Language Separation In Immigrant Families Essay

778 words - 3 pages

Language Separation in Immigrant Families

In America, each family usually has a standard language spoken in the household.
Communication is easy and mothers can talk with their children and they can connect with them. Some people who have this benefit are unaware that some families do not have this advantage in their homes. Lee Thomas and Linh Cao understand that some families have language change through each generation. Cao herself lived in house where her relatives used several different languages and learned first hand that there are many losses when a family doesn’t share a common language.

Thomas and Cao wrote this article specifically for parents and families that have language separation through generations. Both authors have background knowledge about language from their experiences. Thomas was a teacher of linguistics at the University of Nevada. Cao taught English at Sparks High School in Nevada. Cao also grew up in a family where the language predominately spoken by each person changed by age group. She was born in Vietnam and her first language was Hainanese, and she does not speak it as well now. She then learned Mandarin, which is not frequently used either. After 1975, she learned to speak, read, and write in Vietnamese. She is now comfortable with English but still uses Vietnamese. Her siblings learned Vietnamese first and then learned Mandarin or Hainanese. Now each child uses a different language with each other and their elders. The purpose of the article is to demonstrate that even families can be separated by language.

To show this point the author’s write about Cao’s experiences with a language struggle between family members. This narration gives the reader a close up look at how language works in a family. Besides using narration she always uses a little cause and effect by sharing the results of having language separation. She gave three examples of conversational situations in her household. The languages Vietnamese, Hainanese, Mandarin, and English are used interchangeably. Looking at the dialogues in the article made the conversation seem broken because there were four languages...

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