Transnational Sri Lankan Sinhalese family language policy: Challenges and contradictions at play in two families in the U.S.


This study examines how the transnational lives of two Sinhalese-speaking Sri Lankan families in the rural U.S. influenced family language policy (FLP) and how they (re)positioned themselves in response to their transnational lives. Employing an ethnographic design, including interviews and observations, this study explores the families' language ideologies and management strategies and the factors that shaped their policies. Both families held similar language ideologies but contrasting management strategies that were informed by a differing socioeconomic status and eventual home country return, and which in turn led to different ways of FLP formation and implementation. FLPs were aimed at accruing capital and social prestige to facilitate the navigation of spaces in family members' present and (imagined) future lives in Sri Lanka and the U.S., and possibly beyond; yet, these same policies created a sense of ambivalence in regards to transnationals' cultural and linguistic identities and attachments. The findings show the competing and contradictory forces at play in transnational bilingual children's heritage language development. This study draws attention to how transnationals navigate global citizenry and how they make decisions about language as they reimagine and refashion their membership into multiple communities in an interconnected world.

Publication Title