Loss of Heritage Languages in the United States
This chapter is an examination of the personal side of language maintenance and language shift in the United States, as told by Asian‐Americans from immigrant families. Pertinent selections were taken for over 250 “language autobiographies” submitted over several years in a course at the University of California at Berkeley. In these autobiographies, the students reveal their struggles with learning English and the concomitant decline of their heritage tongue. They describe from a personal point of view the processes of language attrition and the embarrassments, intergenerational isolation and ultimate regrets coming from their own illiteracy, incomplete learning and attrition of their family's native language. The conclusion points out the waste of heritage languages which, if supported better in the school system, could be important resources for the United States.
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