Summary of Kloss article in Fishman's volume
in the United States.
Handout for LING 540, Language Policy
H. Schiffman, Instructor
Six factors that enhance language maintenance.
- Religio-societal insulation/isolation (withdrawal from the
world. E.g. Amish, Old Order Mennonites, Hutterites,
- Time of immigration: priority/simultaneity with Anglo-
Americans. Germans in Pennsylvania, Dutch in New
Netherlands, Spanish in Florida, Southwest, Russians
in Alaska, Hawaiians in Hawaii. (See also this
- Sprach-Inseln, large or small. Czechs in Texas, Iowa,
Russian-Germans in Nebraska, Hassidim in New York,
many groups in urban ghettoes. Millennialist and
anabaptist groups (theological isolation).
- Demoninational fostering of parochial schools.
School policy of given denomination overrides (Catholics
were opposed to German, Polish etc. schools)
- Existence of another English-speaking theological
counterpart (Catholics, German Methodists, etc.)
- If denomination is specific to that ethnicity: Greek
Armenian Orthodox, Missouri Lutheran, etc.
- Pre-immigration experience with language maintenance efforts:
(Polish, French-Canadians, Ukrainians, Russian-Germans)
Groups know that language maintenance requires ` quality' programs:
- Consciously planned language maintenance efforts: develop
crucial techniques vs.
- Effortless, unplanned, unorganized language maintenance: no
techniques, haphazard (doomed to failure?).
- Prestige resulting from official use as only tongue during
pre-Anglo-American period. Spanish in New Mexico, French in
Missouri, Louisiana, Dutch in NY-NJ.
Prestige value = historicity.
Other factors that sometimes are positive, sometimes negative.
- High educational level of immigrant group.
- Plus: maintain lively intellectual life, establish
schools, theater, colleges, quality language
- Minus: interact more with Anglo-Americans, assimilate
faster, e.g. Scandinavians, German
- Low educational level
- Plus: strong group cohesion, aloofness, preserve
traditions, perpetuate "little" traditions.
- Minus: difficulty in establishing quality education,
institutions, can't compete with quality Anglo-Am;
2nd generation rejects parents' `inferior' culture
and mother-tongue: e.g. Italo-Americans.
- Great numerical strength:
- Plus: establishing many educational institutions, have $$ to
afford for minority press, political power at state/local level,
- Minus: multiplies contact with E majority, increases
likelihood of factionalism, lack of cohesiveness.
apprehension and animosity from Majority, e.g.
Germans. Larger chance for differential scale
of education, lack of perceived need for solidarity;
increases complacency about need for quality
- Smallness of group.
- Plus: leaders can control more easily; all members are known to
leadership and everyone else.
- Minus: Staffpower, money are in short supply; maintenance of
press, schools, etc. is difficult. Leads to feelings of hopelessness for
future of language.
- Cultural and/or linguistic similarity to (Anglo) Majority.
- Plus: Conducive to tolerance and acceptance from majority;
minority members have high self-esteem, high esteem for their language
- Minus: Leads to erosion of group consciousness and differences by
the 2nd, 3rd generations.
- Great cultural and/or linguistic dissimilarity between
- Plus: Awareness enhances
consciousness, where dissimilarity may lead to animosity, prejudice,
segregation; language maintenance may be stronger. (e.g. Japanese-
Americans in WWII internment camps.)
- Minus: Dissimilarity leads
to greater attempts by 2nd, 3rd generations to assimilate; language is
- Suppression of Minority Language.
- Plus: Official suppression often leads to strengthened resistance: Poland
under Czarist Russia; Germans in WWII occupation; Tamil in Sri Lanka; Kurds in
- Minus: Suppression by majority may lead to collapse: German in US in 1917-23.
- Acceptance, permissiveness by majority.
- Plus: Encourages institutions to flourish: early west-European
languages in US
- Minus: Lack of obstacles lulls group into false sense of security: more recent
immigrant groups (east, southern Europe).
- Socio-cultural characteristics of minority group in question:
Difficult to define, but means there may be particular reasons that
affect one group or another, one way or another:
- Greeks' `homesickness'?
- Chinese ethno-centrism?
- Orthographic problems? (Non-western writing systems make it
difficult for children; Latin alphabet would facilitate some retention;)
- diglossia may complicate matters, etc.
Is this what I call
Summary: no one factor can be singled out as the
factor in successful or unsuccessful language maintenance; usually a complex
last modified 9/28/00