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Language policy and acculturation strategies of a Croatian emigrant family

  • Dora Kapetanović and Ivana Škevin Rajko


The objective of this paper is to provide insight into family language policy (FLP), language choices and acculturation strategies of a Croatian family (two parents and two daughters) who emigrated to Italy in the early 1990s and repatriated to Croatia in the first decade of the 2000s. In order to understand the family’s language policy and acculturation practices, we have examined their reported use, as well as recordings of their language use in family contexts. The study is based on participant observation and recordings of semi-structured interviews conducted by an in-group researcher, one of the family members. Our research reveals diverse aspects of the family’s language policy and social and language adjustment both in emigration and in repatriation. In other words, when the family emigrated to Italy, they used all their resources to learn Italian in order to adjust as rapidly as possible to the new social context, but upon their return to Croatia, they conspicuously continued to use Italian as a family code. The interviews imply that their attitudes towards the languages of the two countries differ. As a result, the family members resist using Croatian in both countries as they all support the maintenance of Italian in the family context, even after repatriation, a practice that can be attributed to their altogether positive attitudes towards this language.


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