Family Language Policy and dialect maintenance in the Lithuanian diaspora


  • Meilutė Ramonienė Vilnius University Author
  • Jogilė Teresa Ramonaitė Institute of the Lithuanian language Author



Lithuanian diaspora, dialect maintenance, Family Language Policy, Lithuanian dialects


In this article, we adopt Spolsky’s Family Language Policy framework and Curdt-Christiansen’s dynamic model to explore the situation of dialect maintenance in the Lithuanian diaspora of three emigration waves. The qualitative data from in-depth interviews with representatives of all the waves or their descendants, resident in different continents, is explored to reveal the family language policy and the main factors that influence it. Different family language policies concerning dialect have been adopted by the different emigration waves for a combination of reasons, such as motives for emigration, education, language and dialect situation and language ideology in Lithuania at the time of leaving the country. The internal factors would favour dialects in situations where the dialect speakers themselves emigrate, but the external ones often have a stronger impact in the complex context of heritage language maintenance concerning passing on the language to the younger generation. This study of family language policies applied in different historical periods adds to a better understanding of the complex and dynamic reality of language maintenance in diasporic contexts.

Author Biographies

  • Meilutė Ramonienė, Vilnius University

    Meilutė Ramonienė is a Professor at the Faculty of Philology of Vilnius University (Vilnius, Lithuania). Her research interests include applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, language attitudes, dialect use.

  • Jogilė Teresa Ramonaitė, Institute of the Lithuanian language

    Jogilė Teresa Ramonaitė is a Research fellow at the Institute of the Lithuanian Language (Vilnius, Lithuania). Her research interests are sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, second language acquisition.


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How to Cite

Ramonienė, M., & Ramonaitė, J. T. (2024). Family Language Policy and dialect maintenance in the Lithuanian diaspora. Sociolinguistic Studies, 18(1-2), 133-154.