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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 4, 2011

Language attitudes, migrant identities and space

  • Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain EMAIL logo and Grit Liebscher EMAIL logo


In a previous paper (Liebscher and Dailey-O'Cain, Dialect use and discursive identities of migrants from the west in eastern Germany, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), we posited that attitudes toward language are not merely static thoughts in people's minds, but are constantly constructed in interaction. Following on this work, in this paper we investigate the ways in which German-speaking migrants and their descendants in urban Canada use language attitudes in interaction to construct a specifically German space within Canada. Our focus is on their attitudes toward each of the various languages and language varieties present in the participants' linguascape: German dialects, standard German and English, and code-mixing, and in our analysis, we observe the ways that these migrants negotiate who has authority over these forms, as well as how attitudes can shift when speakers' connection to their country of origin is interrupted through migration. Though the direct focus of the research questions we address in this paper is on what it means to be German in urban Canada, we also address broader issues of how urban minority groups construct and maintain minority identities after migration.

Published Online: 2011-11-04
Published in Print: 2011-November

© 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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