Transitional bilingualism : a study of the language experience of some families of Pakistani origin living in Britain
This thesis examines the bilingualism of nine families of Pakistani origin living in England, to gain an understanding of their experience of living through a period of rapid intergenerational language change. The families are all linked to the medical profession and the second generation are educationally successful. The study aims to gain insights into the social and linguistic processes of language shift. It also aims to contribute to understanding of the position of successful ethnic minority young people. Qualitative research methods are used, including interviews and participant observation and analysis of data is interpretive. A corpus of language use is analysed, focusing on intergenerational interaction and code-switching. Discussion of educational issues draws on policy documents. The fIrst three chapters constitute the preliminary section of the thesis. They present the research group, the social, linguistic and educational contexts, a theoretical framework and a critical description of the methodological evolution of the study. Chapters four to nine are data-based and focus on different aspects of the families' bilingualism. Accounts of early language nurture are analysed; bilingual skills and repertoires are investigated and the relationship between linguistic and cultural continuity is explored. A study of in-family bilingual interaction is presented and language education policy and its relevance to family concerns is considered. The study draws coherence from recurring themes, and insights into the experience of transitional bilingualism. Concern for educational success emerges strongly. The different signifIcance of using the minority languages inside the family and outside is revealed and the importance of long-term developments and cultural continuity is clear. Language education policies do not always reflect the priorities of the families. The linguistic situation of the families is very unstable but individuals may well take up very different intellectual positions in relation to their linguistic future.