Proficiency in English, linguistic shift and ethnic capital: An intergenerational analysis of non-English speaking background immigrant groups in Sydney, Australia
School of Arts and Humanities
Much is known about immigrants’ majority language proficiency in the first (immigrant) generation. Less is understood of differences in linguistic shift compared with heritage language retention in subsequent generations. Focusing on Sydney, Australia’s largest ‘EthniCity’, we build on Clyne and Kipp’s (1999. Pluricentric Languages in an Immigrant Context. Berlin: de Gruyter) and Chiswick and Miller’s (1999. “Immigration, Language and Multiculturalism in Australia.” Australian Economic Review 32: 369–385) work on variations among non-English speaking background (NESB) immigrant groups in proficiency with or sole use of spoken English in the first generation. We then compare this with an extension of Borjas' (1992. “Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 107: 123–150) work on ethnic capital to examine linguistic shift and heritage language retention in the second and third generations. While results show linguistic shift mostly occurring over two or three generations, they also highlight differences among NESB groups, associated with particular cultural backgrounds, holding constant human capital and other socio-demographic factors. They further demonstrate the continuing though equally varied intergenerational importance of contextual (residential concentration) influences on heritage language retention.