Linguistic Anthropology Seminar: May 14 2021, 2pm

See below for details on the scheduled Linguistic Anthropology Seminar, upcoming on Friday, May 14. The seminar will be a virtual event, with access link to be circulated separately.

Linguistic Anthropology Seminar: Friday May 14 2021, 2pm

Presenter: Nathan Wendte, UVa Linguistics Lecturer

Title: “Vini moun Tèksas: Becoming Texan”

Abstract: In the Gulf South region of the United States, Creoles have historically been defined by distinct cultural and linguistic practices (Istre 2018). As an ethnolinguistic identity label, “Creole” encompasses and presumes certain linguistic behaviors and competencies. Although most often associated with the state of Louisiana, a steady stream of Creole migrants for more than a century has resulted in a large diaspora living across the border in Texas. This diaspora, however, does not uniformly retain their Creole identity. Like all identity categories, “Creole” is an ideologically informed, discursively constructed, and contextually dependent phenomenon (Bucholtz and Hall 2005). Despite the relatively short migration distance between them, Texas and Louisiana represent markedly different cultural contexts. Drawing from qualitative interviews conducted with Texas-resident (n=32) and Louisiana-resident Creoles (n=28), this paper explores the variable role that language practices—and the discourses surrounding them—play in Creoles becoming Texan. These interviews were collected over a period of four years in association with the author’s dissertation fieldwork. I extracted those interview segments which concern language practices and discovered that language loss in and of itself was not sufficient to explain why Texas-resident Creoles may choose to stop identifying as Creoles. Instead, it is the choice to dissociate ideologically with aspects of Louisiana (notably past rural origins) that drives people to abandon Creole identity. Such choices are perceived by both Texas-resident and Louisiana-resident Creoles to be reflected in individual language practices.

Keywords: ethnolinguistic identity, Louisiana Creoles, internal migration, borderlands


Bucholtz, M., and Kira Hall. 2005. “Identity and Interaction: A Sociocultural Linguistic Approach.” Discourse Studies 7 (4–5): 585–614.

Istre, Elista. 2018. Creoles of South Louisiana: Three Centuries Strong. Lafayette, LA: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press.