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[Insert Language(s)] and your heritage: Exploring your personal connections to language and culture

Netta Avineri (UCLA)


This presentation will introduce the model and five identified dimensions of “metalinguistic community”, a community of positioned social actors engaged primarily in discourse about language and cultural symbols tied to language. The model provides a novel practice-based (Bourdieu, 1991) framework for diverse participants who experience a strong connection to a language and its speakers but may lack familiarity with them due to historical, personal, and/or communal circumstances. As a case study of metalinguistic community, the presenter will discuss her three-year ethnographic research project on heritage language socialization in Yiddish language classes, cultural events, programs, and festivals in California and New York. In order to demonstrate a metalinguistic community in action in which groups use a dominant language like English to talk about a heritage language like Yiddish, participants will engage in interactive activities designed to explore their personal connections to a heritage language that they choose to focus on. We will then have an opportunity to discuss some of the ways that heritage languages play diverse roles in individuals’ lives, no matter their family background, educational experiences, and/or language proficiency.

Center for World Languages