The meanings of language transmission : the experiences of migrant mothers living in Saskatoon
Faria Chapdelaine, Raquel Sarmento
In this study, I explored the language transmission experiences of migrant mothers living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Specifically, I examined the meanings and stakes of language transmission experiences, taking into account the migrant mothers’ constructions of first languages and/or English transmission experiences with their children in the context of migration. Employing (a) Brunner’s (1986) and Good’s (1994) narrative approach to ethnography and critical phenomenology as well as (b) Kleinman’s (1995, 1999) theory of moral experience and Godbout’s (1998) formulations of social exchanges as my primary theoretical framework, I carried out in-depth, open-ended interviews with 13 mothers from nine different countries, namely, Afghanistan, Argentina, Chile, Japan, India, Iran, Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine. The resulting language transmission narratives were then organized into four distinct language transmission plots, which were formed—not on the basis of ethnicity—but on the basis of similar migration trajectories and background characteristics. Some of the most noteworthy findings were as follows: (1) portrayals of the objects of language transmission (e.g., first languages and English) and of language transmission experiences were not static as previous literature has suggested, but dynamic, varying across time and social context; (2) the stakes involved in the transmission of first languages were depicted as high as the stakes inherent in the transmission of English; and (3) the long-term language transmission goal of at least half of mothers in the sample was not simply bilingualism, but instead multilingualism. In the Conclusion of the thesis, I not only detailed how the present study contributed to the literature on language transmission, but I also elaborated on the following topics: (a) the role of subjunctivizing tactics on language transmission narratives, (b) language transmission as an intersubjective enterprise, (c) language transmission as a plural and dynamic process, and (d) language transmission as moral experience. The applications and limitations of the study as well as directions for future research were also presented in the concluding chapter.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Copyright DateDecember 2010