The social value of Spanish among transnational Latin American families in Italy
Keywords:language ideologies, family language policies, Spanish, Latin American diaspora, Italy
The aim of this paper is to explore the value of Spanish through the study of the ideologies and subjectivities represented in the discursive practices of some transnational Latin American families that underwent processes of diaspora to Italy. In particular, the goal is to focus on their family language policies by exploring the relationship between linguistic uses, identities, and ideologies. In the current context of neoliberalism, many scholars have highlighted how language has become a commodity (Holborow, 2007; Block, Gray, and Holborow, 2012; Heller and Duchêne, 2012) or, in terms of Bourdieu (1991), a symbolic capital, i.e., a system of values that social actors associate with a particular linguistic use in a specific economic and political context, determined by certain power relations. In global contemporary diasporas, in line with the colonial era (Mignolo, 1992; Heller and McElhinny, 2017), the perceptual and evaluation schemes of linguistic practices continue to be strongly determined by the centre-periphery relationship. This same language regime is reflected in the social value of Spanish that emerges in the discursive practices of Hispanic families in Italy. The data, in effect, demonstrate a clear perceptual inequality between the Spanish of the diaspora, marginalised by its condition of minority language and delegitimised for representing a deviation from the monoglossic norm (Silverstein, 1996), and the central languages (‘standard’ varieties of Spanish and Italian), understood as convertible resources in the global linguistic market and more
desirable in terms of social mobility.
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