Shes American Now, I Dont Like That: Gendered Language Ideologies in a Laotian American Community

Daryl Gordon


As gender identities have shifted within the Laotian American community, perceptions of English proficiency have emerged as a site in which complex ideologies about gender identity are explored and contested. While Laotian women experience expanded opportunities for enacting their gender identities through wage labor and access to education, Laotian men experience a narrowing of opportunities, having lost traditional sources of power such as land ownership and high status professions. Laotian mens enactment of a discourse of nostalgia and the development of language ideologies, specifically the belief that they are more proficient English speakers than women, play an important part in mens attempt to mitigate this loss of status. At the heart of these ideologies about language is an assumption that mens greater proficiency in English allows them to create a seamless transition between their role as family leader and provider in Laos and a similar role within the radically changed gender landscape of the United States.


Cambodia, Khmer

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