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Language and the process of socialisation amongst bilingual children in a Nicaraguan village.\ud

By Mark Jamieson


Social scientists have in recent years devoted a good deal of attention to the role of language in the lives of children. Few, however, have focused on the relationship between language and the logic by which categorical distinctions between children and adults are reproduced.1This article considers material from Kakabila, a village on Nicaragua's Mosquito Coast, where differences between adults and children, as these categories are locally imagined, find unusually clear expression in various forms of linguistic performance. Three closely linked speech registers known as respect, bad joke and shame, and Anglo-Miskitu bilingualism, are examined; first in terms of their roles in processes of social reproduction and then in terms of children's perspectives on these processes. Children's understandings of these phenomena are also considered in terms of a children's game called Prinkel-In-De-Sasa, and Gibberish, a collection of secret languages used exclusively by children. Both Prinkel-In-De-Sasa and Gibberish, it is argued, allow children, through play, to understand more comprehensively the politics of social reproduction as these are mediated through language.\u

Topics: Language, Nicaragua, Miskitu, Children.
Publisher: Department of Anthropology, Durham University
Year: 2007
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