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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

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Volume 2018, Issue 251


Transition as a focus within language maintenance research: Wellington Iraqi refugees as an example

Ayman Tawalbeh
Published Online: 2018-04-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0011


Most current language maintenance and shift research has focused on investigating immigrants’ experiences and attitudes in their host countries only. Recent research has shown that additional insights can be gained from a multi-perspective approach to language maintenance that includes “spatio-temporal” frames. Transit experiences (representing extra spaces and multiple phases) offer important information which has been overlooked in most language maintenance and shift research. Drawing on a data set of 30 semi-structured interviews with Wellington Iraqis and 13 with Iraqi refugees preparing to move to New Zealand from their transit point in Jordan, this article argues for the significance of transit experiences to language maintenance research. Analysis of the data suggests the significance of transit experiences in explaining the variations in Iraqis’ linguistic preferences and competencies and elucidates differences in language ability, use and attitude between older and younger generations. The data provides evidence for the importance of transition as a focus within language maintenance and shift study.

Keywords: language maintenance and shift; spatio-temporality; transition; Iraqi refugees; New Zealand


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-04-12

Published in Print: 2018-04-25

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2018, Issue 251, Pages 179–202, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0011.

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