Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


This study is a sociolinguistic investigation into the maintenance of heritage languages in Indian migrants residing in Sydney, Australia. Underpinned by Fishman’s (1972) Sociology of language theory and partly by Spolsky’s (2004) Language policy theory, it investigates the patterns of language use across and between the first and second- generation Indian migrants in a variety of situations and with various family members and other interlocutors. It focuses on both home and public domains. It also investigates the factors that influence the maintenance of Indian heritage languages in the Australian context. As far as we are aware, there are very few sociolinguistic studies in this area and none of those are in-depth studies and with these foci. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to fill this significant gap in sociolinguistic literature. This is achieved by the employment of a mixed methods approach, where the primary method of data collection is a survey in the form of a written questionnaire, and the secondary methods are semi-structured interviews and field observations. There were 230 first and second-generation Indian migrants involved in this study.

The results of the investigation showed that the first-generation participants were maintaining their heritage languages in most of the domains and were highly multilingual. Although the use of heritage languages with the second generation was low, this was not the case for all first-generation migrants. Some homes were epitomes of language maintenance, and the main factors that facilitated this were a high rate of use and transmission of heritage languages to the subsequent generations and strict family language policies in their homes. The religious domain and Hindi media were also identified as strong facilitators.

FoR codes (2008)

2004 LINGUISTICS, 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics), 200315 Indian Languages



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.