Mother daughter tongue : the language use of North African women in France
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This study of GEN 1 and GEN 2 Maghrebi (i.e. Tunisian, Moroccan and Algerian) women’s socialization into French and Arabic and/or Berber explores mixed methodologies for capturing language use and attitudes. The bidirectional and longitudinal nature of processes of language socialization are prioritized in the design, which values all contexts of natural language acquisition. In a mobile survey task, nine participants reported language use in their two most recent interactions and the circumstances surrounding those interactions when prompted by an SMS invitation at randomized times over the course of a 5-week period. The results reveal the significance of factors of proximity, generation, sex, linguistic ability, and individual variation (explained primarily as one’s generation of immigration, whether or not one is married to a speaker of the heritage language (HL), and whether one works or not). This creates a picture of language use in the women’s communities of practices at the present time. A drawing task illustrating the languages used in eleven participants’ social networks highlights the participants’ awareness of their practices with different interlocutors and confirm the effectiveness of self-reporting. An additional drawing task to create a timeline representing one’s use and proficiency in French and HL(s) over the lifespan illustrates moments of change that the participants deem important in their personal history. For GEN 1 women, we see profiles of maintenance and attrition in HL alongside acquisition of French. For GEN 2 women, we see unstable socialization into HL alongside stability in French. Sociolinguistic interviews with multiple generations of 26 families further ground the analyses. The connection between language, language ideologies and identity is explored through questions regarding how one defines one’s mother tongue and how one identifies (e.g., as French, French of Algerian origin, Tunisian, Arab, etc.). Answers reveal the malleability of these concepts, the variety of experiences that shape these attitudes and the integration of these women and their families into French society. Through this approach, I go beyond treating L1, L2 and HL socialization as distinct, emphasizing that they influence each other, and I highlight how language socialization is more complex than “experts” socializing “novices.”
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