Meanderings of an Amateur Linguist

Just me and my languages – a dangerous combonation

Heritage Languages

Posted by ILuvEire on March 13, 2009

As an American, I have roots from all over the world. I’m sure you do too (maybe not if you aren’t an American.) But have you ever thought of learning the language of your “people”?

Now I’m going to go on about myself, so if you don’t care then you can leave. It’s okay, I won’t say anything.

My biggest origins are Italian, German and Lakota. Much of my mom’s family is Italian(WHO REFUSED TO PASS DOWN THE LANGUAGE), but my greatgrandpa was Lakota (AND HE REFUSED TO TEACH ANY OF HIS KIDS THE LANGUAGE). Then my Dad is second generation immigrant, and…you guessed it HIS GRANDPARENTS DIDN’T PASS DOWN GERMAN OR YIDDISH. Of course, there’s also the Japanese grandpa on my mom’s side who didn’t want to pass down Japanese to his daughter. Thanks, by the way.

That’s right my whole family is filled with immigrants and NONE of them passed down the languages. They never even told me about being able to speak any of these languages! I just recently found out about my grandpa’s speaking Lakota (after his death no less).

So my life plan is to learn to speak all of these languages. I’ve studied every one of these languages to some extent (although I’m doing Cherokee right now, but Lakota will have its time).

What about you? Have you ever thought of doing something like this?


7 Responses to “Heritage Languages”

  1. Diogenes said

    Yeah, my father is a first-generation immigrant who speaks Cantonese natively, but the language was not passed down. I’m beginning to think that raising children bilingually is a lot harder than it sounds (or than we language dorks like to think it is), and I’m really interested in the factors that make people choose or not choose to teach their children their native language.

  2. Ian said

    Well, my ancestry is English (which I already speak, of course), African-American (I suppose I’ll do Swahili for that one) and Punjabi (I already know a bit, but I’d love to learn it properly).

  3. sjheiss said

    Well, I’m freaking pissed off that my ancestors didn’t teach their children Norwegian, German, and/or Scottish Gaelic (along with whatever Native American language one spoke). Although I’m fine with them not passing on French. xP

  4. Jumana said

    As far as I know, I’ve only got Arabic as a heritage language. wow.. 1 language.. very small number compared to all of you. I wonder how far and for how long can a language be passed a long from generation to generation.

  5. Cesar said

    As a person of Mexican descent with American-born parents that speak both English and Spanish, they never taught their children Spanish. I learned Spanish on my own starting about age 17. My mother’s father is Pascua Yaqui and I would like to learn that language as well as Nahuatl. Currently learning German for no other reason than its similarity to English. I will then learn Mandarin (always been interested in Chinese culture) and Arabic (broad and current importance), leaving Yaqui (Hiaki) and Nahuatl for the far future.

  6. Tommy said

    Yeah, I’ve actually really taken that into consideration.

    On my dad’s side, I have Lithuanian, Russian/Belarusian, and Polish. I’m not really sure If I should consider myself Russian or Belarusian. My great-granpa is from corrent dad Belarus, which was “White Russia” back then. aka a part of russia.

    on my moms side, im not so sure what i am… she says norwegian, polish, and irish & some other thigns she doesnt knwo. she doesnt knwo her real father, so thats a bummer ):

    And I know how you feel. Both my grandma (dead) and my grandpa (alive!) spoke/speak Yiddish. It would be kool to learn 🙂

  7. ILuvEire said

    Dude, you should jump on your chance with Yiddish! I wish my parents would have done that!

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