Language reclamation in the family

Breaking the cycle of silence


  • Pia Lane MultiLing, University of Oslo



decoloniality, family language policy, Indigenous language revitalization, language ideology, language socialization, multilingualism


Oppressive policies have led to a devaluation of Indigenous cultural and linguistic practices, which in turn have contributed to disruption of language transmission in the family. In this article, I take a longitudinal perspective by first discussing the role of the family in language shift and then exploring how people who have learned Sámi (an Indigenous language in Norway) in the educational system decide to speak Sámi when they become parents. I draw on data from sociolinguistic interviews, fieldwork, interviews in the media, blogs and my own background from a coastal Sámi family. The goal of this article is to explore the motivations and experiences of Sámi parents who decide to speak Sámi with their children and to discuss how some of the challenges faced by these parents may be the result of silences brought about by our colonial past, in this case the domination of Norwegian. Language reclamation is a form of decolonization because agency resides with the speakers and because this may contribute to disrupting colonial heritage and heal hurts from the past.

Author Biography

  • Pia Lane, MultiLing, University of Oslo

    Pia Lane is Professor of Multilingualism at MultiLing – Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan at the University of Oslo, Norway. Her research focuses on multilingualism, with a particular emphasis on language policy, language shift and language revitalization of Indigenous and minoritized languages. She served on the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


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How to Cite

Lane, P. (2024). Language reclamation in the family : Breaking the cycle of silence . Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 4(2), 244-264.