Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mother Tongues

i recently saw an article about languages that are dying around the world. it reminded me of an article i read in my Anthro book. here's an excerpt from my book speaking about the languages of origin for immigrants (or really just non-English languages) in the US or in countries that have a different language.

"If immigrant groups eventually lose their "mother tongues" in many if not most countries, this doesn't mean that the process occurs at the same speed in every group. why is that? why do some immigrant groups lose their language faster than others?

a comparative study by Robert Schrauf discovered the most likely reasons. first, Schrauf assessed the degree to which immigrant groups coming to North America retained their native language over time. the greatest retention was defined as when the third generation (the grandchildren of immigrants) continued to use the native language. Examples were Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Haitians.
on the other hand, the third generation in some groups as no comprehension of the native language except for isolated words. even the second generation (the children of the immigrants) mostly spoke and understood only English. Examples were Italians, Armenians, and Basques.

Schrauf then measured seven social factors that might explain longer versus shorter retention of the mother tongue. he looked at whether the group lived in tightly knit communities, retained religious rituals from the old country, had separate schools and special festivals, visited their homeland, did not intermarry, or worked with others of their ethnic group."

very interesting. i wonder if those that are in power who are so against second languages, particularly Spanish, know just what it means to sustain a language and what it does to family units to lose that language. if tight knit communities are the medium for maintaining a language, it mot certainly means a break-down in that if that language was to be lost or diluted.

comment. think. criticize.

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