BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    “No, no Maama! say 'shaatir ya ouledee shaatir'!" children's agency in language use and socialisation

    Said, F. and Zhu, Hua (2019) “No, no Maama! say 'shaatir ya ouledee shaatir'!" children's agency in language use and socialisation. International Journal of Bilingualism 23 (3), pp. 771-785. ISSN 1367-0069.

    Children's agency in language and socialisation published version.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

    Download (508kB) | Preview


    Aims and Objectives This paper investigates how children in multilingual and transnational families mobilise their multiple and developing linguistic repertoires creatively to assert their agency in language use and socialisation, and why these acts of agency are conducive to successful maintenance of the so-called “home”, “community” or “minority” language. Methodology Close, qualitative analysis of mealtime multiparty conversations is carried out to examine children’s agency in language use and socialisation. Data and analysis Twelve hours of mealtime conversations within one Arabic and English-speaking multilingual family in the UK were recorded over a period of eight months. The excerpts selected for analysis in this paper illustrate how agency is enacted in interaction. Findings The data analyses of the family’s language practices reveals both their flexible language policy and the importance the family attaches to Arabic. The children in this family are fully aware of the language preferences of their parents and are capable of manipulating that knowledge and asserting their agency through their linguistic choices to achieve their interactional goals. Originality This paper explores how Arabic is maintained as a minority language by second and third generations of Arabic-speaking immigrants in the UK through close analysis of conversations. Significance The findings contribute to the current discussions of family language policy and maintenance by demonstrating children’s agentive and creative role in language use and socialisation. Three factors are identified as the reason for the successful language learning, use and maintenance of Arabic: first, a family language policy that has a positive multilingual outlook; second, family relationship dynamics that connect and bond family members; and third, the children’s highly developed ability to understand their parents’ language preferences.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Family Language Policy, Agency, Bilingual-Arabic speakers, Multilingualism, Language Socialisation, Transnational Families.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Zhu Hua
    Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2017 15:44
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:41


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item