Domain analysis of contemporary Chinese American language use in northern California: Some implications for minoritized Chinese languages in the U.S.

Genevieve Leung


This paper uses domain analysis to look the language use of 93 Chinese American people of Hoisan heritage in northern California. Hoisan-wa is one of the languages linking all early Chinese immigrants to the U.S., but no substantive research has focused solely on people of this language and cultural heritage. Participants were asked to self-report their language proficiencies and use across domains for four languages (Hoisan-wa, Cantonese, Mandarin and English). Results show that Hoisan-wa is used most with grandparents and parents, and the younger generation used Cantonese more than Hoisan-wa. English prevailed as the language used by the younger generation. Mandarin was not used with much frequency across all generation groups.  This research offers implications for Hoisan-wa and other minoritized Chinese languages in the U.S. currently under pressure because of “Chinese-as-Mandarin” ideologies in public and foreign language learning discourse.


Hoisan-wa/Toishanese; Chinese Americans; language maintenance, U.S., minority languages

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Working Papers of the Linguistics Circle

EISSN: 1920-440X
ISSN: 1200-3344

University of Victoria