Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number4 December 2020 Pp.319-327
Language Maintenance and Language Shift among Keralites in Oman
Roy P. Veettil
Faculty of Language Studies
Sohar University, Oman
English Language Centre
The University of Technology and Applied Sciences- Al-Musannah, Oman
School of Social Sciences and Languages
Vellore Institute of Technology, India
This study explores the current status of language maintenance (LM) and language shift (LS) among Keralites, popularly known as ‘Malayalees,’ living in Oman. It analyses the leading factors that affect language maintenance and language shift: a particular focus is given to identifying the various domains in which language maintenance is facilitated; the attitudes held by the Keralite parents and their children towards their first language (L1), the initiatives taken by parents, religious and cultural organizations; and the role of educational institutions in promoting language maintenance. Data for this study have been gathered from semi-structured interviews and participant observation of Keralites who have lived in Oman for more than ten years. Analysis of the data indicates that while parents value their mother tongue as their first language and take various measures to maintain it, second-generation children are not keenly attached to L1. Instead, their first language oracy is strikingly marked with code-switching and code shifting, and their writing skills in L1 are diminishing. Refuting the previous findings, the present study reveals that language shift is a temporary phenomenon, and it does not take place at the cost of L1. On the contrary, various factors contribute to the maintenance of their heritage language. Also, the migrant Keralites, as a result of their living abroad, acquire two or three more new languages: English, Hindi, and Arabic depending on their study and work domains, thereby making them a multilingual society. Language shift can gradually result in linguicide, which can have various effects such as alienation from and the loss of culture and cultural values. It is expected that this study will unveil if there is a language shift of a severe nature among the Keratitis in Oman.
Keywords: code-mixing, code shifting, Keralites in Oman, language maintenance, language shift, the local language, multilingual, multicultural, and sociolinguistics.
Cite as: Veettil, R. P., Binu, P.M., & Karthikeyan, J. (2020). Language Maintenance and Language Shift among Keralites in Oman. Arab World English Journal, 11 (4) 319-327.
Baker, C. (1992). Attitudes and language (Vol. 83). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
Clyne, M., & Kipp, S. (1999). Pluricentric Languages in an Immigrant Context: Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Edwards, J. (1995). Monolingualism, bilingualism, multiculturalism and identity: lessons and insights from recent Canadian experience. Current Issues in Language & Society, 2(1), 5-38. https://doi.org/10.1080/13520529509615433
European commission (1996). Euromoaic; the production and reproduction of minority language groups of the EU. Retrieved from http://www.lavplu.eu/central/bibliografie/euromosaic1.pdf
Fishman, J. A. (1972). The sociology of language. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
García, M. (2003). 2. Recent research on language maintenance. Annual review of Applied linguistics, 23, 22-43.
Gardner-Chloros, P., McEntee-Atalianis, L., & Finnis, K. (2005). Language attitudes and use in a transplanted setting: Greek Cypriots in London. International Journal of Multilingualism, 2(1), 52-80.
Graddol, D., & English 2000 (Project). (1997). The future of English?: A guide to forecasting the popularity of English in the 21st century. London: British Council.
Guardado, M. (2002). Loss and maintenance of first language skills: Case studies of Hispanic families in Vancouver. Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(3), 341-363.
Habtoor, H. A. (2012). Language Maintenance and Language Shift among Second Generation Tigrinya-speaking Eritrean Immigrants in Saudi Arabia. Theory & Practice in Language Studies, 2(5),
Holmes, J. (2001). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Indian expat population in Oman down to less than a million. (2020, October 28). Arab News. https://www.arabnews.com/node/1755181/business-economy
Kouritzin, S. G. (1999). Face [t] s of first language loss. New York: Routledge.
Merino, B. J. (1983). Language loss in bilingual Chicano children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 4(3), 277-294.
Nelde, P., Strubell, M., & Williams, G. (1996). Euromosaic: Production and reproduction of minority language communities in the European Union. Brussels, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities
Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. Harlow: Pearson Education
Pauwels, A. (2005). Maintaining the community language in Australia: Challenges and roles for families. International journal of bilingual education and bilingualism, 8(2-3), 124-131. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050508668601
Pauwels, A. (2016). Language maintenance and shift. Cambridge University Press.
Richard, J.C & Schmidt, R. (2013). Longman dictionary of language teaching & applied linguistics. New York: Routledge
Stoessel, S. (2002). Investigating the role of social networks in language maintenance and shift. International journal of the sociology of language, 2002(153), 93-131.
Trudgill, P. (2000). Sociolinguistics: An introduction to language and society. Fourth Edition. Penguin UK.
Wolck, W. (2004). Universals of language maintenance shift and change. Collegium antropologicum, 28(1), 5-12