Language Choice and Language Shift in Trigenerational Subanen Families: A Mixed Methods Study

Philippines, IS LLCE2016-284;      Language choice, which refers to the selection of language(s) for varying purposes and contexts among different individuals or groups, has become a sociolinguistic phenomenon of interest in today’s reality of widespread societal bilingualism. Anchoring on Giles and Powesland’s (1975) Communication Accommodation Theory and Fishman’s (1968) Domain Analysis, this study aimed to determine the language choices of the tri-generations of bilingual speakers (grandparents, parents, and children) of the Eastern Subanen tribe in the eight diglossic domains suggested by Downey (1986), Fishman (2000) and Parasher (1980); and to examine the underlying reasons and sociolinguistic factors that govern their language choices. Using a mixed methods design, 186 respondents got involved in the survey and 15 participants took part in the sociolinguistic interview. Quantitative data collected through the survey were analyzed statistically while qualitative data from the interview were thematically analyzed. The findings of the study indicate that the respondents across all generations chose Cebuano-Bisaya in five of the seven diglossic domains considered. It is only in the domains of family, neighborhood, and friendship that they use Subanen for more intimate conversations. The Cebuano-Bisaya language was found to be used predominantly as a result of the influence of the speakers’ language proficiency and educational qualification; the speakers’ and those of their interlocutors’ knowledge and ability to use the language; and also their sense of solidarity and social identity.

 

 

Keywords: Language Choice, Reasons for Language Choices, Eastern Subanen Tribe, Bilingualism, Diglossia, Domains of Communication, Dominant Language

 

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