Belonging and Attitudes Towards Migrant Heritage Languages



Based on data collected in Melbourne between 2008 and 2010, this chapter assesses the attitudes of non-refugee African migrants towards their ethnic languages in the context of the utility and prestige of English in Australia. The chapter explores the tensions between discourses on rights to language(s) of choice and discourses on conforming to prescribed languages. It opens up new questions about ethnic language loyalty and language maintenance among African diasporas in Australia. The following questions are addressed: How do African communities in Australia perceive their ethnic languages? What is the state of ethnic language maintenance among African diasporas? How do dominant monolingual discourses influence the attitude of African diasporas towards their ethnic languages? How are the identities of Africans in Australia shaped and mediated by competing attitudes towards English on the one hand and migrant ethnic languages on the other? The chapter responds to these questions by drawing on data from responses to a survey that sought respondents’ choice of language in different contexts in Australia (such as in their homes, at work, with family friends and in public places); their views on the linkages between ethnic languages, identity and cultural heritage; their opinions on intergenerational ethnic language transmission; their attitudes towards English and what they considered to be factors that hinder or enhance the use of migrant ethnic languages in Australia.


Cultural Heritage Survey Item Mother Tongue Native Country Language Choice 
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Copyright information

© Finex Ndhlovu 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of New EnglandAustralia

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