3 Language_Shift

3 Language_Shift - Language Society and Culture Ling 115...

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Language, Society and Culture Ling 115, Andrew Simpson, USC Language, Society and Culture Unit 3 Language Maintenance, Shift and Loss in Minority Groups This unit considers changing patterns of language use among comparatively small linguistic communities located within larger language majorities. Typically, such configurations lead to language shift and language loss, sometimes even leading to the full disappearance of languages – ‘language death’. Language Shift Language shift often occurs in two kinds of situations: Among immigrant communities . When people migrate to other countries and find themselves surrounded by a new language spoken by a longer-established majority of the local population, the mother tongue language of immigrants frequently undergoes decay and gradually becomes lost, as the linguistic dominance of the majority population asserts itself. Among linguistic minorities located in multi-ethnic countries with a single, dominant language . Many countries have ethno-linguistically mixed populations. If there is an imbalance in population-size and socio-economic power between larger and smaller groups, frequently members of the latter ‘minority’ groups come to use more and more of the ‘majority’ languages they are in regular contact with. Typical pattern of language shift in immigrant communities Generation 1 moves to a new country/region, often for economic or political reasons. For example, speakers of Southeast Asian languages such as Cambodian, Hmong and Tagalog relocate to the USA. After their arrival in the US, these new immigrants learn ‘survival’ English – enough English for them to be able to function successfully in everyday life and work. Another example of the same patterning: many Koreans migrated to Japan from both North and South Korea following the Korean war. In Japan, these first generation Korean speakers learned enough Japanese to get work but continued to speak mostly Korean in ‘Korea-towns’ in Japanese cities such as Osaka. Generation 2. The children of generation 1 generally become bilingual. For example, in the first example above, speakers of first generation immigrants from Southeast Asia in the US learn to speak both the language of their parents (Cambodian, Hmong and Tagalog) and English equally well . Similarly, in Japan, the children of original Korean immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s learned both Korean and Japanese and became bilingual. 1
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Language, Society and Culture Ling 115, Andrew Simpson, USC Generation 3. The grandchildren of generation 1 often fail to acquire a strong competence in the ‘heritage’ language of generation 1 and become heavily mono- lingual in the language of the local majority. So, generation 3 of various Southeast Asian groups who have moved to the US may become largely monolingual speakers of English and know little Cambodian, Hmong and Tagalog etc. In Japan, third generation Koreans have mostly not acquired the ability to speak Korean. Over three
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3 Language_Shift - Language Society and Culture Ling 115...

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