Special Issue "Language Policy and Practice in Multilingual Families"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2024 | Viewed by 443

Special Issue Editors

Baltic Film, Media and Arts School, Tallinn University, Tallinn 10120, Estonia
Interests: intercultural communication; family language policy; identity; ethnolinguistic vitality; linguistic landscape; language contacts; code-switching; translanguaging
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Natalia Ringblom
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language Studies, Umeå University, 90187 Umeå, Sweden
Interests: bilingualism; translanguaging; family language policy; heritage language acquisition and maintenance, with a particular focus on Russian in Sweden

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In this Special Issue, we welcome manuscripts of various types, such as articles, reviews, and conceptual papers of a disciplinary or interdisciplinary nature, that seek to contribute to the analysis of language policy and practice in multilingual families from a multidisciplinary perspective. The multilingual (resp. bilingual) family is a worldwide fact, as more and more families now use more than one language. This provokes situations in which the family is faced with the problem of maintaining a heritage language (mother tongue, home, immigrant or minority language), its transmission to the next generation, or a language attrition and shift towards a dominant (societal or majority) language. Language transmits culture and history; thus, the loss of one's heritage language can lead to the loss of inherited knowledge. As such, a conscious decision must be made by parents  to pass on language, especially as children enter adolescence and become more independent, including in their language choices (Okita 2005). Various factors influence the transmission of heritage language and culture, including: motivation (integrative and intrinsic motivation); its symbolic role; linguistic ideologies and language identity; socioeconomic status; social networks; religion; tendency towards social segregation or inclusion; language solidarity; the speaker's environment and the value of multilingualism in specific domains (family, school, community and individual); and the use of heritage language in public space and its usefulness and cultural value.

Family language policy is an established language policy used in the family, which is defined as “explicit and overt planning use of languages in relation to language use within the home and among family members” (King and Fogle 2008, p. 907).  Later, this definition was revised, defining family language policy as “in fact implicit, covert, unarticulated, fluid, and negotiated moment by moment” (King and Fogle 2017, p. 322). Bernard Spolsky (2004, 2021) links many aspects to family language policy, i.e., political, social, demographic, religious, cultural, and psychological, stressing that family language policy exists even when it is not explicitly expressed to the outside world. Research exists on how older children in the family context influence the language of younger children (Zhu 2005, Spolsky 2007, Bridges and Hoff 2014,), what happens to the heritage and societal languages when parents insist that older siblings speak only their native language with other family members (Schwartz 2010, pp.173–174), and what role grandparents play in preserving the heritage language and affirming it within the family (Luo and Wiseman 2000, Cantone 2019).

Addressing these and other issues of multilingualism in the family, this Special Issue seeks to address the problem of accommodating linguistic diversity throughout the world.

This issue seeks to promote languages as sources of meaning for knowledge, values, and identity, and focuses on the maintenance and transmission of language and culture in multilingual (minority, immigrant, transnational) contexts.

Prof. Dr. Anastassia Zabrodskaja
Dr. Natalia Ringblom
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.



  • family
  • identity
  • policy
  • language
  • culture
  • sociological approach
  • ethnography
  • sustainable society
  • majority
  • minority
  • transnational
  • transcultural

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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