Transnational flows, language variation, and ideology

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Migrant groups maintain ties to their region of origin to different degrees, but this variable factor has not been consistently integrated into sociolinguistic studies of diaspora communities. A balanced consideration of transnational interaction, as well as the social valuation of such ties, is needed in order to understand the development of diasporic varieties. This article examines the role of ‘material’ and ‘ideological’ conduits of transnational influence: Does a person’s transnational activity influence their language use? And can their ideologies of distant varieties, in particular Indian English (IndE), influence their language use as well? Focusing on the use of an IndE accent feature among second generation members of a British Punjabi community, I first develop an exploratory metric to track the impact of transnational activity on language behaviour. The analysis finds decreasing transnational activity over time as well as, independently, decreasing correlation with transnational factors. A qualitative consideration of the participants’ interviews points to positive alignment with educated IndE as a relatively prestigious variety, supporting not just a material but also an ideological basis for maintaining selected IndE accent features.


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