Japanese migrants in Australia and the problems of language maintenance : An examination of the differing views of war brides and later migrant women


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This is a study of language maintenance and language shift in the Japanese migrantcommunity in Australia. It focuses on female migrants, who by far constitutethe majority of that community, and, unlike most studies which focusonly on recent arrivals, ranges from the War Brides of the 1950s to the present.Using semi-structured interviews with migrants across several generations,it explores the complex mixture of motivating factors and obstacleswhich influenced the language choices of these women for themselves and fortheir children. The study pays particular attention to the impact of government policies in the host country, whether the assimilationist White Australiapolicy in force to the 1970s or the multicultural policy which followed it, andto the influence of cultural ideologies in the homeland such as Nihonjin-ron(the ideology of Japanese uniqueness) and Kokusaika (internationalization).It also identifies the key role of community institutions such as the JapaneselanguageSaturday School, and explains the importance of intermarriage andhow this could either inhibit or promote language maintenance depending onthe shifting social context. The study further demonstrates how differences insocial background and perceptions of gender roles and identities across theyears, in both Australia and Japan, have had a major influence on migrantwomen’s stance towards maintaining their language heritage



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