E. J. Daussà: Minority language families in diaspora. Language transmission among catalans and galicians in New York city

Abstract: Understanding why parents transmit which of the languages they speak, and how they do so, is especially interesting in the case of mixed and migrant families, since typically these parents make especially well thought out linguistic choices. In this article is presented one such case, from the USA, a rich multilingual society yet where, due to the hegemony of English, intergenerational transmission of other languages is oftentimes weak. Through a questionnaire and interviews, this article examines linguistic practices and ideologies in multilingual families residing in New York City, in which one parent was born in Catalonia or in Galicia. Potential languages for transmission are two locally available and globally projected languages, English and Spanish; and Catalan or Galician. Not only are these minoritized languages in their countries of origin, but they also have virtually no presence in the American landscape. The two groups differ in the sociolinguistic situation of their homeland: while governmental campaigns succeeded in restoring Catalan in the public sphere and as a symbol for national identity, parallel campaigns have not been comparably successful for Galician. In our sample, transmission of Catalan is higher than of Galician; and in many cases Catalan is transmitted at the cost of Spanish, but this is never the case for Galician, while English remains constant. A motivational analysis reveals that the determining factor is the distribution of integrative and personal values among the languages and their symbolic role in the construction of identity.

 

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