Chapter 3 Language Maintenance and Shift


Language shift in different communities.
 Migrant minorities. People usually switch rapidly from phrase to phrase for instance. Reactions to code-switching styles are negative in many communities, despite the fact that proficiency in intra sentential code-switching requires good control of both codes. This may reflect the attitudes of the majority the monolingual group in places like in North America and Britain. In places such as New Guinea and East Africa where multilingualism is the norm, attitudes to proficient code-switching are much more positive. The order of domains in which language shift occurs may differ for different individuals and different groups, but gradually over time the language of the wider society displaces the minority language mother tongue. This may take three or four generations but sometimes language shift can be complemented in just two generations. Typically, migrants are virtually monolingual in their mother tongue, their children are bilingual, and their grandchildren are often monolingual in the language of the ‘host’ country. Non-migrant communities. Language shift is not always the result of migration. For this community the home is the one most under any family’s control, language may be maintained in more domains than just the home. Migrant majorities When language shift occurs, it is always shift towards the language of the domain powerful group. A domain group has no incentive to adopt the language of minority. The domain language is associated with status, prestige, and social success. When a language dies gradually, as opposed to all its speakers being wiped out by a massacre or epidemic, and the function of the language are taken over in one domain after another by another. Attitudes and values. Positive attitudes support efforts to use the minority language in a variety of domains, and this helps people resist the pressure from the majority group to switch their language. There are certain social factors which seem to retard wholesale language shift for a minority language group, at least for a time. First, where language is considered an important symbol of a minority group’s identity. Second, if families a minority group live near each other frequently. Another factor which may contribute to language maintenance for those who emigrate is the degree and frequency of contact with the homeland. Factors contributing to language shift, those are economic, social, and political factors. The most obvious factor is that the community sees an important reason for learning the second language. The second important factor is their ethnic language. Demographic factor are also relevant in accounting for the speed of language shift. Resistance to language shift tends to last longer in rural than in urban areas. Shift tends to occur faster in some groups than in other. The size of the group is sometimes a critical factor. Although the pressures to shift are strong, members of a minority community can take active steps to protect its language. Where a language is rated as high in status by its users, and yet also regarded as a language of solidarity to be used between minority group members. Different factors combine in different ways in each social context, and the result are rarely predictable. Monolingualism is regarded as normal, bilingualism is considered unusual. Bilingualism and multilingulism which is normal. 

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