Language shift and maintenance in multilingual Mauritius: the case of Indian ancestral languages



Publication Details

Bissoonauth-Bedford, A. 2011, 'Language shift and maintenance in multilingual Mauritius: the case of Indian ancestral languages', Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 421-434.


"This paper reports on a research study conducted in Mauritius between June and July 2009. The aim of this research was to investigate the use of Indian ancestral languages in the domestic domain by the younger generations. The data were collected in the field by means of a questionnaire and interviews from a quota sample of secondary school population from an Indian background. An outline of the social and linguistic situation is given, followed by a concise account of the methodology and fieldwork. Finally, the results are analysed within the framework of language maintenance and language shift in a multilingual context and discussed with reference to an earlier study carried out by the author in the mid-1990s. The results show that although the ancestral languages are steadily declining and being replaced by Creole and French in the domestic domain, they are nevertheless still being maintained by the older generations and through favourable educational policies. Language choices and attitudes reveal that the study of ancestral languages at secondary level is perceived as 'not useful' and 'cumbersome' especially in this technological era, where a good command of English and French are associated with upward social mobility and academic success."

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