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Language shift in different communities -


Happens to those who use a minority language in predominantly monolingual culture and society. Happens gradually over time the language of the wider society displaces the minority language of mother tongue.





Usually the shift start with children due to the school and the TV programs and eventually infiltrates their home. The pressure from society because those who speak differently from others is consider a threat for the majority group. The ability to shift from one language to another is considering a good assimilation. Language shift usually happens in two generations or faster.

Non- migrant community â—Ś Language shift due to the politic, economic and social changes in a community. â—Ś The formality and its social stand makes the language shift in the community, for example, the standard Malay is preferred when talking in a formal setting regardless where you are from. â—Ś Mostly the shifts occur depending on who you interact with.

Migrant majorities â—Ś Happens when colonial powers invade other country and their language become dominant. â—Ś The simplest example is English because it is consider a killer language. â—Ś Some aboriginal people in Australia lost their native language within four or five generations of colonial rules and use English as their language while their own language died out.

Language death and language loss ◦ When the last speaker of the language died, the language died with him. ◦ For example, many languages had died due to the massacre of the aboriginal people. ◦ Sometimes language shift happens but there are cases where language death occurs. ◦ Language loss is when one’s ability to master the language in their vocabulary and grammar shrunk. For example, someone who is a Malay speaker but the sentence structure is more to English structure. ◦ Language death can also start with language loss. ◦ Some language in the world is alive just to be used in prayers like the Maori communities.

Factors contributing to language shift

Economic, social and political factors ď ˝

ď ˝

People use other language in orders to get a good job The communities do not see any reasons to maintain their ethnic’s language because they feel that it is useless because people do not use that language often.

Language shift is uncontrolled process unless the communities take an active steps tp prevent it. It may appear that in order to achieve social and economic success, one have to shift their language to the majority’s language but the in times, the native language that one’s use may be extinct or died out.

Demographic factors ď ˝

ď ˝

Language shift occurs rapidly in the urban areas as compared to the rural area because the rural groups tend to be isolated from the centers of political power. The size of the groups plays an important role towards language shift on the speed of the shift.

Attitudes and values ď ˝

Language shift tends to be slower among communities where minority language is highly valued

How can a minority language be maintained? 

When language is considering an important symbol of minority group’s identity, the language can be maintain longer. Families of the minority group stay near with each other. The migrants keep contact with their homeland and uses their mother tongue.

Social linguistics Chapter 3  

Language Maintenance and Shift