Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2542-9477
  • E-ISSN: 2542-9485



This paper argues for a greater consideration of the role of register in the retention of heritage languages by analyzing data on adolescent heritage-language speakers in Germany. The study addresses the following question: Which language external factors have the greatest impact on heritage-language retention in the intimate vs formal registers? A questionnaire was filled out by 202 students (age 15–17) in an urban area in Germany, who are all heritage-language speakers of 42 different languages. The major finding of this study is that heritage-language retention is determined by different language-external factors in each register. The fact that different models of heritage-language retention can be postulated for different language registers emphasizes the need to describe the language competences of heritage-language speakers according to registers.

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