Language, Identity, and Writing: Investigating Marshallese English through Academic Writing



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English has emerged as an international language. The hegemonic positioning of English is problematic for previously colonized places such as the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The remote coral atoll Pacific Island nation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands has a history of colonization. Critical Literacy supports reflective analysis of social constructs created and used in language to reveal power structures and be a source of change. Language is a significant piece of culture transmitting ideas, information, world view, and culture. Marshall Islanders, at home and abroad, interact in English. World Englishes establishes validity for variations of language, specifically English, within the context that it is used. There is a need to recognize and validate Marshallese English as a World English.

 This mixed methods study examined the grammatical and lexical elements in a corpus of Marshallese authored academic English writing. 

 The findings were then expanded upon by Marshallese culture member interviews, to correlate the findings with Marshallese language and culture.

 The findings identified connections between Marshallese language and culture and Marshallese English. Grammatical differences between English and Marshallese, as well as differing epistemologies were evidenced in the data. Key findings include linguistic representation of politeness, social hierarchy, language, and funds of knowledge. Identifying Marshallese English elements in the corpus reinforced the value of first language identity, as well as informed instruction in English and all content areas for bilingual Marshallese people.

 This research project contributed to the body of knowledge on Marshallese, Marshallese English. This asset based approach to biliteracy strengthened Marshallese linguistic connections.



World Englishes, Marshallese, Marshallese English, Second language writing, Decolonization, Bilingual, Writing analysis, Second language writing analysis, Critical literacy