Multilingual Matriarchs I
“Mothers are more likely to be bilingual and bicultural” (Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, 2004).
“A mother’s death has also been found to increase the risk of child mortality more than a father’s death, underscoring the importance of maternal investment” (Davis et al., 2021).
— “Some women chose to write and publish under a male pseudonym in order to be taken more seriously. Some recognizable names from the 18th century such as George Elliot and George Sand were pseudonyms for female authors who preferred to publish under a male name (Eleanor Blau, 1989).”
— About 33% of women work online using either a pseudonym or a gender-neutral name to avoid discrimination (Hyperwallet, 2017).
Preface: Christia Spears Brown et al., 2020
In some low-income countries in which compulsory education is not required of all children, parents often send only their sons to school (UNESCO, 2010). Girls remain out of school more than boys do, with 15 million girls worldwide never attending school at all (UNESCO, 2016). Around the world, women account for two-thirds of the 750 million adults worldwide without basic literacy skills. In Southern Asia, in 1990, girls could be expected to receive only 6 years of education; they now receive about 12 years of education.
Mexican American parents are more likely to choose their daughters to translate for them (i.e., language brokering); the increased demand for language brokering for daughters, however, typically involves tasks that can be completed within the home, such as filling out paperwork (Love & Buriel, 2007; Valenzuela, 1999).
— The simultaneous acquisition of two languages from birth (De Houwer, 2009) (e.g., acquisition of heritage language & secondary strong language of one or both parents).
Women tend to maintain ethnic language more than men in some cultures due to their role in maintaining family values and cultural practices in the home rather than pursuing employment.
Notable work on Japanese-English intermarried couples in the UK gives an authentic insight into the difficult and ‘invisible work’ of mothers trying to raise their children bilingually.
Demonstrated that Spanish-speaking mothers were determined to make their children bilingual in spite of living with English-speaking husbands in an English-speaking country.
Sonia Wilson (2021)
Mothers carry responsibility of transmitting the minority language, with little or no support from the wider society (Okita, 2002; Smith-Christmas, 2016; Takeuchi, 2008; Yates & Terraschke, 2013).
In many cases, mothers are more likely than fathers tend to give up full-time employment in order to provide childcare (Lyon, 1996; Okita, 2002; Anna Matysiak et al., 2016), reflecting the traditional role of mothers as primary caregivers (Tannen, 2003). Women’s greater provision of childcare reinforces the unequal household division of labor & is a barrier to gender equality in the broader labor market (Bianchi et al., 2012).
One-Parent One-Language (OPAL; Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, 2004).
“Daughters more likely than sons (regardless of birth order or age differences) to interpret for their parents, but daughters were also far more likely to be bilingual; fluent in both spoken English and American Sign Language” (Preston, 1996).
“Female students communicated with their parents more frequently than male students and, similarly, parents initiated contact with daughters more often than with sons” (Wendy Lee Wen Ni, 2019).
Women have to maintain their cultural traditions, norms and beliefs in their families, while men are supposed to maintain intercultural contact.
RacioLinguistics — Ramjattan, 2018
In the realm of retail, Walters (2018) and Williams and Connell (2010) note that in addition to being female and middle class, employers tend to view White employees as the best workers for customer interactions. Similarly for fashion modelling, Wissinger (2012) describes how Black female models need to ‘whiten’ themselves through such things as hair straightening in an industry that associates beauty with White women.
There is little mention of how race is also salient in ‘sounding right’.
Indian call centre agents make themselves look better in the minds of western callers by ‘whitening’ their voices.
Perceptions of voice may differ depending on the type of body projecting it. One interesting counterexample comes from Cho’s (2017) study of the experiences of female interpreters in South Korea. Primarily due to the saturation of the interpreting market, these interpreters style their bodies to add value to their English proficiency (Cho, 2017). In particular, Cho (2017) notes how the women subscribe to patriarchal notions of feminine beauty through such things as fashion, make-up and even plastic surgery to enhance their chances of employment. The end result is that expertise in interpreting is determined by physical beauty: ‘English that comes out of the mouth of a beautiful woman is more valued than the words spoken by a less attractive woman’ (Cho, 2017, p. 166).
Even when it is not physically visible, race may still determine the value of voice. This point is suggested by Timming’s (2017) experiment involving US-born managers listening to recorded job interviews of five foreign-accented speakers of English. When asked to evaluate the employability of these speakers for customer-facing work, most participants rated the British- and American-accented speakers much higher than those with Chinese, Indian and Mexican accents. Even though the participants did not see pictures of the speakers, the fact that they perceived speakers from high-status, majority White nations as being more employable begs the question of whether they used accent as a proxy for racism. For example, did listening to a Chinese accent evoke a stereotypical image of a shy Asian applicant unable to speak?
[These studies] highlight the institutional/structural inequalities (such as employment discrimination) that racialized aesthetic labourers encounter when their bodies come to signify the quality of their voices.
Racialized groups can be generally perceived to not speak particular language(s) (varieties) well in spite of their actual proficiency (e.g. Lippi-Green, 2012; Piller, 2016) [due to the perceptions of] a White listening subject that hears racialized speakers ‘as linguistically deviant even when engaging in linguistic practices positioned as normative or innovative when produced by privileged White subjects’ (Flores and Rosa, 2015: 150).
Racial malleability is the everyday adoption of so-called White linguistic/ cultural practices to lessen the stigma of one’s racialized position in particular situations. [Which differs from trying to pass as White]
Roth-Gordon uses the concept of racial malleability to explore how these racialized youth alter negative perceptions of their racial appearances through the use of linguistic Whiteness. In police interactions, for instance, one participant notes how he engages in ‘self-whitening’ by using standardized Portuguese to present himself as a law-abiding citizen rather than a potential criminal, which his racialized body usually signifies.
Only children appear better linguistically (a non-significant trend), with less passive bilinguals.
— We see more trilinguals as 1st children, as one advantage of siblings is that they can increase the usage of a minority language. (Barron-Hauwaert, 2004).
The Data On Women’s Prowess (Brains > Brawn)
Girls’ reading ability is superior to boys in every OECD country/society (Margriet van Hek et al., 2019; Stoet and Geary, 2013; OECD 2015)
…a trend known for decades (Stroud & Lindquist, 1942).
Women obtain considerably more education than men in the vast majority of industrialized countries (DiPrete and Buchmann, 2013; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (hereafter OECD), 2015; Van Hek, Kraaykamp, Wolbers, 2016).
“By the time students reach Grade 12 there are over 2.54 times as many girls than boys that attain the advanced standard of writing proficiency.”
(Additional Data via: PiSA 2018 — OECD — Andreas Schleicher, 2018)
“The rigidity of sex roles may translate into decreased reading interest & motivation for some boys if there is a perceived incompatibility between reading and masculine norms (Marinak & Gambrell, 2010; Moffitt & Wartella, 1991; Mucherah & Yoder, 2008). Highly sex-typed individuals are motivated to keep their behavior and self-concept consistent with traditional gender norms (Martin & Ruble, 2010; Nash, 1979).”
Less motivation = less practice.
“There were twice as many boys falling into the category of poor writing than girls.
Girls have a faster rate of maturation and may therefore be attaining greater proficiency than similarly aged boys (Dwyer, 1973), making reading easier and more enjoyable. Such an explanation holds that boys are merely delayed (developmental lag) and boys would attain an equivalent language proficiency given sufficient time. However, this claim is inconsistent with studies showing gender differences in reading that persist into adulthood (Kutner et al., 2007).”
“Female language learners turned out to profit more from higher educational training than male learners do in adult second language acquisition.”
Women Benefit More From Education Then Men (Frans et al., 2015)
The gap between females and males widens with more years of education, signifying that females, ceteris paribus, profit more from more education. We found this increasing effect size for speaking, writing, reading, and listening proficiency.
Language teachers may respond differently to male and female students in secondary education. Or, vice versa, students may respond differently to teachers.
Finally, the Goldberg paradigm (Goldberg, 1968) predicts that females’ competences as compared to males’ will be downgraded not just by male raters but by female raters too. This paradigm still holds and is not just a relic from the past century, being too inaccurate to explain contemporary gender relationships (Moss-Racusin et al., 2012)
“Participants were willing to terminate the unattractive woman more frequently than the moderate or extremely attractive women” (Commisso, Finkelstein, 2012).
In parent-child relationships in multilingual settings, change is often inflicted on children as well as initiated by children (Pavlenko, 2011). First-generation immigrants often find themselves positioned between tradition and change, particularly when children are born into the target culture. The cultural transition may have negative effects, such as the decline of parental authority and status (2011). Alternatively, immigrants may come to reject a particular ethnic, cultural or gendered identity from their source culture, which may lead to emotional and cultural tension between children and parents. Cameron (1998) points to the paradoxical situation in which many immigrants find themselves with regard to cultural assimilation: while beneficial socially and economically, it may also undermine their way of life, their values, their beliefs, and ultimately their ethnic and cultural identity. It is exactly these cultural values that many immigrant parents wish to pass on to their children, while they simultaneously try to facilitate their children’s entry into the majority language and culture (Piller & Pavlenko, 2006).
Language choices made to suit (childless) couples may be revisited once children are born. First and childhood languages are often constructed as intimate and emotionally expressive in relation to parenting, allowing access to aspects of self not necessarily available in the language(s) learned later” (p. 153).
Across 26 countries (all countries where data exists for 15-year old students), girls outperform boys in reading, both on paper & via computers (OECD, 2018).
Workplace — Gunn Elisabeth Birkelund et al., 2021
Women’s and men’s working lives have changed considerably since the mid-20th century (Goldin, 2014). In nearly all OECD countries, women now have higher educational attainment than men (OECD, 2015). In many countries, women comprise more than 40% of the labour force (Pew Research Center, 2017)
Parents spend more time reading and teaching the alphabet to girls at very young ages (Baker & Milligan, 2016).
Translingual Literature — Aneta Pavlenko (2001)
Pavlenko, 2001: What does it mean “to be American” and is the meaning negotiable? Could one, for instance, “be American” and bilingual at the same time? Could one “become American”? Is one forever stuck in particular identity molds?
This rewriting of “assimilation” stories into all-American narratives represents perhaps one of the most important achievements of bilingual writers — instead of writing themselves “into” America, as did the immigrants at the turn of the century, these L2 users reimagine and rewrite America.
Multilingualism and Imagination
In what follows, I would like to summarize answers to my four research questions and reflect on what can be gained by the field of bilingualism from a close reading of bilingual writers’ memoirs. To begin with, the present study suggests that language learning memoirs of bilingual writers provide unique evidence of ways in which ideologies of language and identity in specific contexts impact language learning and use by particular individuals.
Most importantly, these testimonies force us to reconsider our definitions of “native speakerness,” “language ownership” and “linguistic competence” and to acknowledge linguistic rights of those who live and tell their stories in “the stepmother tongue” (Novakovich & Shapard, 2000).
Interestingly, it appears that many bilingual writers “discovered” the enriching and transforming relationship between their multiple languages, or multicompetence (Cook, 1992, 1999), much earlier than did experts in linguistics and second language acquisition, seeing the fusion of their diverse idioms as one of the key sources of their creativity:
When I speak Polish now, it is infiltrated, permeated, and inflected by the English in my head. Each language modifies the other, crossbreeds with it, fertilizes it. Each language makes the other relative. (Hoffman, 1989, p.273)
I did not stop being a Romanian poet when I became an American one. The Romanian language became my covert dimension, a secret engine, like childhood, while American English covered all the aspects of my lived life. In the deep interior I maintained this core of crisis, prayer, high diction — the phrases of drama — in the Romanian language. My daily language, American English, received both fuel and poetry from this core. Eventually they fused, but it took time. (Codrescu, 1990, p.46)
Sometimes I write in English and sometimes in Spanish. It depends. …I can control both and mix them. All the possibilities of blending two languages are at the disposition of our bilingualism. (Laviera, in Hernandez, 1997, p.80)
Pavlenko, A. (2001). “In the world of the tradition, I was unimagined”: Negotiation of identities in cross-cultural autobiographies. International Journal of Bilingualism, 5(3), 317–344.
Multiple-Heritage Marriage (V. Karandashev, 2021)
MAn emerging issue in multicultural counseling is the issue of cultural salience (Kwan, 2005). Salience in this context means the importance one places on one’s cultural heritage (Suzuki & Ponterotto, 2008). Whereas acculturation describes a person’s degree of orientation to the majority culture versus one’s ethnic culture (Yoon, Langrehr, & Ong, 2011), salience refers to the attraction and allegiance to a cultural identity. Thus, even couples with similar degrees of acculturation (e.g., first-generation Italian Americans) might have a different degree of love or acceptance for their Italian heritage.
Both acculturation differences and differences in salience can be troublesome for couples. Consider an Asian Indian couple in which one parent wants their children to become Americanized so that they can be accepted. They give them American names and have them adopt American dress and diet. The other parent is a traditional Hindu vegetarian who wants the children to retain their cultural identities. For one parent, being Indian is an important part of what should be transmitted to their children. For the other, fitting in is crucial. One potential result is a divided household with mixed messages and potential conflict between the parents. If the difference is of concern for the couple, an assessment of acculturation and cultural salience can be important in understanding and treating concerns as they arise (Frame, 2004).
Bias via @CambridgeWords:
— “the action of supporting or opposing a particular person or thing in an unfair way, because of allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment”
— “In a work environment with increasing linguistic diversity, contact with employees who speak a language that the focal employee does not understand could activate cognitive processes by which ingroups & outgroups could be formed” (Fiset & Bhave, 2021)
“The period in the example ‘Sounds good.’ could indicate the opposite of what the words literally mean, because one’s voice typically goes down when reading a sentence that ends in a period” (Mallenbaum, 2020). The ideas behind language are constantly evolving and changing, and the use of a period is thought to imply tones of seriousness and finality, and when these specific tones are combined with what would otherwise be considered positive text messages, then this can come across to the recipient as passive-aggressive in nature
More often than not, participants were very likely to select the text message responses that had a period at the end as the most negative in its implications. This showed researchers that it may be true that whenever the sender of a text message chooses to use a period at the end of their message, whether they are actually angry or not, it can cause the recipient to believe that somebody is being passive aggressive towards them, and this will then affect the way that they craft their answer in response, potentially confusing both parties as a result”
Bos et al., 2006 Daughters of lesbians were more likely to aspire to ‘‘masculine’’ occupations
Gay male couples are more likely to adopt since Xy men can’t get pregnant. By adopting they have more genetic equality with the child.
Lesbians are more likely to have one of them give birth & thus have biological parenthood. The other wife then adopts as the other mother. But the fact that one gave birth means they don’t have genetic equality with the child anymore. I wonder if that influences romantic satisfaction or family stability
Jealousy between the biological/gestational mom & the social coparent/adoptive mom may influence satisfaction in lesbian families (Goldberg et al., 2008; Sullivan, 2004). Goldberg et al. (2008) found that most of the children had preferred the biological mother at some point in the child’s life.
— trying to organize Schumm et al. (2014): none of the LGB children from the most stable lesbian families had ever been involved in any criminal activity; the high rates of criminal activity came from their heterosexual offspring (35% arrested, 25% convicted, 15.8% jailed). For offspring of the heterosexual families, the child’s sexual orientation did not appear to be associated with crime rates of any type. [Thus, one factor is] incongruence between parental and child sexual orientation
Among first-year college students across the United States, those with same-sex female parents are more progressive, but those with same-sex male parents are more conservative. Students with SS female parents are less heterosexual, more female, more first generation, lower income, slightly older, less likely to racially self-identify as white and more likely to racially self-identify as Black. Students with SS male parents are less heterosexual, less female, slightly older, and more likely to racially identify as Asian. Women with SS female parents are more likely to view race discrimination as a problem in the US.
Perils of Erasure
Communities that don’t get fully counted in the Census will miss out for the next 10 years. And that undercount would have a domino effect on political representation… on jobs… on healthcare centers… on funding for children’s classrooms… and so many other crucial resources.
Remember, we need a Census that truly reflects who we are. With an increasingly diverse population — geographically, culturally, and linguistically — too many of those residents will fall into communities the census has historically missed.
Brown, 2020 (Continued from the preface)
“Latinx families are typically more traditional in socializing gender roles than European American families (Azmitia & Brown, 2002; Baca Zinn & Wells, 2000; Hondagneu-Sotelo, 1994; Valenzuela, 1999), with women being more likely to maintain relational ties with families and preserve the ethnic traditions and integrity of the culture than men (Gil & Vazquez, 1996; Phinney, 1990). As such, girls are often trained to carry on that tradition and are often expected to remain close to the home and family. Boys are expected to gain independence and autonomy (Raffaelli & Ontai, 2004; Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006) and thus are given more freedom, mobility, and privileges than are girls (Domenech Rodríguez, Donovick, & Crowley, 2009; Love & Buriel, 2007; Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006); girls, however, often have more restrictions and are more closely monitored than are their brothers (Raffaelli & Ontai, 2004; Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006). Furthermore, girls, on average, are assigned more chores and responsibilities than their brothers (Raffaelli & Ontai, 2004).”