Being socialised into language shift: the impact of extended family members on family language policy

Cassie Smith Christmas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines a family language policy (FLP) in the context of an extended bilingual Gaelic-English family on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. It demonstrates how certain family members (namely, the children’s mother and paternal grandmother) negotiate and reify a strongly Gaelic-centred FLP. It then discusses how other extended family members (the children’s father, his sister and brother) occasionallyparticipate in this Gaelic-centred FLP; however, at the same time, these speakers alsoparticipate in language shift by maintaining English as their peer group language andreplying in English when addressed in Gaelic. The paper argues that these linguistic
practices socialise the children into the norms of language shift, resulting in the children’s low use of Gaelic. The paper also discusses the possible negative impact of the father's use of Gaelic in disciplining his children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-526
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2014


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