Is Portuguese (European) a dominant language? Language policies involving Portuguese in three different contexts of migration
BAAL Language Policy Forum 2018 “Language Policy in the Age of Diversity: Dilemmas and Hopes”, 31 may – 1 June 2018, Hallam University
This paper focus on the linguistic consequences of migration phenomenon in terms of power relations, i.e., on the understanding of the processes implied in the social differentiation of languages that impact on individuals, families and institution choices and attitudes. For this purpose, we analyze the social status of the Portuguese Language in different contexts, as a Dominant language in Portugal for people with Cape Verdean immigrant background who are potential Cape Verdean speakers; and as a Non-Dominant language within the Portuguese communities in Montreal, Quebec and in Newark NJ, USA. In the first case, the European Portuguese (EP) norm is the main reference as the official language, both in the parents’ country of origin (Cape Verde) as well as their children’s country of birth (Portugal). This means that EP holds the main social function within language policies in public schools, despite family language uses and practices being more diverse in both contexts. In the second and third cases, Portuguese is perceived as an amalgam of different varieties, finding in EP (continental) its “norm of prestige” and in the particular case of Quebec, fighting for power in a complex context where two languages are dominant: French and English. Using language policy analysis at institutional, family and individual levels, through non-participant observation, biographic interviews and policy analysis, we will put into dialogue the results of three different empirical contexts. This contribution aims to explore perceptions on the social relevance of the EP norm when in contact with other variants and languages, focusing on individuals’ self-reported repertoires, their processes of integration in new societies and official policy approaches. Education is here taken as one of the main tools to assess migrants’ integration at different levels, either promoting Heritage languages in a new context of communication, or focusing on political claims for assimilation.
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