ERIC Number: ED421872
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Mar
You Are What You Speak: Language Choice in Bilinguals as a Strategy in Power Relations.
This study investigated the ways in which a bilingual's choice between the minority first language (L1) and the dominant second language (L2), in this case English, suggests the value the language has for the social and in-group identity of the bilingual. Adult bilinguals (n=38) of widely varying L1 backgrounds were surveyed concerning their language dominance, ethnolinguistic group enclosure, perceived social comparison to the L2 group, social contact/networking, and attitude toward the L2. Responses suggest bilinguals' strategies in choosing a language are socially conditioned in at least two ways: (1) there is a functional dependence on one or the other language in the relevant communicative contexts, and (2) in the L2-dominant society the relative tension between the perceived sociolinguistic power of L1 and L2 will lead a bilingual in language choice. When the dominant L2 is seen as competing with or undermining the value of L1, the L1 minority mobilizes the forces of its ingroup identity by choosing L1 as its crucially important attribute. It is concluded that as the tension in power relations between L1 and L2 moves along the sociocultural continuum, so does possible accommodation to L2, its acceptance, anticipated social benefits from choosing it, and possibly, its successful learning. A language use survey is appended. (Contains 19 references.) (MSE)
Descriptors: Adults, Bilingualism, Code Switching (Language), English (Second Language), Ethnic Groups, Ethnicity, Interpersonal Relationship, Language Attitudes, Language Dominance, Language Patterns, Language Research, Language Role, Language Usage, Power Structure, Self Concept, Sociocultural Patterns, Sociolinguistics, Surveys
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (20th, Seattle, WA, March 14-17, 1998).