Multilingualism and language maintenance in the East Timorese diaspora in Portugal
Ellipsis (Journal of the American Portuguese Studies Association)
American Portuguese Studies Association
The East Timorese linguistic repertoire is complex. It comprises Tetum, Portuguese (now both official languages in East Timor), Bahasa Indonesia and other local national languages. Moreover, different generations have different degrees of knowledge and use of these languages due to historical changes and resulting language policies in East Timor. In this article, we analyze multilingualism in the East-Timorese community in Portugal using sociolinguistic questionnaires on language use, choice and attitudes. The result of our analysis shows that the East Timorese multilingual repertoire is re-shaped in the immigrant context in the following way: Tetum is the only East Timorese national language which is maintained and functions as an East Timorese identity marker. Informants have a positive attitude towards Portuguese, clearly identifying it as a High language. Furthermore Bahasa Indonesia is still maintained to a certain degree in some domains.
notes: This is a co-authored article emerging from a British Academy Project (Small Grant no. SG100616) ‘Patterns of multilingualism among different generations of the East-Timorese diasporic community in Porto (Portugal)’. The project involved the distribution of questionnaires and the recording of informal conversations. This paper is based on the results from the questionnaires. Ellipsis is a peer-reviewed, print and electronic yearly journal in Portuguese studies produced by the American Portuguese Studies Association and currently edited from Princeton. The article is part of a special issue (2012) to mark the tenth anniversary of East Timor’s independence, drawing together scholarship on this former colony of Portugal. The results of the article have a high impact value. The results will be important to both stakeholders who deals with immigration in Portugal and language planners in East Timor.
Vol. 10, pp. 73 - 99
Place of publication
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