Item Details

The language policy of trilingual transnational families living between Antioch, Paris and Berlin

Issue: Vol 14 No. 4 (2020)

Journal: Sociolinguistic Studies

Subject Areas: Gender Studies Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/sols.39512


In this article I analyze the family language policy of trilingual transnational families (Arabic, Turkish, French or German) through a comparative study of their intergenerational language practices in France and Germany. This study is based on a multi-sited ethnography, with recordings of individual interviews and socially situated heterogeneous language practices involving two families of three generations with similar trajectories and socioeconomic and linguistic profiles. The analyses of their language practices demonstrate that family language policy is based on individual freedom of choice; it is not explicit, fixed or rigid but unconstrained and fluctuating. With respect to the inherited familial languages, contrary to expectations, I observe that they are maintained relatively well, especially in the case of Arabic; this is true even for the youngest participants, the third generation. I show that the factor supporting the maintenance of Arabic in the third generation is the grandparents’ alignment with the youngest participants’ language choice as well as their caring attitude, expressed mainly in Arabic, but also, though less regularly, in Turkish.

Author: Suat Istanbullu

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