Publication details [#67187]

Hu, Bo. 2019. A Chinese Australian family’s language use and attitudes. Asia-Pacific Language Variation 5 (1) : 50–66.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This article proposes a qualitative case study of a Chinese Australian family’s multilingual experiences in Melbourne. Couched in the framework of family language policy, it explores language shift patterns and mother tongue attitudes and analyses reasons and consequences. The findings show that the first generation uses Mandarin for general family communication, while relegating regional Chinese to functions that are, typically, private and familial and for use with older generations. The second generation uses English the most. While their Mandarin use is enhanced through community-based schooling and can be activated depending on the communicative environment, regional Chinese does not play an active role. This nested, hierarchical ecology of language shift with two dominant language constellations causes parental confusion about the children’s mother tongue and problematises grandparent-grandchild communication with a possible decrease of family intimacy.