Portuguese Heritage Bilingualism in the United States

Authored by: Jason Rothman , Tiffany Judy

Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States

Print publication date:  January  2014
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415520669
eBook ISBN: 9780203122419
Adobe ISBN: 9781136332494


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In a country such as the United States, in which so much of the cultural composition is the result of centuries of immigration, speaking of heritage languages (HL) should be commonplace. In recent years, the increase in HL studies by linguists, educators, sociologists, and anthropologists, among others, has brought this topic to the forefront of social sciences to the benefit of everyone. Although there is no legislated official language of the United States, a fact surprising to many, it should be uncontroversial to state that English is the de facto lingua franca. However, the United States has always been and is increasingly rich in diversity of languages spoken by large portions of the population. In fact, “Language diversity in the United States has changed rapidly over the past three decades. The use of a language other than English at home increased by 148% between 1980 and 2009” (Ortman & Shin, 2011, p. 2). Of course, this increase is not equally shared across all languages but reflects the disproportionate immigration realities of these decades.

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