'Each bilingual's story is unique' – accounts of language in the post-migration generation

Room 224, School of Education
Friday 20 March 2015 (13:30-15:00)

For further details contact Jaspreet Takhi: j.takhi@bham.ac.uk

MOSAIC Seminar Series, Spring 2015

The speaker at this seminar will be Linda Bäckman, from Åbo Akademi University in Finland/University of Birmingham. She holds a Master's degree in English Language and Literature has been a visiting research student at the University of Birmingham since September 2013.


This seminar talk presents early analysis from a study on questions of language and identity among adult children of migrants. The data consists of a series of in-depth interviews collected in three cities; Turku (Finland), Malmö (Sweden) and Birmingham (UK). The presentation focuses on accounts on language in practice and ideology in the stories of the twelve participants, for example in the form of reported proficiency, family schemes for language maintenance, as well as thoughts concerning language in the future generation. What happens to language in the post-migration generation needs to be viewed within a larger framework in which practice and ideology influence and reflect each other. Talk that seems to be about language always addresses questions beyond language (Woolard 1998), and ideologies about language make links to concepts such as nationhood, personhood, social cohesion and success. Language maintenance thus relates to a set of intertwined discourses that may be relevant in different ways for different families and individuals. As Zentella (1997: 5) points out, there are as many forms of bilingualism as there are bilinguals; ‘each bilingual’s story is unique’. The talk discusses the balance between uniqueness and relatedness in presenting the findings of this part of the study.

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