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New spaces of new speaker profiles: Exploring language ideologies in transnational multilingual families

  • Josep Soler (a1) and Anastassia Zabrodskaja (a2)


This article looks at Spanish-Estonian speaking families and their language ideologies in relation to language use in the family setting—how parents decide to use languages among themselves and with their children. Family members choose different languages for different purposes when they talk to one another. In our study, parents draw on their knowledge of the ‘one parent–one language’ strategy but also translanguage for different reasons, constructing new patterns of bilingual modes. In the article, we examine parents’ attitudes towards language maintenance, transmission, and use with their children. We incorporate the lens of ‘new speaker’ research to analyse the empirical data collected in Tallinn households among Spanish-Estonian speaking families so as to contribute to a better understanding of family language policy, planning, and management, highlighting how macro-level sociolinguistic expectations and norms might be elaborated on the micro level in everyday social interactions. (Family language policy, language ideology, new speakers, Estonian, Spanish)*


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Josep Soler, Department of English, Stockholm University, Universitetsvägen 10E 10691, Stockholm, Sweden


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The research leading to these results is based on the project FFI2012–35502 ‘Globalization and social family multilingualism in European medium sized linguistic communities’ (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness), GLOBLINMED, that expects to carry out research on declared language behaviour and language ideologies among both ethnolinguistic mixed and ethnolinguistic monolingual families in Catalonia, Valencia, Mallorca, and Galicia (Spanish regions) alongside Denmark, Netherlands, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. The project head is Prof. Emili Boix (Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona). The theoretical results are relevant and will be further investigated in the project IUT20-3 ‘Sustainability of Estonian in the era of globalisation’ (EKKAM). Research leading to this article has benefitted from ongoing discussions on the new speaker theme as part of the EU COST Action IS1306 network entitled ‘New speakers in a multilingual Europe: Opportunities and challenges’. This article benefited particularly from its inclusion in the workshop organized by the COST Action at Tilburg University (8 April 2016); special thanks to the workshop organizer Dr. Max Spotti (Tilburg University) and to Prof. Bernadette O'Rourke (Heriot-Watt University) for her insightful comments on previous drafts of the article during the event. We are thankful to the peer reviewers for their helpful comments and constructive feedback, as well as to the editor, Jenny Cheshire, for her support. Any remaining shortcomings are, naturally, our own.



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