Coon Valley Norwegians Meet Norwegians from Norway
Language, Culture and Identity among Heritage Language Speakers in the U. S.
This article focuses on linguistic and cultural identity constructions in interactions between members of the last generation of a former heritage language speaking community and speakers from the homeland of their ancestors. The data come from fieldwork involving narratives of personal experience in a Norwegian heritage community in the U.S. that is currently undergoing a language shift. Results revealed that speakers negotiated various identities through their categorization strategies and positioning towards their heritage language and culture. Language is still esteemed as a marker of cultural identity; however, emphasis on cultural artifacts and traditions for accentuating ethnic identity in the U.S. is also made by those whose fluency in the heritage language was faltering. Narratives of personal experience provide a privileged site for investigating issues of language, culture and identity among heritage language speakers.
Keywords: identity constructions, language choice, language maintenance, language shift, narratives, Norwegian heritage community
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