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Pre and Post Migration: Identity, Language Use and Attitudes among the Wellington Iraqi Community

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dc.contributor.advisor Marra, Meredith
dc.contributor.advisor Holmes, Janet
dc.contributor.author Tawalbeh, Ayman Ziad
dc.date.accessioned 2017-04-05T05:23:08Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-11-03T20:39:09Z
dc.date.available 2017-04-05T05:23:08Z
dc.date.available 2022-11-03T20:39:09Z
dc.date.copyright 2017
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/30090
dc.description.abstract There has been a considerable amount of research on language maintenance and shift (LMLS) in New Zealand in the last four decades. However, most of this research has focused on investigating immigrants‘ experiences and attitudes in their host countries only. In addition, the analysis of LM has generally focused on the macro level without exploring the dynamics of LMLS at the micro-level where language is used and negotiated. This thesis addresses this gap by investigating LM dynamics among the Wellington Iraqi refugees within a ̳spatio-temporal‘ framework (Blommaert 2006, 2010; Hatoss 2013) and by employing a mixed methods approach in which quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analysed. The majority of the Iraqi community in New Zealandare refugees who fled or were evacuated to New Zealandbeginning in the mid-eighties. Iraqis comprise diverse ethnic groups (e.g., Assyrians, Chaldeans, Kurds, Arabs), religions (e.g., Islam, Christianity) and languages (e.g., Arabic, Assyrian, Kurdish). The analysis in this thesis centres on the two largest Iraqi ethnic groups in Wellington: the Muslim Iraqi Arabs and the Christian Assyrians. The investigation adopted a "spatio-temporal" framework (Blommaert 2010; Hatoss 2013) that takes into account the complexity and mobility of modern-day communities and their languages. Spatio-temporality recognises that LM involves complex interrelationships between space—whether geographic (physical) or symbolic (social) (Blommaert 2010)—and time (past, present and future). These frames are said to interact with each other and influence refugees‘ patterns of language use, attitudes and identities. Before settling in their new host countries, refugees experience a range of spaces which are filled with linguistic norms and expectations that inevitably influence language proficiency, practices, attitudes and identity construction. This investigation therefore focuses not only on post-migration experiences and (imagined) future spaces of language use but also on transit experiences and pre-migration attitudes. In order to obtain a rich analysis of transit experiences and pre-migration attitudes, I collected data from Iraqi refugees in Jordan, a major transit centre, who were preparing to move to New Zealand or had applied for refugee status in New Zealand. This phase involved semi-structured interviews with 14 Iraqi participants. Post-migration data was also collected from Wellington Iraqis using four methods: questionnaire, participant observation, semi-structured interviews and three extensive sets of home recordings. Analysisof the pre-migration data suggests the significance of transit experiences in explaining the variations in Iraqis‘ linguistic preferences and competencies and elucidates differences in language ability, use and attitude between older and younger generations. The analysis also indicates that pre-migration attitudes offer an understanding of Iraqis‘ attitudes towards LM before arrival, thus identifying factors that may enhance or hinder language use in New Zealand. The post-migration quantitative data demonstrates general trends in Iraqis‘ reported language proficiency, use patterns, and attitudes once settled in New Zealand. Iraqis possess high proficiency in their ethnic languages; however, there is a (slow) regression among the younger generation, with attrition in reading and writing abilities greater than in speaking and understanding abilities. Self-report language use patterns suggest that Iraqis‘ ethnic languages are often used and maintained in bonding (i.e. religion and interaction with Iraqi friends/neighbours) and translocal spaces (i.e. communication with Iraqis‘ in the homeland and diaspora) as well as in homes. The data also indicates that Iraqis typically construct positive attitudes towards ethnic LM, with the older generation sometimes reporting more positive attitudes than the younger generation. The analysis of the qualitative data provides insights into the complexities of language use at the micro-level and the multifaceted relationship between attitude, language use, religion and identity. It also demonstrates the heterogeneity within the Iraqi community and its impact on language use and maintenance. This is evident in Assyrian churches and Iraqi Arab homes where ethnic language, identity and religion -a core value for the majority of Iraqis -are negotiated and constructed differently, with consequences for the degree of investment in ethnic LM and learning. Overall, this thesis attempts to shift LM research towards a dynamic, multi-perspective approach. It recognises the heterogeneity of current-day migrant communities and the need to redefine traditional methods and incorporate fresh perspectives into LM research. The research bridges the micro-and the macro-level, and addresses the interplay of 'here and now‘ and 'there and then‘. en_NZ
dc.format pdf en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Language maintenance en_NZ
dc.subject Transition en_NZ
dc.subject Pre-migration en_NZ
dc.subject Iraqi refugees en_NZ
dc.subject Family language en_NZ
dc.title Pre and Post Migration: Identity, Language Use and Attitudes among the Wellington Iraqi Community en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics) en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Languages, Communication and Culture en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline Linguistics en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en_NZ
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ

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