Family dynamics towards heritage language maintenance

The case of Indian transnationals in Northern Ireland


  • Anik Nandi Woxsen University, Telangana Author



Family Language Policy, heritage languages, migration, orientations in language planning, Indians in Northern Ireland


This article investigates Family Language Policy and grassroots-level practices of the heritage language speakers who are first-generation migrants of Indian background in Northern Ireland. Having been settled since the 1920s, Indians are one of the longest-established ethnic minorities in the region, representing around 0.5% of the total non-white residents. Whilst languages of migrant communities brought further complexity to the existing linguistic diversity of Northern Ireland, discussions around language policy in this geopolitical domain focus primarily on its two indigenous languages: Irish and Ulster-Scots. There is no particular policy to promote the languages of migrant communities. Drawing on ethnographic observations and two focus groups, the article analyses the language dynamics of eight Belfast-based families. It further demonstrates how these parents become policy intermediaries by monitoring their children’s heritage language learning through explicit teaching, creating a favourable literacy atmosphere at home, ensuring its use in the family through continuous policing and developing identity through constant dialogue with children about Indian culture. Although the under-the-radar participation of these parents may appear intermittently in the policy discourse, their actions can be interpreted as bottom-up language planning to contest the monopoly of the dominant language and culture in the broader community.

Author Biography

  • Anik Nandi, Woxsen University, Telangana

    Anik Nandi works as an Associate Professor of Multicultural Communication at Woxsen University, Telangana, India. Prior to this, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation at the University of the Basque Country (Spain). Anik investigates the complex association between governmental policies and how these policies are interpreted, implemented, and negotiated by various social actors in everyday situations. His current research focuses on sociolinguistic citizenship and family language policy in the contexts of the Global North and South.


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How to Cite

Nandi, A. (2024). Family dynamics towards heritage language maintenance: The case of Indian transnationals in Northern Ireland. Sociolinguistic Studies, 18(1-2), 199-221.