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Mixed-Heritage Individuals: Claiming Legitimacy with Limited Heritage Language Abilities
Current Issue
Volume 2, 2015
Issue 4 (September)
Pages: 62-71   |   Vol. 2, No. 4, September 2015   |   Follow on         
Paper in PDF Downloads: 44   Since Sep. 29, 2015 Views: 1919   Since Sep. 29, 2015
Authors
[1]
Mahanita Mahadhir, Department of Languages and Social Science, Centre for Foundation and General Studies, Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia.
[2]
Nor Fariza Mohd Nor, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.
[3]
Hazita Azman, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.
Abstract
Mixed-heritage individuals are the offspring of intermarriages between people from different ethnicities. Their lives revolve at the intersection of two or more cultures, and as a result, they are often questioned about their heritage loyalty and sense of belonging. One criterion that is often used to assess their heritage loyalty and legitimacy is the ability to speak their heritage languages. For mixed-heritage individuals who are unable to speak their heritage languages, this inability not only poses a communication problem with their monolingual maternal or paternal family members but also accentuate the fact that they lack one important cultural element in order to gain legitimacy within their heritage groups. Using semi-structured interviews and vignettes, this pilot study explored the perceptions of five Malaysian mixed-heritage individuals regarding their inability to speak their heritage languages. It also investigated their strategic competence in coping with their limited proficiency in heritage languages as well as identified the cultural means they used to claim legitimacy within their heritage groups. Findings showed that despite negatively perceiving their limitations in using their heritage languages, the participants strived to employ certain strategies to solve their communication problems and claim legitimacy within their heritage groups through different cultural means.
Keywords
Mixed-Heritage People, Inter-Marriage, Heritage Language, Heritage Legitimacy, Strategic Competence, Qualitative Method
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