Linguistic Assimilation across the Generations: An Analysis of Home Language among Second- and Third-Generation Children from Contemporary Immigrant Groups

Richard D. Alba, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
Jacob Stowell, University of Massachusetts

The U.S. is seen as a graveyard for languages other than English. However, given the high volume of immigration to the U.S. and the possibilities of transnational relationships, it might be argued that the viability of bilingualism among the U.S. born has been enhanced. To look for possible changes in patterns of linguistic assimilation, we replicate with 2000 Census data the analysis of children’s home language conducted by Alba et al. (2002) with the 1990 Census. Our descriptive results demonstrate that, while bilingualism appears more prevalent among the later generations descended from Latin American immigrants than it was among the descendants of Europeans, it remains a minority pattern; a three-generation assimilation to English monolingualism remains predominant for almost all groups. The multivariate analysis reveals that the determinants of home language have very similar effects to those found in 1990, suggesting that the dynamics of language assimilation have not shifted.

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Presented in Session 125: Immigrant Adaptation and Linguistic Outcomes