Language and identity in the East Frisian-American (postvernacular) heritage community
Keywords:Heritage language, identity construction, attitudes, language shift, postvernacular immigrant community
This article reports initial results from an online survey in the East Frisian heritage community in the United States, inquiring about remaining cultural and linguistic practices. Answers from 31 participants indicate a generally positive attitude towards the Low German heritage language, despite low self-reported productive and receptive proficiency. Community members show awareness of the ongoing and inevitable language shift to English but feel unable to stop the trend. This also manifests in terms of identity construction: while autochthonous minority language communities have been shown to employ emblematic language use as a postvernacular identity marker, East Frisian heritage in the U.S. is constructed mostly around church affiliation, food and tea traditions, shared values, and being “German.” Thus, this study opens the door for additional (comparative) studies on the development of postvernacular communities and the (diminished) role of language use in these groups.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Maike Rocker
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