language: [it][IT]

Evolving linguistic identities among the Italian-American youth: Perceptions from linguistic autobiographies

  • Hermann W Haller

This article focuses on linguistic autobiographies written by Italian-American students. Based on a small corpus of short linguistic biographies written in Italian linguistics courses, it aims at studying perceptions of evolving linguistic identities among Italian-American youth, with an emphasis on the second generation. The texts address changing linguistic behavior and attitudes, from childhood through adulthood, pondering exposure to Italian dialects, standard Italian, English and other languages. Despite differences among dynamically evolving individual identities, second-generation Italian-American youth tends to value non-standard varieties, particularly through the memory of their childhood dialects. They also appear to value multilingualism in the urban environment. Writing short linguistic autobiographies was considered a challenge by their authors and, despite their approximations, deliberate omissions and memory lapses, valued as a step toward greater language awareness.