Family interaction and engagement with the heritage language: A case study
De Fina, Anna
In this paper I closely examine spontaneous interactions between members of a tri-generation Italian American family. I argue that members show different language preferences and differing attitudes towards the family's multilingual identity but that they all demonstrate a degree of `engagement' with the heritage language. Phenomena that I describe as illustrating engagement are speech accommodation, translations, metalinguistic comments, and attempts to speak the language that I characterize as `probing' and `performing.' Data come from a case study of an Italian American family living in Flushing, New York, conducted through sociolinguistic interviews and tape-recording of spontaneous interaction. All data were collected by one of the family members. The paper's main objectives are to demonstrate the vitality of qualitative paradigms for the study of language use and identity negotiations among immigrant groups, and to extend the still limited investigation of actual talk in interaction among Italian Americans.
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