Aspasia Chatzidaki, Ioanna Xenikaki: Language choice among Albanian immigrant adolescents in Greece: The effect of the interlocutor’s generation


Research in bilingualism developed in immigrant contexts (Clyne, 1991; Clyne & Kipp, 1997; Li Wei, 1994; Pauwels, 2004, etc.) has demonstrated that the use of the ethnic language usually diminishes as a function of the generation the speaker and his/her interlocutor belongs to: while parents use the second language to a smaller or larger extent, their children soon develop a preference for the majority language and use it especially with same-age interlocutors. This paper reports findings related to a questionnaire study conducted in Crete in 2009 (Xenikaki, 2010) with the aim to investigate patterns of Greek and ethnic language use among the immigrant-origin secondary-school students of Ierapetra. In particular we discuss the Albanian students’ (N=79) patterns of language use with family and friends and the potential influence of the interlocutors’ generation on language choice. Our findings suggest that our subjects still use frequently the ethnic language with family members but its use diminishes along age lines, something which concurs with previous research. The tendency to use the majority language with siblings and peers is also clear. However, for the time being the ethnic language can be said to hold its ground in this particular community.