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Heritage Language Maintenance through Political Shift: Vietnamese Montrealers’ Perceived Role of Language in Their Cultural Identity and Heritage Social Networks

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Session régulière / Regular Session
16:15, Mercredi 27 Avr 2022 EDT (25 minutes)
InclusionQuébecAnglaisIdentité culturelle
MontréalHeritage Language Maintenance

Heritage Language Maintenance through Political Shift: Vietnamese Montrealers’ Perceived Role of Language in Their Cultural Identity and Heritage Social Networks

Thao-Nguyen Nina LE

Université Concordia


Cette session aura lieu uniquement en anglais.

Zoom 859 3601 4296

This study aims to investigate the predictors for heritage language (HL) maintenance from the first-generation immigrants to their children, taking the Vietnamese community in Montreal as an example. It is commonly believed that the more central the role of language is in one’s cultural identity, the more likely and easily it is to maintain the language to one’s offspring. Likewise with the bigger, more intimate, more interconnected the one’s HL network is. 

This study put to testing these two predictors of HL maintenance, with an angle from a community that has been through sociopolitical trauma prior their arrival to Canada. It hypothesized that the first-generation immigrants’ sociopolitical views shaped by their traumatic experience in their home country would influence the way in which they preserve the language for the children even after settling in a new and safer place, which would manifest in both generations’ expression of cultural identity and engagement in the heritage network. 

The study examined 76 first and second generation Vietnamese Montrealers (38 parent-child pairs), with the parents being from the first wave of Vietnamese immigration (arriving in Montreal from 1975 to 1999). The participants answered ethnolinguistic, acculturative stress, and network questionnaires. Their Vietnamese proficiency was rated by four middle-aged native Vietnamese speakers. 

Preliminary analyses suggested that parents with better self-rated French proficiency tended to highly identify themselves as “Quebecois”, which was a detriment for preserving Vietnamese for their children. The frequency of using Vietnamese from both generations was the key indicator to maintain the HL, which triumphed over parents' and children’s network sizes, intimacy, and interconnectedness. Among the families who left to seek political safety, the more intimacy the children had with their HL networks, the less well they spoke Vietnamese, perhaps due to knowing the traumas happened to their parents, which made them less likely to research about their home country. In families who came here for economic benefits, the higher parents’ pride about Vietnam as a country currently, and the higher the children’s intimacy with their HL networks indicated better Vietnamese maintenance.

Thao-Nguyen Nina Le


Martyna Kozlowska


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