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Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session

Abstract

The Khoja Ismailis of the Indian subcontinent have spoken two languages in a mildly unstable diglossic relationship for centuries. In recent decades many Khoja Ismailis immigrated to East Africa, and many learned three additional languages. Descriptions of the situation in Africa suggested the hypothesis that three of the languages may have stood in a direct relationship to three different concentric levels of ethnic identity, while the other two languages may have been used in different kinds of outgroup interactions. Interviews with Ismailis who have immigrated to Albuquerque from East Africa suggest a possible approach to defining ethnic boundaries involving a notion of shared ethnic subcategorization systems.

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