Keywords:society, identity, language preservation, language education, multilingual settings, translation, culture specificity
Dear Sustainable Multilingualism community,
Welcome to the twenty-second issue of the journal. As before, this time Sustainable Multilingualism offers studies on a wide range of languages, which very explicitly reflect the mission of the journal to promote and sustain multilingualism. A number of articles deal with the topics related to first, mother tongue, or heritage languages, which is the issue of utmost concern in the world where one or another language tends to dominate over smaller minority languages and where the preservation and sustainability of languages sometimes require not only top-down but bottom-up efforts as well, to ensure that younger generations maintain the unique heritage languages. In multilingual Europe, linguistic diversity is seen as an asset that has to be preserved. The European Commission proposes seeing language learning as a dynamic process in which “the acquisition of the mother tongue and its different registers and styles continues and is deeply interlinked with the learning of other languages, in different levels of proficiency, corresponding to every learner's circumstances, needs and interests” (2018, p. 1). Indeed, in the globalised world, in which migration for various reasons, transnational mobility and other socio-political processes are common, multilingualism has become a norm rather than an exception.
The studies from New Zealand, Croatia, Malaysia, India, and Latvia, presented in the current issue, reveal diverse issues people face in their attempts to preserve their languages, and studies from Canada, Turkey, and Lithuania focus on contemporary language learning and teaching as well as language translation issues.
The Society. Identity. Language Preservation and Revival section focuses on heritage languages. Mi Yung Park describes the experiences of bilingual Korean-American students studying Korean as their heritage language in a university in Hawai’i. This case study reveals the students’ self-reported regression in the heritage language abilities and a switch to English at first, but later their voluntary effort to search for and use the opportunities to practice their heritage language helped to regain their skills, which in turn formed a strong sense of their ethnic identity involving two cultures and languages. Then, by focusing on the Ethnolinguistic Vitality Theory, Syed Harun Jamallullail and Shahrina Md Nordin delve into the topic of language vitality and survival (language sustainability). Group motivation to maintain a language is identified as a key to success. To continue the topic of heritage languages in this issue, Sneha Mishra and Md Mojibur Rahman discuss the ethnolinguistic vitality of Gulgulia. The study implies that the heritage language is nearly extinct, since the members of the community can hardly speak the language in its pure form, its main speakers are over sixty years old, and the younger generation is not motivated to learn the language.
The Language Education in Multilingual and Multicultural Settings section includes a study by Dace Markus, Tija Zīriņa and Kārlis Markus who research Latvian language skills of minority pre-school age children. They highlight that regardless of the nationality, the Latvian language skills of the children who daily attended pre-school education groups with class activities carried out in Latvian meet the state language requirements for further education. As a result, these children do not experience linguistic difficulties at school level, as the language of instruction is Latvian. On the other hand, the situation is different with the children whose dominant language is Russian, since their Latvian skills are insuficient despite the attended pre-school education groups in Latvian. The next two articles in this section are related to Turkish as a first or heritage language. Nuray Caylak Toplu and Ismail Hakki Erten tackle the relationship between first (Turkish) and second (English) language reading motivation, reading habits and vocabulary size. The study demonstrates that the vocabulary size in the first language is the best predictor of the vocabulary size in the second language. In addition, the first language reading motivation and habits can predict second language motivation and habits. This means that the first language vocabulary size and reading habits have effect on the second language vocabulary size and reading habits. Selçuk Emre Ergüt and Bayram Baş analyse language anxiety among Turkish heritage language learners in Germany. Their study reveals the learners’ low heritage language anxiety, but the anxiety levels are higher in-class than out-of-class. In addition, the authors focus on particular variables that are (not) related to heritage language anxiety and suggest how to decrease it. The section also includes a study by Laurine Dalle on an under-researched topic of dyslexia in bilingual Arabic-French children. Most of other researchers so far have focused on either bilingualism or dyslexia, not both, so this study is innovative, important, and complex at the same time. It can be seen as one of the first steps in helping to identify dyslexia in bilinguals.
The Issues of Culture Specificity in Translation section offers our readers two publications about translations of films and fiction. Jurgita Kerevičienė investigates how multilingual narratives in three Lithuanian films are rendered for deaf or hearing-impaired viewers, concluding that such translated and subtitled narratives only partially convey multilingualism. Consequently, the author suggests certain improvements. Aurelija Leonavičienė and Gintarė Inokaitytė compare the use of culture-specific items and their translation from Lithuanian into English and French in a novel by Ričardas Gavelis (1950–2002), a Lithuanian prose writer and playwright. The authors provide evidence that the English translation tends to use the strategy of foreignization, while the French translation prefers domestication. The section ends with a study by Giedrė Valūnaitė Oleškevičienė, Vitalija Karaciejūtė and Dalia Gulbinskienė exploring Lithuanian discourse markers and their relations in a multilingual corpus. They contrast examples in English and Lithuanian and provide guidelines on how to compare Lithuanian and English discourse-annotated texts.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this issue: the authors who have chosen Sustainable Multilingualism for their research publications, reviewers who have spent their precious time on providing valuable constructive feedback and ideas for improvement of the manuscripts, editors, and others whose effort and energy have helped our mission to continue sustaining, supporting and promoting multilingualism.
Aurelija Daukšaitė-Kolpakovienė, Associate Editor-in-Chief
European Commission. (2018, May 22). Annex to the proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on a comprehensive approach to the teaching and learning of languages. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/resource.html?uri=cellar:1cc186a3-5dc7-11e8-ab9c-01aa75ed71a1.0001.02/DOC_2&format=PDF