Palauan English as a newly emerging postcolonial variety in the Pacific

Type Journal Article - Language, Information
Title Palauan English as a newly emerging postcolonial variety in the Pacific
Volume 19
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 137-167
URL and Britain - 2012 - Palauan English as a newly emerging​postcolonial variety in the Pacific.pdf
The Republic of Palau/Beluu er a Belau is an independent nation state of the Western Pacifi c, consisting of
an archipelago of around 350 small islands stretched across 400 miles of ocean. Its nearest neighbours are
Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the south, the Federated States of Micronesia to the east, Guam and
the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to the northeast, and the Philippines to the west. The
islands have a population of around 20,000, of which over 60% live in the largest city and former capital of
Koror in 2005 (Offi ce of Planing and Statistics 2006: 23). The capital, in 2006, was moved to Ngerulmud,
in Melekeok State on the main island of Babeldaob. For most of the 20th century, Palau was under colonial
administration: by Spain (1885–1899), Germany (1899–1914), Japan (1914–1945), and fi nally, the United
States of America (1945–1994). It formally gained its independence in 1994.
This article examines the emergence of an Anglophone speech community in Palau, and aims to do
three things: firstly to set the emergence of Palauan English into the context of the country’s complex
colonial past. Palau’s four colonial rulers have exercised control in different ways, with different degrees of
settler migration, different attitudes towards the function of Palau as a ‘colony’, and widely differing local
policies, leading to very different linguistic outcomes in each case. The article focusses, however, on the
American era and the path to Palauan independence. Secondly, in examining the development of English in
Palau, it attempts to apply Schneider’s (2007) ‘Dynamic Model’ of postcolonial English formation to this
Anglophone community. This model attempts to provide a holistic social, historical, political and
attitudinal as well as linguistic account of the process by which a new English emerges in a colonial
environment. As we will see, the case of Palau is important, because few communities in which English has emerged as a result of American as opposed to British colonialism have been examined in the model to
date. The final aim is to present, based on analyses of recordings of informal conversations among
Palauans, an initial portrait of the main phonological, grammatical and lexical characteristics of Palauan

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