Ethnolinguistic vitality, language use and social integration amongst Albanian immigrants in Greece

The focus of this paper is on the relationship between Albanian speakers’ ethnolin- guistic vitality (
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This article was downloaded by: [Nikos Gogonas] On: 25 April 2014, At: 06:33 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rmmm20

Ethnolinguistic vitality, language use and social integration amongst Albanian immigrants in Greece a

b

Nikos Gogonas & Domna Michail a

Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, University of Luxembourg, Walferdange, Luxembourg b

Early Childhood Education, University of Western Macedonia, Florina, Greece Published online: 23 Apr 2014.

To cite this article: Nikos Gogonas & Domna Michail (2014): Ethnolinguistic vitality, language use and social integration amongst Albanian immigrants in Greece, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2014.909444 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2014.909444

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Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 2014 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2014.909444

Ethnolinguistic vitality, language use and social integration amongst Albanian immigrants in Greece Nikos Gogonasa* and Domna Michailb a Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, University of Luxembourg, Walferdange, Luxembourg; bEarly Childhood Education, University of Western Macedonia, Florina, Greece

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(Received 19 December 2013; accepted 15 March 2014) The focus of this paper is on the relationship between Albanian speakers’ ethnolinguistic vitality (EV) perceptions and their language maintenance, language use and choice patterns. A subjective EV questionnaire, and a language usage questionnaire capturing domain-specific language use was completed by 200 Albanian immigrants of first and second (one and a half) generation residing in various areas all over Greece. In addition, interviews were conducted with 180 informants from the sample to generate useful information for the qualitative analysis. The findings of this study chime with recent findings on Albanian immigrants’ social integration strategies. Data analysis uncovers three themes: first, language use is domain-specific, with preferences for the L1 in the home/family domain only, L2 being the language of choice elsewhere especially for the 1.5 generation; second, there are low perceptions of EV of the L1 group across the sample; and third, there is evidence for a shift in language use and competence as a result of an integrative attitude to migration by the respondents, governed mostly by practical reasons. Keywords: ethnolinguistic vitality; language use; social integration; Albanian immigrants; Greece

The ethnolinguistic vitality theory: implications for the present study The present study follows the social psychological construct of ethnolinguistic vitality (EV) (i.e. that which makes a group likely to behave as a distinctive and active collective entity in intergroup relations [Giles, Bourhis, and Taylor 1977, 308]). The challenge of the group-EV framework has been to provide a subjective assessment of how members of ethnic groups construe societal conditions impinging on their own and relevant outgroups. For this purpose, Bourhis, Giles, and Rosenthal (1981) devised an instrument called the Subjective Vitality Questionnaire (SVQ) to assess EV perceptions of individuals in intercultural contexts. The SVQ has been proposed as a means of measuring group members’ assessment both of their in-group vitality and of the vitality of out-groups. The EV model has been used in the Greek context to investigate the issues of language maintenance/shift in second-generation Albanians in Greece (Gogonas 2009). This present study forms part of a larger project which also investigates language competence, language use and language attitudes and its findings indicate a clear *Corresponding author. Email: [email protected] © 2014 Taylor & Francis

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N. Gogonas and D. Michail

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tendency towards language shift into Greek, especially within the second generation where the subjects appear to be dominant bilinguals in Greek and use mostly Greek in all domains. Although the concept of subjective vitality relates specifically to ethnolinguistic groups and language-based behaviours, its foundation is in the social identity notion of ‘social belief systems’ (1979) which relates to the entire spectrum of social groups and group behaviours. Along these lines, it is a goal of the present research to show that subjective vitality influences a broader range of behaviours than just language behaviour. Thus, the investigation of the role of subjective vitality in social incorporation and social mobility, including access to citizenship, as features of social adaptation in a multicultural context is one of the goals of the present study. As McEntee-Atalianis argues: The study of EV and EV theory will benefit from the application of ethnographic/ observational approaches and discourse analytic frameworks. These approaches and analytical tools could not only contribute to the development of current methodologies, including the development of traditional instruments, such as questionnaires, but also establish new frameworks of analysis, potentially giving greater ‘voice’ to the ‘researched’ and their social environment, and a more sophisticated analysis of multilingual/multicultural contexts and hybrid/complex identities. (2011, 152)

EV theory on its own does not provide the responses we need for exploring the relationship between receiving society policies and immigrant group reactions (Yagmur 2011, 119). Following the above rationale, we have attempted a combination of methods, in addition to the SVQ, namely semi-structured interviews. The interview questions elicit on Albanian immigrants’ social relations with the indigenous population, their attitudes to acquiring Greek citizenship and attitudes to the Greek language. Our data retrieved through the SVQ will be viewed through the theoretical context of the issues of ‘status’, citizenship’ and inclusion/exclusion presented above. More specifically, the paper addresses the following research questions: (1)

(2)

What are Albanian migrants’ perceptions of their group image (status) in Greece? To what extent do they feel discriminated against? What differences are noted between the two generations? To what extent do they feel they ‘belong’ in Greece? Do they consider Greece ‘home’ or a country of temporary residence in order to meet financial needs? Do these feelings of ‘belonging’ differ between the generations? What are the repercussions for language choice and language maintenance/shift?

‘Objective’ vitality of Albanian immigrants in Greece Demography Estimates in literature suggest that more than half of the migrant population in Greece are Albanians. According to Labrianidis and Hatziprokopiou (2005), the total number of Albanians in Greece is 450,000–550,000. It should be noted that an important segment of Albanian citizens are ethnic Greeks. This group holds Special Identity Cards for Omogeneis (co-ethnics) issued by the Greek police. According to more recent data from the Ministry of Interior in April 2008 there were approximately 275,000 Albanians with valid stay permits in Greece. Valid data on the exact number of Albanian immigrants in Greece are not available and at this point it must be noted that such estimation is difficult to make due to the fact that there is a lot of back-and-forth movement between Greece

Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

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and Albania. The case study of Maroukis and Gemi (2011) identifies a type of Albanian circular migration to Greece, among others; that of an irregular seasonal migration for work in agriculture, construction or tourism. It would also be worth noting that the Albanian irregular resident population has decreased substantially over the last decade due to regularisation and lately due to the visa-free entrance regime and a return trend to Albania related to the ongoing Greek economic, social and political crisis (Maroukis 2012; Michail 2013).

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Status The extremely negative perception that Greek society has about Albanian immigrants has been described by some researchers as ‘Albanophobia’ (Karydis 1996; Lazaridis and Koumandraki 2001). The Greek media has p...

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