Language maintenance and shift

Louisa Willoughby
Table of contents

Language maintenance and shift research forms a sub-field of linguistics with a complex history. Inspired at least in part by the Germanic research tradition into Sprachinseln (language enclaves that resist shift to the language of the surrounding society for generations; see Pauwels 2016) from the mid-1960s onwards we see an increasing movement of scholars documenting language practices among migrant families and communities – especially in the US (e.g. Clyne 1968; Fishman 1966; Lopez 1978; Skrabanek 1970). At the same time we see a parallel growth in research with indigenous communities around issues of language endangerment and reclamation (for an overview see Pauwels 2016). While the terms ‘language maintenance and shift’ have historically been used much more in reference to research on migrants, rather than indigenous groups, it is clear that many of the issues and theories are applicable in both contexts, and thus this entry will discuss both where relevant.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Aikio, Marjut
1992 “Are women innovators in the shift to a second language? A case study of Reindeer Sámi women and men.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 94(1): 43–62. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Auer, Peter and Carol Eastman
2010 “Code-switching.” In Handbook of Pragmatics, ed. by J.-O. Östman and J. Verschueren. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://​benjamins​.com​/online​/hop/DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Blommaert, Jan
2010The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bourhis, Richard Yvon, Howard Giles and Doreen Rosenthal
1981 “Notes on the construction of a ‘subjective vitality questionnaire’ for ethnolinguistic groups.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 2(2): 145–155. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bryant, Catherine and Bruno Mascitelli
2016From Small Beginnings: The Victorian School of Languages. North Melbourne: Victoria Australian Scholarly.Google Scholar
Burridge, Kate
2017Linguistic Cleanliness is Next to Godliness — But not for Conservative Anabaptists. Park City, Utah: Brigham Young University.Google Scholar
Cavanaugh, Jillian R.
2006 “Little women and vital champions: Gendered language shift in a northern Italian town.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 16(2): 194–210. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Cho, Grace and Stephen Krashen
1998 “The negative consequences of heritage language loss and why we should care.” In Heritage language development, ed. by Stephen Krashen, Lucy Tse and Jeff McQuillan, 31–40. Culver City, CA: Language Education Associates.Google Scholar
Clyne, Michael
1968 “The maintenance of bilingualism.” Australian Journal of Education 12(2): 125–130.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1982Multilingual Australia: Resources, Needs, Policies. Melbourne: River Seine Publications.Google Scholar
1991Community Languages: The Australian Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2003Dynamics of Language Contact: English and Immigrant Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clyne, Michael and Sandra Kipp
1997 “Trends and changes in home language use and shift in Australia, 1986–1996.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 18(6): 451–473. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dorian, Nancy
1981Language Death: The Life Cycle of a Scottish Gaelic Dialect. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Duarte, Joana and Ingrid Gogolin
2013 “Introduction: Linguistic superdiversity in educational institutions.” In Linguistic Superdiversity in Urban Areas: Research Approaches, ed. by Joana Duarte and Ingrid Gogolin, 1–24. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Extra, Guus
2010 “Mapping linguistic diversity in multicultural contexts: Demolinguistic perspectives.” In Handbook of Language and Ethnic Identity, 2nd edition, ed. by Joshua A Fishman and Ofelia García, 107–122. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Extra, Guus and Kutlay Yağmur
2004Urban Multilingualism in Europe: Immigrant Minority Languages at Home and at School. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Fishman, Joshua A.
1965 “Who speaks what language to whom and when?La linguistique 1(2): 67–88.Google Scholar
1966Language Loyalty in the United States: The Maintenance and Perpetuation of Non-English Mother Tongues by American Ethnic and Religious Groups. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
1991Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Florey, Margaret
2004 “Countering purism: Confronting the emergence of new varieties in a training program for community language workers.” In Language Documentation and Description, vol. 2, ed. by Peter Austin, 9–27. London: SOAS.Google Scholar
Gal, Susan
1979Language Shift: Social Determinants of Linguistic Change in Bilingual Austria. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
García, Ofelia, Zeena Zakharia and Bahar Otcu
(eds) 2012Bilingual Community Education and Multilingualism: Beyond Heritage Languages in a Global City. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Garcia, R. and C. Diaz
1992 “The status and use of Spanish and English among Hispanic youth in Dade County (Miami) Florida: A sociolinguistic study.” Language and Education 6: 13–32.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Gibbons, John and Elizabeth Ramirez
2004Maintaining a Minority Language: A Case Study of Hispanic Teenagers. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Giles, Howard, Richard Bourhis and Donald Taylor
1977 “Towards a theory of language in ethnic group relations.” In Language and Ethnicity in Intergroup Relations, ed. by Howard Giles, 307–48. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Guardado, Martin
2016 “Heritage language development in interlingual families.” In Handbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education, ed. by Peter Pericles Trifonas and Themistoklis Aravossitas, 17: 1–17. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://​link​.springer​.com​/content​/pdf​/10​.1007​/978​-3​-319​-38893​-9​_17​-1​.pdf.Google Scholar
Hatoss, Anikó
2013Displacement, Language Maintenance and Identity: Sudanese Refugees in Australia. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Heller, Monica
1994Crosswords: Language, Education, and Ethnicity in French Ontario. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
Hermes, Mary, Megan Bang and Ananda Marin
2012 “Designing Indigenous language revitalization.” Harvard Educational Review 82(3): 381–402. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Holmes, Janet, Mary Roberts, Maria Verivaki and ‘Anahina ’Aipolo
1993 “Language maintenance and shift in three New Zealand speech communities.” Applied Linguistics 14(1): 1–24. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Kagan, Olga, Mary Carreira and Claire Chik
(eds) 2017The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education: From Innovation to Program Building. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Kertzer, David I. and Dominique Arel
2002Census and Identity: The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Language in National Censuses. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
King, Kendall A., Lyn Fogle and Aubrey Logan‐Terry
2008 “Family language policy.” Language and Linguistics Compass 2(5): 907–922.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
King, Kendall A. and Mary Hermes
2014 “Why Is This So Hard?: Ideologies of Endangerment, Passive Language Learning Approaches, and Ojibwe in the United States.” Journal of Language, Identity & Education 13(4): 268–282. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Kipp, Sandra,Michael Clyne
and 2003 “Trends in the shift from community languages: Insights from the 2001 census.” People and Place 11: 33–41.Google Scholar
Kipp, Sandra, Michael Clyne and Anne Pauwels
1995Immigration and Australia’s Language Resources. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
Lambert, Brigitte E.
2008Family Language Transmission: Actors, Issues, Outcomes. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
Lanza, Elizabeth
1997Language Mixing in Infant Bilingualism: A Sociolinguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Li Wei
1994Three Generations, Two Languages, One Family: Language Choice and Language Shift in a Chinese Community in Britain. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Lopez, David E.
1978 “Chicano language loyalty in an urban setting.” Sociology and Social Research 62(2): 267–78.Google Scholar
Luo, Shiow-Huey and Richard Wiseman
2000 “Ethnic language maintenance among Chinese immigrant children in the United States.” International Journal of Intercultural Communication 24(3): 307–324. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Lytra, Valy and Peter Martin
2010Sites of Multilingualism: Complementary Schools in Britain Today. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham.Google Scholar
May, Stephen
2005 “Bilingual/immersion education in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Setting the context.” International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 8(5): 365–376. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
McConvell, Patrick and Felicity Meakins
2005 “Gurindji Kriol: A mixed language emerges from code-switching.” Australian Journal of Linguistics 25(1): 9–30. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ndhlovu, Finex
2014Becoming an African diaspora in Australia: Language, Culture, Identity. Houndsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
Ndhlovu, Finex and Louisa Willoughby
2017 “Migration, heritage languages, and changing demographics in Australia.” In The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education: From Innovation to Program Building, ed. by Olga Kagan, Mary Carreira and Claire Chik, 22–32. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Ninnes, Peter
1996 “Language maintenance among Vietnamese-Australian students.” Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 19(2): 115–138.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
O’Shannessy, Carmel
2005 “Light Warlpiri: A new language.” Australian Journal of Linguistics 25(1): 31–57. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Pauwels, Anne
2005 “Maintaining the community language in Australia: Challenges and roles for families.” The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 8(2–3): 124–31. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2016Language Maintenance and Shift. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ​/core​/books​/language​-maintenance​-and​-shift​/FC511EF9CB53FEFD72E159A7FB808ADB (3 August, 2017).DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Pennycook, Alastair
2016 “Mobile times, mobile terms: The trans-super-poly-metro movement.” In Sociolinguistics: Theoretical Debates, ed. by Nikolas Coupland, 201–216. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI logo. https://​www​.cambridge​.org​/core​/books​/sociolinguistics​/mobile​-times​-mobile​-terms​-the​-transsuperpolymetro​-movement​/E38C40B40CF48BE9E6D73B78156BB4E8.Google Scholar
Pennycook, Alastair and Emi Otsuji
2015Metrolingualism: Language in the City. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
Perera, Nirukshi
2015 “The maintenance of Sri Lankan languages in Australia–comparing the experience of the Sinhalese and Tamils in the homeland." Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 36(3): 297–312. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2016 “Tamil in the temples – Language and religious maintenance beyond the first generation.” Multilingua 35(5): 535–559.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Portes, Alejandro and Ruben Rumbaut
2001Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Pütz, Martin
1991 “Language maintenance & language shift in the speech behaviour of German‐Australian migrants in Canberra.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 12(6): 477–492. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Schüpbach, Doris
2009 “Language transmission revisited: Family type, linguistic environment and language attitudes.” Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 12(1): 15–30. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Seals, Corinne and Seena Shah
2017Heritage Language Policies around the World. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Shin, Sarah
2002 “Birth order and the language experience of bilingual children.” TESOL Quarterly 36(1): 103–113. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Skrabanek, Robert L.
1970 “Language maintenance among Mexican-Americans.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 11: 272–282.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Smith-Christmas, Cassie
2014 “Being socialised into language shift: The impact of extended family members on family language policy.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 35(5): 511–526. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Soehl, Thomas
2016 “But do they speak it? The intergenerational transmission of home-country language in migrant families in France.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42(9): 1513–1535. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Starks, Donna
2005 “The effects of self-confidence in bilingual abilities on Pasifika langauge use in South Auckland.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 26: 533–50.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Stevens, Christine A.
1999 “Selection and settlement of citizens: English language proficiency among immigrant groups in Australia.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 20(2): 107–133. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Stevens, Gillian
1986 “Sex differences in language shift in the United States.” Social Science Research 71(1): 31–6.Google Scholar
Stoessel, Saskia
2002 “Investigating the role of social networks in language maintenance and shift.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 153: 93–131. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Tannenbaum, Michal and Pauline Howie
2002 “The association between language maintenance and family relations: Chinese immigrant children in Australia.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 23(5): 408–424. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Terborg, Roland and Phyllis Ryan
2002 “The inadequacy of the concept of competence.” In Methodological and Analytical Issues in Language Maintenance and Language Shift Studies, ed. by Maya Khemlani David, 57–64. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
Trifonas, Peter Pericles and Themistoklis Aravossitas
(eds) 2016Handbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education. Cham: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
Vaughan, Jill, Gillian Wigglesworth, Deborah Loakes, Samantha Disbray and Karin Moses
2015 “Child-caregiver interaction in two remote Indigenous Australian communities.” Frontiers in Psychology 6 (4 September, 2017).DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Veltman, Calvin
1983Language Shift in the United States. Berlin: Mouton.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Vries, John de
1994 “Canada’s official language communities: An overview of the current demolinguistic situation.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 105–106: 37–68. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Willoughby, Louisa
2014 “Meeting the challenges of heritage language education: Lessons from one school community.” Current Issues in Language Planning 15(3): 265–281. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2016a “The Victorian School of Languages as a model for heritage language education.” In Handbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education, ed. by Peter Pericles Trifonas and Themistoklis Aravossitas, 39: 1–13. Cham: Springer International Publishing. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
2016b “High stakes assessment of heritage languages: The case of the Victorian Certificate of Education.” In Handbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education, ed. by Peter Pericles TrifonasGoogle Scholar
2018Language Practices of Migrant Youth: From School to Home. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
Wong-Fillmore, Lily
1991 “When learning a second language means losing the first.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 6(3): 323–346.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Woods, Anya
2004Medium or Message? Language and Faith in Ethnic Churches. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
Wyman, Leisy Thornton
2012Youth Culture, Language Endangerment and Linguistic Survivance. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.DOI logoGoogle Scholar