from Liberia), whose language is English and are of the Protestant faith, unlike the rest of the groups who combine Catholicism and ancestral rite. This variety of identities plays a crucial role in the shaping of the Equatoguinean diaspora and cross-border activism, and is reflected in my interviewees' stances and discourse. Although implicitness has been considered by pragmalinguists in the last two decades (with insights into literary, journalistic, specialized discourse), Ruiz Ruiz innovatively applies it to social discourse because, as he claims, "all social discourse contains implicit elements" (173). Following in his footsteps, I intend to investigate implicitness in Equatoguinean migrants' life-stories. First because the theoretical framework provided by pragmalinguistics and Gricean conversational maxims in general and by the four-dimension model of implicitness in particular seems to be an appropriate grid of analysis for this "delving into traumas" type of discourse and can open a line of interdisciplinary research. Secondly, because this theoretical framework has been applied to discourse analysis mainly in fiction (narrative, drama) or situational communication (specialised/professional interaction) but less to the self-narration of exile (except perhaps for war victims or asylum interviews). The premise of this investigation is that discourse is sufficiently resourceful to allow a speaker to conceal or insinuate whenever (s)he cannot/does not want to be explicit and I will provide some empirical data to support this idea. My hypothesis is that my interviewees' choice for implicit discourse is often related to exile, totalitarianism and fear of both direct reprisals (against their activism or militancy) and indirect reprisals (against relatives inside the country) and that the two intentional dimensions of implicitness are more frequently used than the unintentional ones.

The empirical material I analysed was extracted from the transcript of six guided in-depth interviews (several sessions of between one and three hours) with Equatoguinean residents in the region of Alicante (Spain), who narrated their migration/exile life-stories. The interview contained 113 questions divided into three sections: family and childhood; youth and studies; social network and exile...


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