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Issues in Applied Linguistics

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Living in a Second Language: Self-Representation in Reported Dialogues of Latinas’ Narratives of Personal Language Experiences


This study analyzes self-representation in narratives of personal language experiences among five Latina immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador living in Los Angeles. Unexpected events in the narratives take the discursive form of reported dialogues between Latinas and the people they interact with in daily communicative exchanges in different social settings, both private and public (home, school, hospitals, shopping malls, and nightclubs). Far from being victimized and despite their level of English proficiency (beginner to intermediate), this group of Latinas portrays themselves as intervening in discriminatory situations that jeopardize their language and ethnicity, and as restoring the moral order violated in the narratives. Self-representation in their narratives of language experiences is analyzed through the quotation formula chosen to introduce the reported dialogues together with the most significant prosodic features of the narrative components: unexpected event, response, and attempt (Ochs & Capps, 2001). The degree of discursive agency (De Fina, 2003) exemplified in these narratives shows different strategies of resistance and empowerment among this group of Latinas.

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