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The Acquisition of Heritage Languages

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Academic Paper


Title: Is there linguistic life after high school? Longitudinal changes in the bilingual repertoire in metropolitan Barcelona
Author: Kathryn A. Woolard
Institution: University of California, San Diego
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: Catalan-Valencian-Balear
Spanish
Abstract: Do linguistic identities formed in high school endure after adolescence? Do age-related linguistic differences represent community trends over historical time, or are they age-graded practices that change over biographical time? Catalan advocates worry that perceived Castilian dominance in adolescents' peer relations and media consumption forecasts the community's sociolinguistic future. To investigate the possibility of change in bilingual repertoires after adolescence, participants in a 1987 ethnographic study of high school students in metropolitan Barcelona were reinterviewed after twenty years. The reinterviews of L1 Castilian-speakers showed increased mastery and use of Catalan even among those who had been functionally monolingual and most resistant to Catalan in high school. Higher education, the workplace, romance, cosmopolitan travel, and parenthood were triggers of such postadolescent change in the linguistic repertoire. Informants produce a common narrative attributing linguistic transformations to maturational processes that reduce the shame and intolerance of difference that inhibit adolescent second language use. (Bilingualism, second language acquisition, longitudinal research, language and identity, adolescence, Catalan, Catalonia)

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 40, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .



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