Language Use and Ethnicity: Mapping the Terrain

  • Roxy Harris
Part of the Language and Globalization book series


This chapter offers a broad sketch of how the Blackhill youth position themselves in the multilingual environment which they inhabit. This is achieved by developing an analytic commentary on, and summary of, the data collected in the language survey questionnaire. In this analysis the terrain is divided into two open dimensions – their patterns of language use at home and within the family and the patterns outside the home in interaction with others in the wider community. The foundations of this scene are the languages the Blackhill youth said that they used at home with their families before they ever went to school. Here three languages stood out. Of the 31 respondents, 13 listed Panjabi,1 eight named English and seven mentioned Gujarati. It should be noted, though, that while all the young people showed a strong awareness of their linguistic inheritance by being able to name the native sources of the languages other than English which they used at home pre-school, they were much less sure when it came to markers of any contemporary expertise such as deploying up-to-date spellings and terminologies for the languages in question. For example, respondents were much less likely to use the standard modern spellings ‘Panjabi’ and ‘Gujarati’ than spellings such as ‘Punjabi’ or ‘Gujerati’ and ‘Gujrati’.


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Copyright information

© Roxy Harris 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roxy Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s College LondonUK

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