2 Dynamics of language shift
2.1 IntroductionIn this chapter, we are dealing with the macrolevel of language. In order to
discuss the structural changes that occur in an immigrant language, we need to
see the changes as part of a process of gradual, slower or more rapid shift from
one language to another. In the present chapter, Australian data will be used to
illustrate the dynamics of language shift from immigrant languages to English.1
Some of the data that I will be studying is based on responses to the same census
question at the same time (though not at the same time of people's migration
history) in the same places. An attempt will also be made to view similar sets of
data diachronically. In particular, this chapter will consider some of the factors
promoting or impeding language shift and influencing the differential shift rates
in different ethnolinguistic communities.2 This data will be supplemented by
studies of language use patterns. Various models will be considered to explain
processes and mechanisms of language shift in the context of place, time and
community. This is the field that owes much of its development to the innovative
work of Joshua Fishman.First let us elucidate the meanings that are given to 'language shift'.
|i. ||It can refer to the language behaviour of a whole community, a sub-group
within it, or an individual.|
|ii. ||It can mean a gradual process, a 'shifting', as has been described for the
replacement of Hungarian by German in Oberwart in the Austrian state of
Burgenland (Gal 1979). However, it can also mean that a language previously employed by an individual or group is no longer used at all by
|iii. ||It can designate a change in:|
|a. ||the main language;|
|b. ||the dominant language of an individual or a group;|
|c. ||the language of one or more domains–contextualized spheres of communication–such as home, work, school, church;|
|d. ||the exclusive language for between one and three of the four language
skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing).|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages.
Contributors: Michael Clyne - Author.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 2003.
Page number: 20.
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