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The enactment of status and power in the linguistic practices of three multilingual, Malayali families in the UK

Meddegama, Indu Vibha (2013) The enactment of status and power in the linguistic practices of three multilingual, Malayali families in the UK. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Focussing on three families living within a previously unexplored immigrant multilingual Malayali community in England, the present study investigates the manner in which the participants employ their linguistic practices in order to contest and/or retain traditional status and power relations. The use of semi-structured interviews, recorded intra-family conversations and observational fieldnotes provide data from both emic and etic perspectives. The findings suggest intergenerational language transmission to contribute to the maintenance of Malayali cultural values. Embedded within these cultural values are beliefs and practices relating to respect for traditional authority figures within a patriarchal system observed to be generally upheld by the participant families. The older children, irrespective of gender, are noted to promote the use of Malayalam, whilst the mothers play a key role in Malayalam language and cultural socialisation of the children at home. The linguistic practices of the participants provide evidence for the emergence of a new linguistic hierarchy that diverges from the patriarchal authority structure traditionally determined by gender and generation. The key agents within this linguistic hierarchy are the fathers and younger children. Whilst the fathers’ language practices seem to be accommodated by their partners and children, the younger children are observed to exert a new dimension of power that influences the language practices of their mothers and older siblings. The research proposes that empirical studies that focus on the acculturation of first-generation immigrants into mainstream society, both culturally and linguistically, could benefit immigrant multilingual populations in general by enhancing their experience of inclusion within mainstream society. The study also emphasises that the immigrant Malayali families present a paradigm of heritage language and cultural maintenance that should receive attention at local and national levels.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-570-0
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > University of York St. John
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.595217
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2014 14:29
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 14:41
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5550

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