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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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Concluding remarks


In the Polish linguistic literature, the present study constitutes thus far the only analysis of the conditions affecting the maintenance of the heritage language by the second generation of emigrants based on such a broad material. One of its objectives was to identify the sociological factors that influence the maintenance/loss of Polish among Polish children living in a foreign cultural and linguistic environment. This problem was discussed in the first part of the book.

The results obtained provide a picture of the linguistic situation of the second generation of Polish immigrants in Sweden. The diaspora of Polish children in Sweden, however, represents but an example of the problems faced by Polish emigrants’ children spread almost all over the world. Irrespective of the country of settlement of their parents, the children are confronted with the same problems: adapting to life in two different cultural settings, the necessity of learning to live with two different languages, and developing their own identity, including the ethnic one, in a multicultural society. This problem is already besetting at least hundreds of thousands of Polish children, and it is going to grow almost exponentially. Over two millions of Poles, especially young people, are reported to have left their country in the last few years to find a job in other countries of the EU. In the meantime, tens of thousands of ‘Euro-orphans’ are waiting for their parents in Poland. How many of their parents will return home and how many will decide to stay...

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