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Heritage Language Maintenance Through Political Shift: Vietnamese Montrealers’ Perceived Role of Language in Their Cultural Identity and Heritage Social Networks


Heritage Language Maintenance Through Political Shift: Vietnamese Montrealers’ Perceived Role of Language in Their Cultural Identity and Heritage Social Networks

Le, Thao-Nguyen Nina (2022) Heritage Language Maintenance Through Political Shift: Vietnamese Montrealers’ Perceived Role of Language in Their Cultural Identity and Heritage Social Networks. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Immigrants feel pressure to integrate into the host society, and so often find it challenging to pass their heritage language (HL) on to next generations. Immigrant children’s HL skills, particularly speaking, often depend on the family’s language patterns, their social networks, and beliefs about how strongly language shapes their identity (De Houwer, 2007; Wong Fillmore, 2000). Another important yet largely overlooked factor is the sociopolitical circumstances that trigger immigration (Perera, 2015), such as whether immigrants relocate due to economic hardship or political turmoil. This study therefore examines whether sociopolitical reasons for immigration (in addition to immigrants’ social identity and social networks) predict immigrant children’s ability to speak the HL.
Participants included 76 first- and second-generation Vietnamese Montrealers (38 parent–child pairs) from the first wave of (conflict-driven) Vietnamese immigration (1975– 1999). The parents identified their reasons for immigration (economic, political, both), and all participants completed ethnolinguistic questionnaires (capturing the role of language in identity) and social network surveys (measuring size, intimacy, and interconnectedness of HL use). Participants’ informal Vietnamese speech (Mlength = 52.33 seconds, SD = 10.42) was rated by four native Vietnamese speakers for accentedness, comprehensibility, and fluency (α = .86–.91).
Results showed that Vietnamese use by both generations was a positive predictor of HL maintenance. For the political immigrants, the parents’ willingness to preserve the language and culture showed positive association with the HL ratings of their children, while for the economic immigrants, it is the parents’ pride in the current Vietnam that revealed positive associations. Social network analysis showed that in the political group, the children’s social network size was associated positively with their HL ratings, while their network intimacy showed negative associations. In the economic group, the children’s network size did not contribute strongly to HL maintenance; however, their network intimacy did, with a positive association. Findings suggest complex interactions of various sociopolitical factors in their relevance to HL maintenance.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Le, Thao-Nguyen Nina
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Applied Linguistics
Date:21 March 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Trofimovich, Pavel
Keywords:Heritage language maintenance, Vietnamese community, sociopolitical viewpoints, social network intimacy, acculturative stress
ID Code:990347
Deposited By: Thao Nguyen Le
Deposited On:16 Jun 2022 14:48
Last Modified:16 Jun 2022 14:48


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