Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Mark E. Karan

Abstract

Using a mixed qualitative and quantitative approach, I explore immigrants' individual motivations for language use, language shift and language maintenance. I met with 25 immigrants to the US who are native speakers of Falam, a language from Myanmar, to learn their reasons for Falam and English usage as well as their desires for Falam usage in the US. I used the Perceived Benefit Model of Language Shift's taxonomy of motivations to classify each motivation expressed. Among Falam immigrants to America, I found that solidarity-related and communicative motivations are behind language maintenance while economic and communicative motivations are behind language shift. I conclude with a discussion on the role motivations play in forecasting ethnolinguistic vitality and initiating language development, suggesting the use of a wider framework such as Lewis and Simon's Sustainable Use Model to account for factors such as changing societal values and varying strengths of motivations.

Share

COinS