Three generations of international families as examples of possible tactics in family language policy

Thematic Section: Language and communication in transcultural families

family language policy, transcultural bi/multilingual families, translanguaging, migrant families, language ideology

Tatiana Strokovskaya, JINR University Center, Dubna, Russia
This paper presents the phenomenon of inter-ethnic interaction, mutual influence and mutual penetration of the worlds of language and culture in the micro-cultural space of an international family. The globalization in the social sphere and the fact that state borders are easily crossable pose new tasks and new challenges in the everyday life of common people. One of them is the rise of the number of families, where partners of different nationalities speak different languages, have a different historical heritage, and a different ethnic and cultural background. These differences are manifested, most often and most obviously, in the process of upbringing children or family’s communication with relatives. The stories of three international families are viewed from the perspective of family language policy research. These examples illustrate three different strategies, which might be referred to as adaptation, assimilation, and multiculturalism. An Italian-Russian couple, residents of England, a Polish-Russian family, residents of Poland, and a French-Russian couple, residents of UAE, then of France, have chosen one of the listed strategies. Their reasons, motivation, and tactics are traced over three generations: parents, children, grandchildren to provide some tentative insights. These examples offer the possibility of delineating the output mechanism. The study also focuses on cultural aspects, such as sensitive or taboo topics of conversation, common points and differences in human contacts within the family, and, finally, tactics of code-switching, i.e. which language and/or which subjects should be spoken. It appears that complicated topics arise in inter-partner communic