Title

Resisting Language Shift in Polk County, Oregon: Bilingualism among Young Mexican-Americans

Date

6-1-2017 1:00 PM

End Time

1-6-2017 1:30 PM

Location

WUC Willamette Room

Department

Anthropology

Session Chair

Robin Smith

Session Chair

Isidore Lobnibe

Session Chair

Katherine Miller

Session Title

Anthropology Symposium

Faculty Sponsor(s)

Isidore Lobnibe

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Since the 1960s, the primary model used in the United States to explain and predict language shift among immigrant populations has shown a three-generational shift from ethnic language monolingualism to English monolingualism. However, whether this model can be applied to some Latino populations, who show sustained bilingualism, has been contested in more recent studies. This ethnographic study investigated language use among young Oregonians with Mexican heritage in Polk County. Drawing on participant observation and on formal and informal interviews, I discuss the resilience of Spanish language use in this population. The results suggest that there may be decreased Spanish language use by young Mexicans compared to their parents and grandparents’ generations, but that they do communicate in both languages. Findings show personal identity and ideology, education, and family and community context as some of the key contributing factors influencing language use in this population. Further, the demographic profile of the Monmouth-Independence community and the nature of the Western Oregon University campus contribute to an atmosphere that supports bilingualism.

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Jun 1st, 1:00 PM Jun 1st, 1:30 PM

Resisting Language Shift in Polk County, Oregon: Bilingualism among Young Mexican-Americans

WUC Willamette Room

Since the 1960s, the primary model used in the United States to explain and predict language shift among immigrant populations has shown a three-generational shift from ethnic language monolingualism to English monolingualism. However, whether this model can be applied to some Latino populations, who show sustained bilingualism, has been contested in more recent studies. This ethnographic study investigated language use among young Oregonians with Mexican heritage in Polk County. Drawing on participant observation and on formal and informal interviews, I discuss the resilience of Spanish language use in this population. The results suggest that there may be decreased Spanish language use by young Mexicans compared to their parents and grandparents’ generations, but that they do communicate in both languages. Findings show personal identity and ideology, education, and family and community context as some of the key contributing factors influencing language use in this population. Further, the demographic profile of the Monmouth-Independence community and the nature of the Western Oregon University campus contribute to an atmosphere that supports bilingualism.