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Language Maintenance – Language Attrition

The Case of Polish Children in Sweden


Roman Laskowski

The monograph, based on broad studies into the Polish diaspora in Sweden, provides a picture of the social factors influencing the maintenance of the heritage language and culture by the second generation of emigrants. The author’s main objective, however, is to discover the systemic mechanisms underlying language acquisition by children in a bilingual setting and to investigate the influence of the interference from the dominant language on the acquisition of Polish. A particular attention is devoted to the category of case, which is absent from Swedish. Although it, generally, represents a description of a particular linguistic material, in fact the book addresses problems of the theory of language acquisition. The results and conclusions enable a better understanding of the universal semiotic and psychological principles that motivate the structure of the grammatical system of a natural language.
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Formally, this book has one author only. This fact, however, does not fully reflect the whole truth, since the present monograph is an effect of several years of studies conducted by a research team that I headed as Professor at the University of Gothenburg. Therefore, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the colleagues I worked with at the time. First of all, I owe a great debt of thanks to Morgan Nilsson, then a PhD student in the Institute of Slavic Languages in Gothenburg, now head of the same Institute (incorporated into a larger department). The effort he put into processing (and listening through) the recorded texts, their digital management and developing a tool for their electronic transcription (a version of Chi-writer, devised in cooperation with Rachela Zilinsky to suit the needs of the project) can hardly be overestimated. Language consultations with Morgan, the only Swede in the team, were also invaluable. I am indebted to Rachela as well, not only for her work on the texts but also for preparing the statistical data (presented in tables in the chapters below) concerning the study group. I am also grateful to my other colleagues and assistants, PhD students at the time, from the Institute of Slavic Languages: Marzena Malmgren, Joanna Nowicka, Jolanta Vogel, Alicja Bruseman and Krystyna Leczycka. Apart from conducting interviews with the children and their parents, they undertook the challenging task of recording and listening through the children’s utterances, as well as preparing their orthographic and...

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