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Multilingual Identities: New Global Perspectives

Inke Du Bois and Nicole Baumgarten

The contributions in this volume shed light on lived multilingualism around the globe. A small, but still representative selection of the multitude of migrant experiences, all studies share the intertwining of geographical mobility and non-mainstream linguistic practices which serves as a resource of agency and promotes alternative multiple identities of the immigrant speakers. This volume is based on the two core tenets of sociolinguistic identity research. First, it accepts the idea that identities or sub-identities are in a sense pre-given and can be formulated through membership categories. Second, identities are viewed as being enacted and performed, thus constituting social realities. In the social construction of identity, national and linguistic boundaries dissolve. The originating countries of the participants (and/or their ancestors) in the studies of this volume include Argentina, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Morocco, the Phillipines, Korea, Kazakhstan, Suriname and India. The countries of immigration include Germany, the USA, Israel, France and the Netherlands.

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‘And then I had to hold my first Referat on Beethoven as a politischer Mensch’: Multilingual identities and L1 languageloss of US Americans in Germany. Inke Du Bois

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‘And then I had to hold my first Referat on Beethoven as a politischer Mensch’: Multilingual identities and L1 language loss of US Americans in Germany Inke Du Bois 1. Introduction Codeswitching, employing two or more languages in discourse is indexical of hybrid or mul- ticultural identities. For first generation immigrants the second language often imposes on the first language. From a linguistic point of view, this influence occurs on psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic levels. On a psycholinguistic level, first language (L1) retrieval problems might arise on the lexical or structural levels, when immigrants have considerable exposure to their second language in an L2 culture context. This influence then manifests as language attrition, the non-pathological loss of the L1 due to emigration and lack of exposure to the mother tongue (Köpke and Schmid 2004: 5). Then native language retrieval problems can arise on lexical or structural levels since the L2 lexicon and structure are more readily at the disposal of the immigrant speaker. In addition to L1 attrition, L2 language items often get inserted into the L1 speech for socially motivated reasons. Codeswitching in immigration contexts is the simultaneous use of, for example, L1 and L2 in discourse, where cultural and social meaning is often attached to the language choice immigrants make (Schely-Newmann 1998: 97; Scheu 2000: 133). The differentiation and combined investigation of codeswitch- ing, which is socially motivated, and language attrition, which is predominantly a psycholin- guistic issue, is a new and important approach to the analysis of...

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