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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Discussion Details

Title: Re: 17.100, Disc: Prestige & Language Maintenance
Submitter: Carol Myers-Scotton
Description: I think maintenance is a combination of factors, obviously. The socio-economic status of the group is important, as Batibo suggests. But another equally important factor that must be taken into account is what might be called the expectations of the group (this stems in part from the group's ethnolinguistic vitality). That is, do members of the group perceive that socio-ecnbomic advancement through shifting to another language is even a reasonable expectation for them? If it is not, there is no motivation to shift and so they maintain their L1. (In the case of some very isolated groups, there also is the issue of whether these groups even are aware that there are better socio-economic conditions available elsewhere.)
You can relate this idea to cases when women are in the avant guard in shifting to a prestige dialect form AND when they are not. There is some evidence that women are not in the avant guard when the socio-ecnomic conditions in their group (and their expectations of leaving their group for a better life) are such that speaking a more prestige form will bring no measure of change (for the better) in their lives.
Carol Myers-Scotton
Date Posted: 18-Jan-2006
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
LL Issue: 17.162
Posted: 18-Jan-2006

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