The Case of Polish Children in Sweden
The fundamental problem in studies on the language of a diaspora is defining the object of analysis. This is because the linguistic material that the researcher is confronted with is heterogeneous in at least two respects.
First of all, the languages of the diaspora vary depending on the linguistic environments in which the different immigrant communities live; for example, the Polish diaspora in an Anglo-Saxon country is, of course, linguistically (and culturally) different from the Polish diasporas in Germany, France or Sweden. In fact, then, there are multiple variants of diaspora language, which reflect features of different dominant languages. The problem emerging in such a situation concerns the boundary between the intra-lingual and external (i.e. determined by the dominant language, the language of the country of settlement) factors underlying the acquisition of the heritage language in a diaspora setting.
Secondly, the different members of a diaspora manifest highly dissimilar levels of fluency in their heritage language: from an almost perfect command acquired at home, to its complete loss. Thus, even if we limit our study to the language of a particular community within the diaspora (e.g. the language of the Polish diaspora in Sweden), we will actually still have to do with a set of idiolects of the different speakers, which differ both grammatically and lexically, rather than with a single linguistic system represented by different individual idiolects. It is worth noting here that, in investigating the mechanisms responsible for the structural changes observed in idiolects...
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