Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton December 16, 2015

The Persian Paradox: Language use and maintenance among Iranian Americans

Mehdi Bozorgmehr and Maryam Moeini Meybodi

Abstract

As a relatively new, highly educated, professional and entrepreneurial immigrant group, Iranian Americans display complex linguistic patterns. In this article, we analyze data from the American Community Survey (ACS) on English language proficiency and languages spoken at home for the first- and second-generation Iranian Americans. These quantitative data are supplemented by in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of Iranian American families in the northeastern United States on their behavior and attitudes toward learning and preserving their native language (Persian). Although ACS data show high English language proficiency among first-generation Iranian immigrants, they also show a relatively high usage of Persian language among this ethnic group. Findings show that parents and children had positive behavior and attitudes toward the preservation of Persian. As transnational families, parents have created a “tool kit” to ensure that Persian will persist at least through the second generation. Maintaining transnational ties, attending weekly cultural and religious events, providing Persian instruction, and controlling children’s language use at home were among the most important mechanisms of ethnic language maintenance.

Acknowledgments

We thank the anonymous reviewer and the guest editors of this special issue for their comments on an earlier draft.

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Published Online: 2015-12-16
Published in Print: 2016-1-1

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