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Russian Language Transmission and Loss in the Baltic Countries, Sweden and Cyprus: Linguistic Choices and their Justification
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch, and German.
2016 (English)In: Sociolinguistic Sympusium 21: Attitudes and Prestige, 2016Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Language attitudes of adult speakers towards their heritage language, its intergenerational transmission and maintenance are often considered to be the major contributors to the linguistic outcome of their children. The ethnolinguistic vitality model proposed by Giles, Bourhis & Taylor (1977) takes into account variables that may contribute to the influence on the maintenance or loss of the homelanguage. Such factors as social networks have also been reported to be responsible for the high or low maintenance of a specific speech variety (Milroy & Wei, 2005). Clearly defined transmission strategies are associated with success, where the most effective one is the one parent –one language strategy, which has been confirmed by several studies. Parental language choice is definitely one of the main factors contributing to successful transmission. However, children's language choices also influence the language choices of their parents, which in turn may change the language patterns among the parents. The parents often switch to the majority language to accommodate the language choices of their children. The question is how this will influence parental attitudes towards bilingual upbringing and language transmission to the second generation. Individuals change their minds and attitudes, which is reflected in the theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger 1957). They try to reduce tension produced by any inconsistency. People do this by changing the inconsistent cognition and they look for additional evidence to prefer one choice over another, often laying the blame on the child who ―refuses to speak some particular language. This paper discusses the attitudes towards the Russian language transmission of 25 Russian-speaking mothers living in Baltic countries, Sweden and Cyprus, and how these attitudes changed over time. Particular attention will be paid to similarities and differences in the three populations under investigation. What they have in common is their L1 Russian background and the minority status of their native language. In Cyprus and Sweden, they mainly come from immigrant and mixed-marriage communities, while in Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania they live in a bilingual society, where Estonian/Latvian/Lithuanian is a prestigious language and Russian has a low status. Our data was collected with the help of narrative interviews and questionnaires. It represents different kinds of family types: exogamous couples, endogamous couples, blended families and single parents. Our results indicate that success in language transmission is not predicted by the family type. On the other hand, the attitudes towards bilingualism and Russian language transmission (including the change of these attitudes over the years) -depending on the parents' success in bringing up children bilingually -seemed to matter. A lot depends on whether there is a tendency for integration with the dominant language community, for staying isolated and only preserving the home language or for having a balanced bilingual/multilingual approach and positive attitude towards both majority and minority languages. The socio-economic status, level of education and mother‘s employability may play crucial roles in language transmission and attitudes. The linguistic repertoire of the father (minority, majority or mixed) also has an effect.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-138495OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-138495DiVA: diva2:1067501
Conference
Sociolinguistic Sympusium 21, Murcia, Spain, June 15-18, 2016
Available from: 2017-01-21 Created: 2017-01-21 Last updated: 2017-06-01Bibliographically approved

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Ringblom, Natalia
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