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Cast-away cultures and taboo tongues : face(t)s of first language loss Kouritzin, Sandra Gail 1997

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C A S T - A W A Y CULTURES A N D TABOO TONGUES: FACE[T]S O F FIRST L A N G U A G E LOSS by SANDRA GAIL KOURITZIN B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1984 M . A . , The University of British Columbia, 1987  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E DEGREE OF ' • DOCTOR  OF PHILOSOPHY• -  in  T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction Department of Language Education We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A August 1997 © Sandra Gail Kouritzin, 1997  In  presenting  degree freely  at  the  available  copying  of  department publication  this  of  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia,  for  this or  thesis  reference  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  and  study.  scholarly  or for  her  of I  I further  purposes  gain  shall  requirements  agree  that  agree  may  representatives.  financial  the  be  It not  by  understood be  the  of  / arsa/ jatj f  f-o/n  £-<gf.//<o>o  advanced  shall  make  allowed; without  it  extensive  head  that  -"  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  Library  an  permission for  granted  is  permission.  Department  that  the  for  of  copying my  my or  written  ABSTRACT This dissertation examines first language loss, or lack of first language development, i n minority first language children, trying to answer the questions: (a) what have been the consequences (negative or positive) of losing a first language?, and (b) what does first language loss mean both personally and literally? Taking a multiple life history case study approach, this dissertation seeks to understand first language loss from a descriptive, narrative, retrospective, and personal point-of-view, one heretofore overlooked i n language loss research. Linguistic life histories were collected through a series of interviews w i t h each of 21 subjects. Five of the life histories are included i n full edited form and are intensively analysed i n this dissertation. Additionally, all 21 case studies are reviewed i n an emergent theme analysis which examines the consequences of first language loss for family relationships, school relationships, school performance, and self image. A final section of the emergent theme analysis tries to determine the meaning of first language loss. A number of negative consequences of losing one's primary language are cited, including familial misunderstanding, loss of extended family, loss of parental closeness and guidance, anger and frustration toward the family, the school system and the community, poor scholastic performance i n some subject areas, poor self image, loss of employment opportunity and marketability, and loss of cultural identity. It is concluded that first language loss has had a significantly negative impact on many aspects of the subjects' lives.  iii Table of Contents ABSTRACT  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS  iii  ACKNOWLEDGMENT  vi  Overture  1  INTRODUCTION  4  On What Pretext?  8  A Pre/text for Language Loss Research: Executive Summary  10  A PRE/TEXT FOR L A N G U A G E LOSS RESEARCH  13  Definition of Terms Review of Empirical Studies Language Loss that Isn't: Language Shift Minority Language Families Individual Language Loss The Majority Language Culture Questioning Findings and Methodologies Limits of the Criterion Variable Approach Limits of the Predictor Variable Approach Considerations of the Present Study Ethnographic Studies of Language Loss Life History  13 15 16 19 24 28 29 30 32 35 36 38  A Musical Interlude.  41  Recording the Third H o r n : Executive Summary  42  RECORDING T H E THIRD H O R N  44  Life History Case Study Raison d'etre Subjects Procedure Interview Format Life History Selection Analysis Individual Story Analysis Emergent Theme Analysis Methodological Postscripts Found on the copy room floor  44 46 50 50 52 53 53 56 57 59  iv  Face-Touching: A Story-book: Executive Summary  61  FACE-TOUCHING: A STORY-BOOK Ariana: Introduction The Interview Context The Life History Context The Narrative Context Ariana's Story: But I'm Canadian-Born  63 64 64 68 72 79  Richard: Introduction The Interview Context The Life History Context The Narrative Context Richard's Story: English is a full-time job  89 89 94 99 104  Lara: Introduction The Interview Context The Life History Context The Narrative Context Lara's Story: A n Outsider Looking In  117 117 120 126 132  Brian: Introduction The Interview Context The Life History Context The Narrative Context Brian's Story: Nothing too deep  146 146 150 159 163  Helena: Introduction The Interview Context The Life History Context The Narrative Context Helena's Story: Learning the Rules  173 173 179 187 193  Borders.  208  Dwelling i n the Borderlands: Executive Summary  209  DWELLING IN T H E BORDERLANDS  215  Inhabitants Nadia William Dhiet Greta Alexandra Kuong  216 216 217 219 220 221 222  V  Kurt, Cameron, and Julian Alex Naomi HanaKim Minette Nellie Michael Charles Emergent Themes Family Relationships School Relationships School Performance Self Image The Meaning of Loss  •  223 224 224 226 227 228 229 230 231 231 241 248 254 266  N O T A FINALE: A DECRESCENDO Summary Implications Reflections  274 274 277 278  REFERENCES  280  APPENDICES Appendix A : Letter to the editor Appendix B: Sample Questions 1 Sample Questions 2 Appendix C: Consent Forms Appendix D : Text of Advertisement  292 292 294 295 297 299  vi ACKNOWLEDGMENT A n y list of all the people w h o encouraged me, assisted me, or otherwise contributed to this undertaking is bound to be incomplete. I want to thank my committee, Dr. M a r i o n Crowhurst, Dr. Donald Fisher, Dr. Margaret Early, and Dr. Patricia Duff for all of their time, energy, and care. In particular, I extend m y thanks to Dr. Crowhurst for at all times providing a model not only for the type of academic, but also for the type of person I w o u l d like to be. I also thank Dr. Fisher for always being a caring, warm, and empathetic "touchstone". I am most grateful for the support of my family and friends. M y mother and father never said "if y o u go to university", but instead always said "when y o u go to university", and they have stood by me every step of the way. M y parents-in-law have given their love and support, and have never openly asked what k i n d of wife their son has married. Thank y o u to m y brother and his family, m y sister-in-law and her family, and to Yumiko, w h o w i l l always feel like family. Thank you to Wendy, Katie and Laura, all of the volunteers for this study, and to Garold, w h o listened to this entire dissertation at least twice over the telephone, and didn't once miss a w o r d . A n d thank y o u most of all to m y husband for his love and support, his strength and guidance, his compassion and generosity, his sacrifices and for Hanika. A n d , thank you Hanika for teaching me the most important things of all.  A n d when I first encountered that flower-like  fragrance,  I came to realize that meaning and reality do exist.  For Hanika  and her daddy Satoru.  1  Overture Once u p o n a time there was a little girl named Sandie. Sandie grew up i n an ordinary middle class house i n an ordinary middle class suburb w i t h her father and mother and younger brother. Sandie's father was a professional engineer w h o was a high-ranking manager at the telephone company, and her mother was a housewife w h o went back to teaching w h e n Sandie was ten years old. Sandie lived o n a street w i t h the Petersons, and the O'Haras, and the Cowies and the Glovers, and the Martins and the Carmichaels and the Stanleys, and behind her lived the Carmacks and the Henrys, and it didn't take her very long to realize that her last name was different. Sandie's last name was Kouritzin because her father was born to Russian parents. To her chagrin, the neighbourhood kids called her "Fritzie-bum",—or sometimes "Russian dame". Sandie grew up w i t h a defiant pride i n her last name. Rather than being ashamed of her paternal heritage, she wanted to become more Russian. She hated the name Sandra, and wanted to be Alexandria instead. She tried to learn Russian words from a book, but she didn't have anyone to help her. (Her father d i d not encourage her to learn Russian, perhaps because he had grown up speaking Russian during the suspicious "Red Menace" era that followed W o r l d War Two, and only learned English w h e n he went to school.) From the beautiful items i n her grandparents' home, Sandie wove a fantasy tapestry of her Russian history that she believed i n more than she believed i n "the truth"—and she was ashamed when she discovered this made her a liar. But then Sandie became busy i n the process of growing up. She forgot about how m u c h she wanted to learn Russian, except when she was told that she had to choose between French and German i n high school. W h e n she left home to go to university, she became involved w i t h the Russian Community Center, where she was envious of all her peers w h o had been encouraged to learn Russian. But, except  2 for nagging regrets and momentary sorrows, Sandie was content. She completed an M A i n English literature, moved to Japan, married a Japanese man w h o belonged to a linguistic and cultural minority group, carved a career i n teaching English literature and language to university students, and eventually moved back to Canada where she enrolled i n a Ph.D. programme i n TESL. It was during her first year i n the Ph.D. programme that Sandie read about first language loss, and started to connect the concept w i t h her o w n life. She remembered her Japanese-American friend who, beginning at the age of 16, had been detained i n Japan, where she had gone to scatter her parents' ashes—and then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. Sandie recalled Emiko's struggle to speak English, and her o w n realization that Emiko could not speak Japanese well either. W i t h her expanding linguistic knowledge, Sandie became aware that her husband's native "dialect" was not a dialect at all, but a language w h i c h had been forbidden by the conquering Japanese (and nearly eliminated). Sandie became aware that language loss had been a recurring theme i n her life, one to avoid if her o w n children were to become not only bi-racial, but bi-cultural and bi-lingual as well. Keeping i n m i n d words from Shaw's Major Barbara that had fore-shamed  1  personal disclosures all her adult life—"Come, come, m y daughter! dont [sic] make too m u c h of your little tinpot tragedy" (1905, p. 140)—Sandie decided to tell the stories of people w h o had once k n o w n their first languages, but had lost them when they started school i n Canada. She decided to tell her o w n story only by way of explaining her passion for her topic, and her commitment to the prevention of first language loss during the acquisition of one of Canada's official languages.^ Sandie  rhis word has been made up by the author and means "to feel ashamed of one's words even prior to speaking". The form of this commitment is explained in: Murray, G. & Kouritzin, S. (in press) Rethinking Second Language Instruction, Autonomy and Technology: A Manifesto. System. lr  2  3 became involved i n her dissertation research, and these are the stories that emerged. Forthwith, Sandie w i l l be referred to as "I".3  I would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (award no. 752-95-1791) for supporting this research project. I would also like to thank the University of British Columbia for their Doctoral Graduate Fellowship and Ministry of Education Research Grant which made this research possible. J  4 INTRODUCTION  READERS' GUIDE Those readers w h o do not have the time or the energy to read this entire dissertation are advised to turn to the executive summaries w h i c h begin each chapter. Readers whose interest is limited to life stories and their context w o u l d be w e l l advised to turn immediately to Chapter Four. Those whose interest runs more to trends and themes i n research w i l l likely be most interested i n Chapter Five, and readers w h o are intrigued only by the creative i n w r i t i n g up research are directed toward Overture, A Musical Interlude, the introductions to each life story narrator, Borders, the first few paragraphs of Chapter Five, and the closing section, Reflections. Critics, friends, and m y examiners w i l l want to read everything and use the executive summaries for notation purposes.  So, if y o u want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is t w i n skin to linguistic identity — I am my language. U n t i l I can take pride i n m y language, I cannot take pride i n myself. U n t i l I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex-Mex and all the other languages I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself. U n t i l I am free to write bilingually and to switch codes without having always to translate, while I still have to speak English or Spanish w h e n I w o u l d rather speak Spanglish, and as long as I have to accommodate the English speakers rather than having them accomodate [sic] me, my tongue w i l l be illegitimate. (Anzaldua, 1991, p. 207) The theoretical framework informing this research project stems from current understandings of what is generally referred to as "first language loss", w h i c h usually refers to restricted minority-language acquisition i n a majority-languagesubmersion setting. First language loss may refer to lack of first language development, delayed first language development, or a progressive loss of previously-acquired language ability (Verhoeven & Beschoten, 1986).  5 In a wide-scale survey, W o n g Fillmore (1991) pointed out the inherent difficulties arising from first language loss. She claimed that while language loss has always occurred i n N o r t h America, it has never been so widespread, or prevalent, or swift, as at the present. According to W o n g Fillmore, few American-born children of immigrant parents are fully proficient i n the ethnic language, even if it was the only language they spoke w h e n they entered school,...even if it is the only one their parents know. (p. 324) W o n g Fillmore claims that first language loss is more serious than i n past generations; that is, she argues that language loss now occurs suddenly between two generations rather than more slowly across several generations. A s a result, some individuals are losing the means w i t h which to maintain relationships w i t h their parents, their families, and their cultures. G i v e n this acceleration and change i n circumstance, it seems reasonable that research on first language loss should include a narrower, and more personal, perspective than those w h i c h have dominated research to date. W i t h this i n mind, the main motivation for this multiple case study is the desire to understand minority first language loss from a descriptive, narrative, retrospective and personal point-ofview, a point-of-view heretofore overlooked i n language loss research. The purpose of this research is not to search for causal relationships, nor to assume that first language loss is the consequence, or primary cause, of a set of social conditions, but instead to try to understand the meaning of the experience from an insider perspective. This w i l l round out the picture already painted by linguistic analyses of the language loss process, and by statistical and ethnographic studies. The present study, (a) describes, from an emic perspective, the intersection between language, identity, culture, and marginalization i n some former minority-language speakers,  6 (b) offers a contextualized, personal, narrative understanding of first language loss during second language acquisition, (c) describes what it means to lose a language, especially i n terms of participation i n the social, educational, and economic systems of the community, (d) offers insight into individuals' perceptions of their communicative adaptation i n deficit situations, and (e) opens a w i n d o w on the lived experiences of people w h o have lost a first language, as well as on the familial, social and educational consequences of first language loss. This research study is a multiple life history case study. Between three and five interviews, each of two hours' duration, were conducted w i t h 21 adults who described themselves as having lost a childhood minority first language. Each case study was written i n the form of a life story, almost entirely i n the words of the narrator. Five representative stories were then chosen for inclusion i n this text, and individual analyses examining the interview context, the life history context, and the narrative context were written for each. Additionally, all 21 case studies have been reviewed i n an emergent theme analyses, and excerpts from the interview transcripts are cited to enhance our understanding of family relationships, school relationships, school performance, self image, and the meaning of first language loss. It is hoped that the understandings arising from this dissertation w i l l not only enable us individually to validate or change our o w n views of the role of minority languages i n public education, but also to critically examine social systems, policy, and educational practice, w i t h a view to: (a) assisting the best possible language development for minoritylanguage children,  7  (b) increasing the self-esteem and cultural identity of minoritylanguage students, (c) maintaining the integrity of minority-language families, (d) keeping minority-language students invested i n completing a n d / o r continuing their education, (e) engendering equality of educational opportunity, and (f) fostering multiculturalism. Finally, as a document, this dissertation is simultaneously standard and nonstandard. Chapters one through six are, respectively, the introduction, literature review, methodology, life story data and analyses, emergent theme analysis, and the conclusion. The major chapters, chapters 2 through 5 inclusive, are preceded b y executive summaries w h i c h briefly outline the argument i n each chapter. Woven throughout are vignettes and subchapters, creative commentaries o n each section of the dissertation. H a v i n g titles i n bold italics, these sections precede the chapters they are meant to comment on, therefore, On what pretext? is meant to be read as a commentary on the literature review w h i c h follows it. Some of the sections are borrowed from literature i n poetry and prose; others have been written especially for this document. Their inclusion is intended to address concerns w i t h polyphony, performance, and invitational texts.  4  This phrase is borrowed from Patti Lather (personal commiinication, July, 1994) and, in this instance, refers to academic texts which are written with the intent to delight as well as to inform. 4  8  On what pretext? " A l l good researchers must write a literature review". This is one of the basic tenets of social science and educational research. But just think for a moment— wouldn't it be grand if we could write a review of lit'rature (think of Michael Caine pronouncing this w o r d i n the film Educating Rita), if we could all accept that Carol Shields was w r i t i n g / r i g h t i n g acceptable practice when she wrote that w h e n we say a thing or an event is real, never m i n d how suspect it sounds, we honor it. But when a thing is made up—regardless of how true and just it seems—we turn up our noses. That's the age we live i n . The documentary age. A s if we can never, never get enough facts. (1993, p. 330) W e l l , I k n o w that I w o u l d then ask Garrison Keillor to speak of one of the parenting dilemmas for immigrant parents w h o don't speak English, the inability to express themselves fully i n a new language: America was the land where they were o l d and sick, N o r w a y where they were young and full of hopes—and much smarter, for y o u are never so smart again i n a language learned i n middle age nor so romantic or brave or kind. A l l the best of you is i n the o l d tongue, but w h e n y o u speak your best i n America you become a yokel, a dumb Norskie, and w h e n you speak English, an idiot. N o wonder the o l d timers loved the places where the mother tongue was spoken, the Evangelical Lutheran church, the Sons of Knute lodge, the tavern, where they could talk and cry and sing to their hearts' content. O Norway, land of my childish fancies, thy dark green forest is where my soul goes to seek comfort. O bird in the sky, tell me—do they remember me in the old home or ami a stranger wherever I roam? (Keillor, 1985, p. 79) A n d then I w o u l d print H i m a n i Bannerji's poignant description of a mother's guilt i n introducing what I can best describe as the "Ancient Mariner Syndrome" to their families: What d i d I do, she thought, I took her away from her o w n people and her o w n language, and now here she comes walking alone, through an alien street i n a country named Canada.  9 A s she contemplated the solitary, moving figure, her o w n solitude rushed over her like a tide. She had drifted away from a w o r l d that she had lived i n and understood, and now she stood here at the same distance from her home as from the homes w h i c h she glimpsed while walking past the sparkling clean w i n d o w s of the sandblasted houses. (Bannerji, 1990, p. 141) A n d I w o u l d allow Timothy Findley to speak about what it means to lose something intangible, something connected to one's history, one's identity, one's soul: Nothing I can think to say or write reflects m y sense of loss. I feel not only dispossessed but impotent. Incompetent. O n the one hand cheated of reasonable expectations, I also sense a failure i n me to do some duty. Though what that duty might be I cannot tell. Something I wanted to save has been destroyed behind my back. (Findley, 1986, p. 1) Then, after I had finished the review of language loss, I w o u l d allow Denise Chong to speak for me on the difficulty of writing life histories, m y methodology: Once m y research was done, the challenge was to press it flat onto the pages of a book. Taking on such a responsibility was daunting. There are as many different versions of events as there are members of a family. The truth becomes a landscape of many layers i n an everchanging light; the details depend on whose memories illuminate it. (1995, XEI) But, this is not the accepted norm—a literature review should detail the search for both research questions and a methodology—and so I lay before you a more standard text.  10 A pre/text for language loss research: Executive Summary This chapter begins by delineating the situations in which language loss may occur.  Excluding instances of neural degeneration or trauma and instances ofL2 loss, there is one language loss scenario (LI loss in an L2 environment) arisingfromtwo situations (immigration and colonization). This chapter then defines the various synonyms for language loss which have appeared in the literature, including language shift, attrition, erosion, regression, death, obsolescence, change, and subtractive bilingualism, or  semilingualism. Adopting language loss as the umbrella term, this chapter then turns to th empirical studies of first language loss. First, the literature on language shift is reviewed. Language shift refers to generational change in language use patterns, and is usually linguistically descriptive. Generally, when concerns are raised about language shift, researchers are interested in  assessing the potential for a minority language to survive. This body of literature has some limited application to the present research study, particularly that neither schooling nor  legislation alone can compensate for lack of minority-language contact, which contact must come from multiple diverse sources.  The chapter then moves on to research on families. This body of research is primari concerned with discovering the causes of first language loss. A number of familial  characteristics have been correlated with increased language loss, such as parental educati  family literacy, age, family size, types of schooling, attitudes, size and viability of a minority language community, and educational policy. The hallmark study, in terms of scope and implications, was spearheaded by Wong Fillmore (1991) and, in part, looks at the  consequences of first language loss for families. Research on families to date indicates that  first language loss may have serious consequences, but such studies are not, at the presen time, numerous.  11 The next section, reviewing the literature on individual first language loss, argues  that these longitudinal or cross-sectional studies are primarily concerned with describing th  linguistic process of language loss. However, studies of the advantages of bilingual educatio  also speak to first language loss if we assume that students who lost a first language were previously developing bilingually. One possible consequence of first language loss is semilingualism.  The final section reviewing empirical studies of language loss examines the role of th majority-language community. According to some studies, many teachers still promote monolingualism, thereby discouraging LI maintenance. This chapter then argues that two views of language have predominated in the  research to date. Some studies view language as a system, and attempt to describe langu  loss in terms of its linguistic properties. This research is limited by a) the aspects of langu  about which we are knowledgeable, b) the perceived norm against which language skills ar  measured, and c) discrepancies between competence and performance. On the other hand  these studies can help to identify the beginning stages of language loss and can begin to g us some idea of neural processing. Other studies have viewed language as a commodity, and have tried to predict who will lose a language, where, when and why. This research is limited by measurement problems and indeterminability of the causal reference. Moreover, the focus is on the universal and similar, perhaps missing the marginal and unique. On the other hand, these studies have value for making policy decisions, for identifying those at risk of losing first languages, and for language planning. This chapter concludes by summarizing two ethnographic studies of indigenous  language loss which have worked with more holistic views of language. Because ethnograp  is not a workable option for the present study, a life history case study approach has been adopted, largely based on Cruikshank's (1992) model. This focus allows for an emic  12 understanding offirstlanguage loss, one examining the consequences for individuals within a historical frame.  13 A PRE/TEXT FOR L A N G U A G E LOSS RESEARCH For the purposes of this research project, there are two ways of looking at the extant language loss literature. The first is explanatory, that is, it uses the findings from the existing literature, building hypotheses and theories to work within and against, accepting, within rigorously-applied notions of validity and reliability, the truthfulness of the knowledge claims. The second way of looking at the literature is to work i n a more critical fashion, seeking to understand how researchers have defined and operationalized language loss i n the past, and looking for methodological "gaps", limitations i n our knowledge about first language loss that develop not only from missing methodologies, but also from implicit assumptions about the nature of language and knowledge. In m y o w n understanding, these two ways of looking at the literature were evolutionary, changing over time w i t h m y exposure to feminism, post-modernism, critical theory, and other meta-narratives. Despite this evolution, the second perspective d i d not supplant the first; rather, both ways of viewing the language loss literature remain equally weighted, equally justified. Therefore, this review of the literature w i l l first summarize the existing knowledge about language loss, how language loss develops and how it affects peoples' lives, and then it w i l l go on to critically examine the methodologies which were used to develop that knowledge. Before doing so, however, it may be useful to delineate possible language loss scenarios and to develop some working definition of language loss and its synonyms. Definition of Terms According to V a n Els (1986), there are four situations i n w h i c h language loss may occur: 1) loss of an L I i n an L I environment (e.g., L I loss i n elderly people), 2) L I loss i n an L2 environment (e.g., loss of native languages by immigrants),  14 3) loss of an L2 i n an L I environment (e.g., foreign language loss), and 4) loss of an L2 i n an L2 environment (e.g., L2 loss b y elderly migrants), (cited i n De Bots, Gommans, & Rossing, 1991, p. 87) For the purposes of the study, it is necessary to exclude entirely those instances of loss w h i c h could be attributed to neural degeneration or to neural trauma (i.e., 1 & 4), to exclude instances of second language loss (i.e., 3) and to add L I loss i n indigenous communities, a k i n d of linguicide. We are then left w i t h one possible scenario (LI loss i n an L2 environment) arising from two situations (immigration and colonization). A number of terms are found i n the literature w h i c h are either synonymous w i t h language loss or related to it, including "language attrition", "language shift", "language change", "language death", "language obsolescence", and "subtractive bilingualism". In general, the following definitions apply: (1) Language loss occurs "when [a]... minority group member cannot do the things w i t h the minority language that he [sic] used to be able to do....Some of the proficiency he [sic] used to have is no longer accessible" (Fase, Jaspaert, & Kroon, 1992b, p. 8). This is the most general term and is therefore often used as the "umbrella" incorporating all of the others. (2) Language shift usually refers to "the change from the habitual use of one language to that of another" (Weinreich, 1952, cited i n de Vries, 1992, p. 213) either by a language community or an individual. (3) Language attrition, language erosion (Kravin, 1992; Smolicz, 1992; Taft & Cahill, 1989), or language regression (De Bot & Weltens, 1991) "may refer to the loss of any language or any portion of a language b y an individual or a speech community" whether  15 because of aphasia, aging, or for any social or political reason (Freed, 1983, p. 1). G i v e n this wide-ranging definition, any of these terms may be used to refer to the entire field of this type of inquiry; however, because these terms are also commonly used to refer to second language attrition, I prefer not to use them at all. (4) Subtractive bilingualism usually refers to semilingualism, the experience of language loss i n minority-language children w h o are schooled i n a majority language "which results i n reduced language mastery of both languages" (Carey, 1991, p. 950; Lambert, 1981). It may also refer only to the loss of the minority language (Landry & A l l a r d , 1991; 1992). (5) Language death refers almost exclusively to those languages spoken by indigenous minority-language communities which, w h e n they are no longer used as the language of schooling, bureaucracy or government, lose their "primary language" function (language obsolescence) and thus lose their viability (e.g., Dorian, 1982; Lanoue, 1991; Pye, 1992; Schmidt, 1991). (6) Language change (Anderson, 1982) refers to all of the above, but also includes language acquisition, language learning, and historical linguistic development. For the purposes of the present study, I have restricted myself to using the term "language loss". Furthermore, because most of these definitions are too general to be of m u c h use i n operationalizing language loss as a research construct, I have chosen to explore the meaning of first language loss as one aspect of this research project. Review of Empirical Studies This review w i l l now look at the research which has been conducted on minority-language communities, minority-language families and on minority-  16 language individuals, studying the causes and the process(es) of first language loss. A fourth section w i l l address the impact of the majority-language community on that language loss. Language Loss that isn't: Language Shift M u c h of the literature dealing w i t h first language loss is actually concerned w i t h communal language shift, that is, the gradual substitution of the source country language w i t h the target country language within a language community over an extended period of time (De Bots, Gommans & Rossing, 1991; Merino, 1983; Pan & Berko-Gleason, 1986). Over several generations, families and language communities become progressively more dominant i n the majority language, while each succeeding generation learns less and less of the minority language spoken by immigrant ancestors (e.g., Extra, 1989; Folmer, 1992; Hakuta & D'Andrea, 1992). Typically, the first generation of immigrants begins as monolingual i n the minority language, and may even remain so, provided that they choose to live i n a minoritylanguage enclave. The second generation develops bilingually, learning the ethnic language first if the parents use it, meaning that there is a stronger likelihood that children living i n enclave communities w i l l learn the minority language as a first language; however, language shift to the majority language begins w i t h the advent of schooling. The third generation usually learns English as the first language, w i t h or without some knowledge of the minority language, while the fourth generation is uniformly monolingual i n English (e.g., A p p e l & Muysken, 1987; Grosjean, 1982, cited i n Harres, 1989). So described, this attrition process does not take place within an individual, but between individuals, and therefore it seems smooth and painless, a seamless tapestry of changing colours. The research on language shift tends to be descriptive from a linguistic point of view, often documenting the changes i n morphosyntax over succeeding generations while neglecting to record the sociopolitical context created by the  17 interaction w i t h the majority-language culture (e.g., Dorian, 1982; see also Markey, 1987 for linguistic definition/analysis of language change, minority language, majority language). W h e n interaction w i t h the majority-language culture is considered i n this research, concerns are generally raised about the consequences of language shift, not for the individuals speaking the minority languages, but for the language itself; researchers are interested i n assessing the potential for each minority language to survive. Giles, Bourhis & Taylor (1977; see also Jamieson, 1980; Piitz, 1991; Wright, 1993/4), for example, measure the "ethnolinguistic vitality" of minority-language groups by examining a cultural group's status (economic, social, sociohistorical and language status), its demographic distribution (absolute numbers, community organization, intermarriage, geographical distribution) and its institutional support (media support, governmental or administrative service support, educational support). Language shift displays a greater tendency to occur when the cultures involved are more similar than w h e n they are less similar (Clyne, 1982, cited i n A p p e l & Muysken, 1987). Although the language shift research is interesting and informative, it is not addressed to an individual's loss of language, but to imperfect learning of a language by succeeding generations, as that language becomes less relevant to daily activities. Therefore, the research on language shift informs the present study only as it relates to individual first language loss, i n w h i c h an individual w h o initially spoke a minority language shifted to the dominant majority language and lost the ability to speak the minority language. A s W o n g Fillmore (1991) explains, the language shift process has both accelerated and become more prevalent during recent decades, to the point at w h i c h "few American-born children of immigrant parents are fully proficient i n the ethnic language, even if it was the only language they spoke w h e n they entered school,...even if it is the only one their parents know" (1991, p. 324). This change i n focus from the community to the individual is  18 accompanied b y an attendant change i n the understanding of consequence. While the consequences of language shift w h i c h dominate are often communal and linguistically-described, the consequences of first language loss w h i c h W o n g Fillmore re-orients us toward are personal and familial, psychological, emotional, and social. O n the other hand, the language shift research does offer some interesting points of departure for exploration i n the present research study. Landry and A l l a r d (1992), for example, focusing on Francophones i n Maine, report that many students do not refer to French as their mother tongue, despite having francophone parents (and, presumably, speaking French at home), and despite being "among the most protected linguistic minorities i n N o r t h America" (p. 224). Because Landry and A l l a r d focus on francophones being schooled bilingually rather than being submersed i n the dominant language (that is, the French language is both taught and used as the m e d i u m of instruction), they also conclude that schooling alone cannot compensate for the lack of minority-language contact i n the family or social milieu (nor can legislation). W o r k i n g w i t h indigenous Gaelic speakers i n Scotland, M a c K i n n o n (1990) found that people employed i n traditional professions tended to have the strongest Gaelic skills, as d i d Catholics whose church d i d not anglicize. M e n experienced less loss of Gaelic because, unlike women w h o found it necessary to seek employment elsewhere, they had not left their Gaelic-speaking homelands. Those w h o lived i n more isolated communities lost comparatively less of their first language (see also Stevens, 1982). Interestingly, and perhaps because self-assessment was used to measure language ability, M a c K i n n o n found that those w h o learned Gaelic as a second language rated themselves as more proficient i n Gaelic than those who considered themselves native speakers of the language. Such research on language shift points to the importance of a strong first-language speaking community (in  19 w h i c h the L I is used i n a variety of contexts) i n maintaining a first language, and also to the importance of heritage language schooling i n the development of language skills. These factors may influence individual first language development as well as survival of the minority-language linguistic community. MacKinnon's study also introduces the idea that importance and weight should be given to individuals' perception of loss rather than only to linguistic or other measurements of loss, giving added impetus to the present study to explore the meaning of language loss from an insider perspective. Minority-Language Families Studies of minority-language families have tended to explore the causes of language loss rather than its effects. Taft and Cahill (1989), for example, claim "...parents w h o are literate and w h o care about the quality of their children's language are more likely to have children who are competent speakers of the home language..." (p. 142). This implies that language loss w i l l occur i n poorly-literate homes i n w h i c h parents are less concerned about their children's language development and education.  Other researchers (e.g., Berotte Joseph, 1993; De Bot &  Clyne, 1989,1994; Hakuta & D'Andrea, 1992; Harres, 1989; Jamieson, 1980; Merino, 1983; Okamura-Bichard, 1985; W o n g Fillmore, 1991) have statistically correlated such things as parental education and parental L I literacy, elapsed time since immigration, language status, disglossia, literacy, age, family size, types of daycare or schooling, attitudes, and other related variables w i t h increased or decreased first language loss. Harres (1989), for example, argues that language loss is less likely w h e n an individual a) immigrated long ago rather than recently, 5 b) was a member of a church w i t h a parochial school, c) lived i n a linguistic enclave, d) used the language ^Presumably this is because of settlement patterns. Waas (1994) however, in interview data, found that after ten to twenty years in a second language environment, people were unable to complete an interview without using the L2.  20 i n a number of h i g h status and diverse functions, e) lived w i t h an extended family, and f) d i d not have children. Wright (1993/4) found that L I literacy and formal L I language study benefited developing bilingualism. Merino (1983) found that the familial language use patterns i n early childhood were predictive of language loss, that is, a child w h o used two languages w i t h the parents rather than following the "one person, one language" rule, experienced the most frequent and most severe language loss. Okamura-Bichard (1985), i n a study of Japanese L I children i n the U S , found that cultural orientation, familial linguistic and academic expectations, motivation, perception of majority culture attitudes, relaxation and enjoyment i n social and school life, and opportunities to use English and Japanese, were the most important factors i n determining the strength and breadth of first and second language skills. A i v a z i a n (1996) found a correlation between additive bilingualism and pressure w i t h i n the family to observe Filipino customs and to preserve the Filipino heritage, while first language loss was linked to minimal use of Filipino i n varied situations (see also L i , 1996, for the importance of the home environment). Hakuta and D'Andrea (1992) found a high correlation between first language (Spanish) proficiency and the age at w h i c h children began speaking English, while, similarly, W o n g Fillmore (1991) argued that assimilative forces such as language use patterns, classroom programs, and classroom practices w h i c h impelled children to learn English are particularly problematic for children under the age of five because they have not yet achieved stability i n their first languages. In a study of non-Navajo-speaking students attending boarding school and their native-Navajo-speaking parents, Parsons Yazzi (1996) explored the reasons for language loss from the indigenous perspective. Parents believed that language loss was influenced by English speaking friends, boarding away from home, prohibited a n d / or discouraged use of the L I i n school, and failure of the parents to use the L I w i t h their children. The parents felt that English had become dominant. This study  21 is noteworthy because it (a) points to the enormous role that education has played i n indigenous language loss, and (b) gives evidence that a form of residential schooling, long thought to have vanished, still exists. Research addressing familial language loss treats the loss of the first language as small-scale language shift. The potential for the minority language to survive i n 6  the family is measured i n terms of language vitality, including such factors as the existence and strength of community support, disglossia, education policy and educational practice. In these studies, more attention is paid to the language than to the individuals w h o speak the language, and more attention is paid to the causes of language loss than to its effects. One of the few researchers to consider the effects of first language loss, W o n g Fillmore (1991) illustrates how language contains more than just its linguistic elements. Language is a "powerful socializing medium" (Schiefflin & Ochs, 1986, p. 172) implicated i n identity, relationships, culture, and aspirations, and transmitting information about events, activities, affective domains, tone, mood, the organization of society, the current state of "knowledge", the means to question and evaluate that knowledge, and all other aspects of the social world. W h e n a first language is lost, then, W o n g Fillmore claims, What is lost is no less than the means by w h i c h parents socialize their children: w h e n parents are unable to talk to their children, they cannot easily convey to them their values, beliefs, understandings, or w i s d o m about h o w to cope w i t h their experiences. They cannot teach them about the meaning of work, or about personal responsibility, or what it means to be a moral or ethical person i n a w o r l d w i t h too many choices and too few guideposts to follow....Talk is a crucial link between parents and children: It is how parents impart their cultures to their children and enable them to become the kind of men and w o m e n they want them to be. When parents lose the means for socializing and influencing their children, rifts develop and families lose the intimacy that comes from shared beliefs and understandings. (1991, p. 343)  6  In other words, the family is viewed as a language community.  22 W h e n this argument is analyzed i n light of the statistical reports from 1001 families compiled by W o n g Fillmore (1991) and her associated researchers, the scope of minority-language loss and its potential to negatively affect a nation's social fabric are compelling. Analysing results from a nation-wide survey of language minority families whose children had participated i n (partly or wholly) English language preschool, W o n g Fillmore reported that a majority of families noticed a change i n their children's language usage from the L I to English immediately after the children began English-only preschool. She concluded that the education system may be a serious contributor to first language loss, and that L I loss could lead to inability on the part of the parents to socialize their children, to family disunity, to family violence, and to academic and social failure for the children. It was one story from W o n g Fillmore's article w h i c h provided the narrative "hook" for this research project and which haunted me i n my search for a methodology comprehensive enough to explore not only the causes but also the consequences of minority first language loss: One of them [interviewers] told the story of a family that had been referred to county social services after the father was accused of abusing his children. Someone at school had noticed bruises on the children. W h e n the children were questioned, they admitted that their father had beaten them w i t h a stick. The children were taken into protective custody, and the father was brought i n for questioning. The story that unfolded was tragic. The family is Korean, and its language is one that requires the marking of many levels of deference i n ordinary speech. One cannot speak Korean without considering one's o w n social position and age relative to the position and age of one's addressee because a host of lexical and grammatical choices depend on such matters. It seems that the children i n this family had stopped speaking Korean, although the parents spoke little else....Then one day the children's grandfather came from Korea for a stay w i t h the family. Because Grandfather d i d not speak English, the father ordered the children to speak to h i m i n Korean. They tried. They used the Korean they could remember, but it was rusty....They used none of the forms that children must use when speaking to an honored relative like their grandfather. The grandfather was shocked at the apparent disrespect the children were displaying towards him. H e d i d what the situation  23 called for: H e scolded his son—the children's father—for not having trained his children properly. The father d i d what the situation required of him: H e punished the children—with a stick— for their rudeness and disrespect, (p. 344) This story puts the human condition into research on first language loss and makes it somehow more "real". This story enables us to sense the frustration and pain that language conflict has produced i n this family—and it demonstrates how a bad situation can be created by numerous people all trying to do what is good and right. More recently M c K a y and Weinstein-Shr (1993) have addressed the consequences of language loss for individuals and families. Although most of their article draws on W o n g Fillmore's research, M c K a y and Weinstein-Shr also include several other narratives w h i c h illustrate, poignantly, the social effects. They report that one man d i d not learn of his son's expulsion from school until six months after the fact because his son was able to intercept all school communications. M c K a y and Weinstein-Shr point out that parents cannot tell of their lives i n their source countries, of the daily rituals, the survival strategies, the things they left behind, without using the language of that culture, which their children do not speak. They go on to assert that while most ESL programs for adults are directed toward the improvement of material circumstances, the parents' agendas may be more pressing; these may be: supporting children i n their social and moral development as human beings; helping grandchildren know the story of their past; creating circumstances i n w h i c h their children can succeed without rejecting w h o they are and where they have come from; [and] ensuring that their children stay connected enough to take care of them when they grow old. (p. 415) Research such as this makes it clear that the consequences of first language loss may be profound and far-reaching, but, at the present time, they are under-studied.  24 Individual Language Loss Research w h i c h is concerned w i t h individual language loss (as opposed to loss of language i n a tightly knit community of speakers) is generally linguistic i n nature, and is concerned w i t h describing the language loss process. This body of research tends to try to answer two questions: "what gets lost first?" (De Bots, Kees, & Weltens, 1991; Merino, 1983; Pan & Berko-Gleason, 1986, p. 204) and "is there a level of attainment which, once reached, w i l l protect against language loss?" (Pan & Berko-Gleason, 1986, p. 204). In answer to the first question, some studies speculate about linguistic elements, whether that w h i c h was learned last (e.g., Maher, 1991; Pan & Berko-Gleason, 1986) or that w h i c h was k n o w n best (e.g., Pan & BerkoGleason, 1986) was lost first (see also Weltens & Cohen, 1989, L2 research), while other studies focus on whether metalinguistic, phonetic, affective or linguistic elements were more subject to attrition (e.g., De Bots, et al. 1991; Major, 1992). Again, these studies pay more attention to the effects on the languages being lost than to the effects on the individuals who speak the languages. Several longitudinal case studies of child language attrition (Kaufman & Aronoff, 1991; K r a v i n , 1992; Turian & Altenberg, 1991) point to the speed w i t h which minority-language loss begins to occur. In every case, attrition began almost immediately after a change i n language conditions, that is, w h e n most of the input received by a child changed from one language to another.' G i v e n that, during 7  these studies, the researchers were aware of the potential for loss (or rather, for incomplete acquisition) and actively worked to prevent it, it seems clear that the best efforts at home may not be enough, and that the majority-language community must also actively support minority-language development.  ^Interestingly, De Bot and Clyne (1994), in a longitudinal follow up study of Dutch migrants in Australia, found that people who maintain their language for the first years after immigration are more likely to retain first language fluency.  25  In a cross-sectional study of Spanish-speaking children being schooled i n English, Merino (1983) concluded that loss of productive minority-language skill is much greater than that of comprehension skill, a conclusion supported i n her longitudinal study of a reduced sample of the same children. In her longitudinal study, she found that the children's productive skills deteriorated significantly over a two year period, that specific linguistic functions such as the use of the subjunctive and the past tense were actually lost, while others, such as the conditional, merely failed to develop further. Merino points out that these language features are also those most susceptible to loss among second language learners; her results support neither the position that what gets learned last gets lost first, nor that what is k n o w n least gets lost first. O n the other hand, Olshtain and Barzilay (1991) found infrequently-used nouns to be most susceptible to attrition, supporting the position that what is k n o w n least is lost first. In their study, subjects were able to circumlocute and to identify words w i t h similar semantic features, pointing to retrieval difficulty i n production (speech) w h i c h does not necessarily affect comprehension (understanding). These studies are of particular interest because together they suggest that exposure to the minority language alone may not lead to acquisition of a language (i.e. Krashen's [1980 and following, cited i n Scarcella, 1990] notion of "comprehensible input"), that production is also necessary for language development (i.e. Swain's [1986] notion of "comprehensible output"). It also reiterates that, for a given first language to remain vital, not only must a language minority community be i n existence, but there must also be what A m m o n (1994) has called a "multiplex social network", a large number of institutional uses for the first language. In possible opposition to Merino's and Olshtain and Barzilay's research, Verhoeven and Beschoten (1986) found that Turkish children aged four to eight w h o had immigrated to the Netherlands were better able to express themselves i n  26 spontaneous L I speech than their non-immigrant Turkish controls, even though they d i d display m u c h poorer language skills according to controlled speech tests. A s Merino's study relied on measures of controlled speech, the results may be viewed as somewhat compromised. What does seem to remain evident, however, is that loss is something w h i c h is neither invariant nor absolute. In studies of adults (Jaspaert & Kroon, 1992; Kenny, 1993; Major, 1992; Segalowitz, 1991) several researchers "found" language loss according to the procedural definitions they employed, that is, i n letter writing, visual w o r d recognition, hesitation frequency, and length of aspiration i n speech respectively. These studies are less informative for the present research project because they are very limited i n the scope of their definitions, and also because they operate solely with their o w n internal logic. First they define language loss as loss of one specific feature (e.g., increased number and duration of hesitations i n L I speech indicates loss of L I ) , then they find evidence of loss of that feature (e.g., speakers w h o have lived i n an L2 environment show increased number and duration of hesitations compared to speakers w h o have not lived i n an L2 environment), from w h i c h they conclude that language loss is occurring (e.g., increased hesitation frequency is evident and therefore language loss is also evident). In addition to employing circular logic, these studies conflate performance w i t h competence. A separate class of studies w h i c h could be seen to have an impact on first language loss research are those w h i c h look at bilingual education. In an extensive review of the literature, Collier (1989) concludes that "...children w h o reach full cognitive development i n two languages enjoy cognitive advantages over monolinguals" (p. 517; see also Harley, Hart & Lapkin, 1986). In other words, these studies explore, not the consequences of first language loss, but the advantages enjoyed by bilingual children. Loss of the cognitive advantage of bilingualism could be seen as a consequence of first language loss for language minority children if we  27 were to accept Toohey's (1992) argument that we need to regard language minority students i n terms of their potential as developing bilinguals, rather than i n terms of their deficiencies as "Limited English Proficient". Her argument gives added force to Extra's (1989) comment that "more attention is paid to the effects of bilingualism on children's cognitive, social or emotional development than to the effects of monolingualism on such development" (p. 59-60). One consequence of developing monolingualism and first language loss is what has come to be k n o w n by the loaded term "semilingualism" (see Martin-Jones & Romaine, 1986, p. 26 for European and Canadian references), a form of "subtractive bilingualism" (Lambert, 1975) w h i c h has been described as an "...inadequate command of both first (LI) and second (L2) languages..." (Cummins, 1979, p. 222). Those researchers w h o support(ed) the construct argue(d) that semilingualism "...can be devastating because it usually places youngsters i n a psycholinguistic limbo where neither language is useful as a tool of thought and expression" (Lambert, 1981, p. 12). It is, however, Martin-Jones and Romaine (1986) point out, a potentially pejorative term w h i c h "appears to be defined w i t h reference to some idealized and rather narrow notion of 'full' competence i n one language or other" (p. 28). They argue that it is impossible to empirically (linguistically) measure semilingualism, and that "the ways i n w h i c h children i n multilingual settings...learn to draw on the codes i n their repertoires have to be understood w i t h reference to community norms of language use and local youth culture, and not w i t h reference to some idealized notion of adult balanced bilingualism" (p. 34). Indeed, i n such cryptic statements on the causes and effects of semilingualism as "We take kids off the boat; we make them take English; we make them take French; we won't teach them their o w n language and we produce illiterates i n three languages" (Green, 1977, p. 30), there is little description of semilingualism as a state of language development, a communicative state, or a state of being. Such criticisms of the term  28 as that of Martin-Jones and Romaine do not, however, i n any way change the fact that first language loss occurs, and that there is considerable variation i n the language and literacy skills that different children w i l l acquire i n both monolingual and bilingual situations. The Majority-language Culture Research o n the impact of the majority-language community o n minoritylanguage loss also looks more to the causes of loss—particularly i n the classrooms of the nation—than to its effects. Ironically, and despite all evidence to the contrary, it appears that many, if not most, teachers continue to believe that maintaining the L I at home or at school while learning the L 2 can hamper cognitive development (McGroarty, 1992, p. 380). Others simply believe that English should be used exclusively at home and at school i n order to give students as m u c h exposure to the dominant language as possible, possibly thinking that time o n task increases English proficiency (Dolson, 1985, p. 143: Johnson, 1987, p. 444).8 Although teachers w h o belong to the minority-language community are, i n general, more supportive of mother tongue development (Johnson, 1987), they have themselves been successful i n the type of programs that they represent, and have therefore been "socialized into accepting those values w h i c h are connected w i t h that part of the majority society which controls the schools" (Skutnabb-Kangas, 1984, p. 305). C u m m i n s (1989) has speculated that the reason for this widespread belief may have been the often-poor academic performance of language minority children, which performance led educators i n the past to assume that bilingualism caused cognitive confusion. Cummins counters that assumption, noting that many language minority students were punished physically a n d / o r ridiculed for using their first languages. H e argues that educators rightly established the correlation, but wrongly assumed that bilingualism was the cause and poor academic  8  Such beliefs are behind programs like the Head Start program in the United States.  29 performance the result, w h e n a third factor, punishment for use of the first language, led both to academic/emotional difficulty and first language abandonment. In summary, the existing language loss literature gives a fairly comprehensive picture of the causes of first language loss, some of them demographic, some economic, some political, some familial, and some personal. In the next section of this review, I w i l l work i n a more critical manner, questioning the findings of these studies i n light of their methodologies, and then, i n this regard, I w i l l summarize the considerations of the present study. Questioning Findings and Methodologies de Vries (1992) argued that two views of language predominate i n the research o n first language loss and second language acquisition; each view of language determines a particular orientation to the operationalization of language loss i n research. According to de Vries, when language is viewed i n the first way, as a symbolic system for the purpose of communication, then researchers define language i n terms of properties such as phonology, morphology, and syntax. Researchers begin w i t h a (hypothetical) "norm" and measure loss as deviations from that norm. W h e n language is viewed i n the second way, as a social characteristic, resource or cultural commodity, then language loss is measured i n terms of the language's vitality and potential for survival—the numbers and age of its speakers, its political status, its use i n a variety of situations. Indeed, we have seen that these two approaches to language predominate i n the language loss literature. Understandably, these two different views lead to specific research approaches and specific answers to the second question, what is loss?. W h e n researchers view language as a system, they are interested i n what Lambert (1982b) has referred to as "criterion variables", linguistic criteria w h i c h are seen to identify the loss of specific language skills. W h e n researchers view language as a commodity or social characteristic, they look for what Lambert (1982b) has called "predictor  30 variables", those factors capable of anticipating situations i n w h i c h language loss may occur. Limits of The Criterion Variable Approach Most of the research dealing w i t h the systematic loss of specific language skills, the search for "criterion variables" which determine whether or not a language is being/has been lost, has been done i n case study form, describing the changes i n linguistic ability phonologically, morphologically, syntactically, and so on, as an individual "moves from a state of monolingualism i n L I to bilingualism to monolingualism i n L2, or from bilingualism to monolingualism i n one of the two languages" (Pan & Berko-Gleason, 1986, p. 196). This may be done i n (at least) two ways. Some researchers have employed the case study and have looked at individual children or adults, tracking their language evolution or devolution over time. The advantage to this approach is precision and the ability to compare each individual w i t h his or her self. The disadvantage is the limited scope of the research and findings because of the timeconsuming, labour-intensive nature of transcribing and analysing hundreds of hours of audio tape recorded over regular intervals for a period of months or years. Other researchers have worked w i t h cross-sectional data, assuming that "the older children are comparable counterparts of the younger ones" (Merino, 1983, p. 284). The advantage to this k i n d of work is that it is comprehensive, less subject to mortality (because researchers can collect data i n a short period of time), and more amenable to comparative, collaborative analyses. The disadvantage is the possible contamination of data from historical effects (history affects both the participants and the "normal" state of the L I ) or from temporary aberrations i n production or comprehension skills, and the resulting more imprecise nature of the measurements, leading to more imprecise findings.  31 Additionally, there are (at least) three major drawbacks i n the existing literature on language loss w h i c h attempts to describe linguistically the process of language loss. First, most researchers (though not all, e.g., Merino, 1983) ignore the developing second language; they therefore cannot account for the interaction between the two languages or for interlingual difficulties. Second, linguistic definitions need to work w i t h an operational norm against w h i c h language attrition is measured, and researchers most often choose the monolingual adult native speaker, w h i c h norm is not necessarily an appropriate yardstick for measuring potentially bilingual children's linguistic abilities. Third, De Bots and Weltens (1991) have argued that "research must be done on items about w h i c h we are knowledgeable....therefore, only some linguistic items, those that meet the criteria, can be used" (p. 52), meaning that researchers are limited i n the criterion variables which can be found. Perhaps more limiting is the narrow definition of language and therefore of language loss w h i c h is implied i n such research. Language loss i n these studies is defined as grammatical deterioration (e.g., Jaspaert & Kroon, 1992; Merino, 1983; Turian & Altenberg, 1991), frustration a n d / o r loss of ease w i t h the language, (e.g., Kravin, 1992), code-switching or linguistic interference from the L 2 (e.g., Kaufman & Aronoff, 1991; K r a v i n , 1992), retrieval difficulty, particularly of vocabulary (Kenny, 1993; Olshtain & Barzilay, 1991; Segalowitz, 1991), or phonological change (Major, 1992). Therefore, while these studies give a profoundly interesting account of the process of language loss linguistically, they do not document the human factor. They do not take into account the understandings and opinions of the people w h o speak the language under study. Is language not a purveyor of culture? a representation of the real? a vehicle for communication and information? a means for exerting power and control? a means for resisting power and control? a constitution of a social reality? a homeland? something invoked to break silence? a  32 marker of identity and culture? a playful and evocative allegorical force? a linguistic system? A r e dialects not languages? Creoles? Pidgins? Patois? Ideolects? Slangs? Interlanguages? A r e languages not all of the above? Moreover, these studies do not take into account that loss according to one feature does not imply loss according to another, that is, loss of (or failure to acquire) grammatically correct forms, does not mean the loss of communicative ability; loss of production does not mean loss of comprehension; loss of the linguistic norms does not mean loss of the social functions of a language; loss of affective markers and honorifics does not mean loss of the ability to function on a day-to-day basis; loss of difficult vocabulary does not mean loss of all markers of identity; all of which cause us to consider and reconsider what language loss means. In summary, this approach is limited because much of the linguistic research on language loss depends on (a) the operational definition of language loss, or the aspects of language under investigation, (b) what was considered to be the "norm" against w h i c h language skills are measured, and (c) what was taken to be the acceptable cutoff point after which instances of non-standard forms were deemed to represent loss rather than error. O n the other hand, the linguistic study of language loss is significant because (a) it can help educators and others identify the beginning stages of language loss and then work to prevent it, and (b) it can begin to give us some insight into what is happening "inside the black box" during language loss (and language acquisition). Limits of The Predictor Variable A p p r o a c h Most of the research w h i c h views language as a commodity, looking for variables w h i c h w i l l predict w h o w i l l lose a language, where, when, and w h y , is either descriptive of the context, of the community, or of the individuals (or all three). This k i n d of description is then sometimes compared to results from proficiency tests, trying to establish correlations between variables and test scores  33 (e.g., Hakuta & D'Andrea, 1992; Landry & A l l a r d , 1991; Okamura-Bichard, 1985). Other times this k i n d of description is compared to self-evaluation of language knowledge (e.g., M a c K i n n o n , 1990). In yet other studies, both tests and selfevaluations are used (e.g., De Bot & Clyne, 1989). This research does not, however, attempt to measure loss so much as to look for the causes of that loss. The advantage of using test scores to determine whether and how much of a language has been lost is precision. The disadvantage is that the tests are limited i n scope, testing, for example, productive vocabulary, or grammatical knowledge, or the ability to complete a cloze exercise. Tests cannot measure the perceptions of the speakers nor the affective domain, and, although they are precise, they are not as precise as minute linguistic analysis (as above). The disadvantage to using self-rated proficiencies is that, as Hakuta and D'Andrea (1992) point out, individuals may conflate their actual proficiency w i t h language attitude. A good example of this is found i n studies of the Dyirbal and Boumaa Fijian language communities, i n w h i c h people characterize themselves as speakers of the language if they possess a few words and expressions and some phonological markers (Schmidt, 1991). A n ideal situation w o u l d most likely be one i n w h i c h tests and self-ratings were used, along with, perhaps, an interview w h i c h gave a subjective reading of language ease and communicative competence, especially given that Verhoeven and Beschoten (1986) found that bilingual immigrant children had lower L I test scores but were better able to express themselves spontaneously i n their L I than their monolingual nonimmigrant peers. Finally, another type of research is based on statistical analysis of census data i n w h i c h reported first and second language use patterns are taken to represent loss or maintenance of minority languages, which results are correlated w i t h other demographic factors (e.g., Stevens, 1982). This can give an overall picture of the process of language shift and can help to identify predictor variables. W h e n  34  comparisons are then done between different language groups, some idea of the "weight" or importance of different predictor variables can emerge and can inform policy. For instance, if minority-language schooling was found to be important for first language retention, then this may justify such expenditures for the language community. One problem w i t h all of the research w h i c h looks for predictor variables is that it is cross-sectional rather than longitudinal. For this reason, individuals falling within a particular grouping of variables (such as language, time of arrival, age, for example) are seen to be representative. W h e n changes i n the variables are correlated w i t h changes i n language proficiency, these changes are seen to represent the process. Inevitably, therefore, this type of research is limited by two conditions: it is informative only within (a) the assumption that language loss is an invariant process occurring at roughly the same speed across individuals, and (b) the assumption that the language loss process is similar i n all individuals regardless of first languages spoken. Moreover, adopting a more subjective definition of language does not mean that the measurement problems w i l l disappear. First, there w i l l always be the question of whether or not the "right" variables are being measured. Have any been missed? Second, correlations can suggest individual causes, but they do not suggest causal strings. Has a chain of causes been overlooked? Third, the variables themselves are subject to interpretation and need to be standardized for the purposes of comparison. Have they been defined i n a correct and consistent manner? Finally, the focus is on the universal and similar aspects of language loss, necessarily missing the marginal, the deviant, and the changing. H o w can we then build theory if theory must account not only for similar cases but for deviant ones as well?  35  O n the other hand, research w h i c h looks for predictor variables is of great value for determining policy, for making informed decisions about educational and social practice, for identifying people at risk of losing their first languages, and then for planning intervention. It can appeal to a wide audience. It can point not only toward causes, but also toward effects. In short, this research paints a vital and essential part of the language loss picture. Taken as a whole, studies to date have correlated a number of variables (such as length of residence, age on arrival, gender, attitude toward the L I , birth order, social class, ethnolinguistic vitality, status) w i t h increased or decreased language loss. They have also established a fairly accurate accounting of the linguistic process of language loss. These studies, however, have not adequately considered the social context, nor have they looked at the effects of language loss, nor have they questioned the effects of becoming monolingual i n a bilingual environment. Some few studies have looked at the effects of language loss, but these studies have (a) focused o n early childhood, and (b) approached the question from the parents' point-of-view rather than the point of view of the directly-affected individual. These are methodological gaps. Considerations of the Present Study In addition to trying to address these gaps, I wanted to work within a framework w h i c h viewed language as a constantly-metamorphosing intersection between linguistic elements, identity, culture, history, reality, information and communication. I wanted to acknowledge the interdependence of language, identity, the construction of reality, and the individual, and, because language is a social phenomenon, I d i d not want to be bound to spoken forms of discourse nor to only the first or second language. I wanted to find a methodology that could simultaneously help to define language loss, look at its causes, and track its effects. I wanted to work within a framework w h i c h acknowledged that language speakers  36  make choices, and that immigrants often arrive w i t h a strong desire to integrate. One model was offered by two anthropological researchers w o r k i n g w i t h indigenous populations i n northern British Columbia, Canada. Ethnographic Studies of Language Loss Pye (1992) and Lanoue (1991), engaged i n ethnographic fieldwork i n the Chilcotin and Sekani populations respectively. Pye's research includes anecdotal evidence, historical and political analyses, ethnographic study, formal and informal interviews, and it thereby established grounded theory to b u i l d understanding of language loss specific to the Chilcotin community. After first establishing that all language loss is simultaneously language acquisition, Pye claims that it is necessary to study the context w h e n children are exposed to two languages but learn only one i n order to gain critical understanding about what are the necessary and sufficient conditions for language learning. Pye begins by putting the present-day language situation into a historical and geographical context (e.g., the Chilcotin language never had a standard form). H e then tries to analyse linguistic behaviours from an emic perspective. Pye reports that Chilcotin parents feel that their o w n children are native English speakers w h o need to be taught Chilcotin. Citing several situations, Pye also concludes that English may be filling functional gaps i n the Chilcotin language (e.g., there is no Chilcotin equivalent of baby talk). Perhaps most interesting are Pye's observations that w h e n Chilcotin children learn English they do not learn a standard dialect of English. Instead, they retain a number of phonological and syntactical features from Chilcotin. A s k i n g "why...would the Chilcotin switch to a language that is no more acceptable to the dominant culture than Chilcotin?" (p. 84), Pye raises a number of issues w h i c h may inform the present study. A s some second language learners end up w i t h "inadequate command of both first (LI) and second (L2) languages" (Cummins,  37 1979, p. 222), Pye's question raises the issues of language learner or language community choice, and of self-imposed, deliberate marginalization i n developing semilingualism. Pye argues, i n conclusion, that language attrition cannot be successfully understood using standard socio-linguistic methods because they fail to demonstrate the connections between language use i n the home and i n the community. What becomes apparent i n his research is the importance of language i n private domains that w o u l d not be accessed either by linguistic or by crosssectional sampling. Lanoue (1991), began his research w i t h questions: W h y d i d the Sekani of northern British Columbia speak English at all times when they had been without contact w i t h English for so long? W h y d i d they speak English now, more than twenty years after the closing of the residential school, when there was no television, radio or telephone, and when the elementary school had just been built? Through ethnographic study, Lanoue became aware that pan-Indianism has played a role, that English aids pan-Indianism both because it is a common language and because it allows the expression of thought and ideas that w o u l d be unacceptable i n the Sekani (or other traditional) language. Contrary to the prevailing notion then that English use indicates lack of loyalty to the Sekani language and culture, he argues that the Sekani are, to coin a phrase, using the tools of the colonizer to dismantle the colonizer's house. Lanoue also stresses that English functions i n situations that the traditional Sekani language is ill-equipped to handle. Most of his observations are based on insider knowledge of the Sekani culture; he notes, for example, that the use of English has changed the kinship patterns and patterns of responsibility i n the community. This raises interesting questions for this research project vis-a-vis changes i n familial structure during linguistic conflict and shift.  38 Although these studies model the kind of research necessary for this project, ethnographic field study was not a possibility. First, the present research study was directed mainly toward immigrant populations w h o were not necessarily isolated i n linguistic enclaves. Secondly, even were such linguistic communities available, focusing o n a variety of languages w o u l d have necessitated m y becoming an "insider" i n a large number of communities. Third, one of the major contributions that I wanted to make was to present invitational research, that is, stories w h i c h w o u l d invite readers to vicariously experience first language loss as an emotional issue—as I had after reading W o n g Fillmore's (1991) research. Fourth, given my personal belief that first language loss was a negative occurrence, I was ethically unprepared to track loss without intervention. One method of approaching ethnography i n language loss has been to examine the language maintenance strategies of immigrant families; however, studies of language maintenance speak to language loss only if it can be assumed that if one factor or strategy is successful and leads to language maintenance, then its opposite must be unsuccessful and lead to language loss. This was not an assumption that I was prepared to endorse. Life History A model for the present research project was found i n Cruikshank's (1990) book chronicling the life histories of three women, Y u k o n native elders. According to Cruikshank, life history is the "collaborative product of an encounter between two people, often from different cultural backgrounds, and incorporates the consciousness of an investigator as well as that of a subject" (p. x). Life history "tak[es] seriously what people say about their lives rather than treating their words simply as an illustration of some other process" (ibid., p. 1). Like Cruikshank, I chose to work through interviews, and, like Cruikshank, although I always brought  39 questions to the interviews, I rejected using a standardized interview schedule, and instead took direction from the narrators. A standardized interview schedule was rejected because its use w o u l d establish the scope and focus of the project i n an a priori fashion. For example, if I asked " H o w o l d were y o u w h e n you immigrated to Canada?", a link between that experience and eventual language loss w o u l d be established. In the extant language loss literature, a number of things seemed to be correlated w i t h language loss— parental education, familial literacy, home language maintenance, age of initial English language use, participation i n community activities, vitality of L I community—but b y including questions about these items, coincidental relationships may have become codified. Instead, I wanted the subjects to delineate the salient variables from their o w n perspectives. Moreover, many of the factors that seemed to be related to language loss were life history variables, that is, life events and conditions over w h i c h people had little or no control, a problem limiting the effectiveness of research. This, coupled w i t h the realization that a standardized interview schedule w o u l d be extremely hard to prepare and interpret i n light of the necessarily varied cultural backgrounds of the interviewees, led me to question the practicality of this method of data collection. In fact, as m u c h as I admired W o n g Fillmore's (1991) article w h i c h was based on over 1100 interviews, I had myself questioned her results because quotations cited from the interview data suggested such misinterpretation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I realized that I was beginning this research project w i t h the assumption that first language loss was a bad thing. The more involved I became i n re/searching the literature, the more I became aware that the answer to the most fundamental question "Is first language loss a negative experience?" had never been established.  40 Through careful study of the theory and practice of life history methodology, particularly i n sociology and anthropology where it is most prominent, I came to a better understanding of the potential of this form of research for m y subject of inquiry. I came to view life history as a particular type of case study (see Stake, 1995; Y i n , 1994). Where life history as I understood it seemed to differ from case study is i n the definition of what constitutes a context, the uses made of multiple sources of "evidence", and i n the privileging of individuals' understandings of a phenomenon over the phenomenon itself. While the case study might be concerned w i t h documenting the immediate physical and emotional context, and may do so over time, life history research focuses on individuals' understanding and recollection of events that have had a substantial impact on their development (the 'lived experiences', i n V a n Manen's [1992] terms). It is not the events themselves that are of greatest importance, but the subjects' understandings of the events, and their later impact on, or resolution in, the subjects' lives. A s I have argued elsewhere (Kouritzin, 1995), life history therefore allows the researcher to (a) shift perspective from the extraordinary to the mundane and the collective to the marginal, (b) to describe within a historical frame, (c) to work w i t h and write invitational texts, (d) to focus on listening, thereby loosening control over the research context, (e) to be reflexive, and (f) to retain a holistic concept of the self and the research subjects. In the next chapter, I w i l l now describe more fully the research imperative guiding the choice of life history case studies, and the research/analysis processes.  41  A Musical  Interlude  .. W h e n I was i n grade eight, I began to play the French H o r n i n the school band, and soon became good enough to play i n the N e w Caledonia Symphony Orchestra. H a v i n g chosen to play the French H o r n because, aside from some vague notion that it was related to Christmas, I didn't know what a French H o r n was or what it looked like, I was not put off by the band leader's warning that it was the most difficult instrument to play. It is possible to play every note on the scale without touching the keys, merely by adjusting your hand i n the bell. Therefore, a French H o r n player must have perfect pitch, and must be able to hear each note, concentrate, and aim for it, before releasing air into the mouthpiece. A French H o r n player must be able to hear what isn't there, and then blend herself into the rest of the band. But, what is truly unique about the French H o r n is its magic. W h e n two French Horns are perfectly i n tune, and when they play two notes of a chord, you can hear a third horn sounding triumphantly between them. A n d , between each horn and imaginary horn is the echo of yet another horn, resonating and ethereal. To hear these horns is awe-inspiring; to be a part of it, soul-shattering. W h o can be playing these horns but a multitude of angels? A s I see it, an interview is like hearing the third horn. In fact, the very w o r d interview implies that it is between two, a negotiated glimpse of the beyond that comes w h e n two people are able, for a moment, to hold themselves i n perfect tune. But, you cannot effortlessly hear the third horn; you have to listen carefully, adjust your breathing, strive to be one w i t h the other horn player, taste her spit. Y o u have 9  to try to let go of your ego, to give up your o w n pace.  Actually, my choice of possessive pronouns is political; I never had the opportunity to practice with another female French horn player. Choosing instruments in high school was a gendered experience. In general, girls chose small woodwinds like the flute or clarinet, while boys chose brass instruments, the drums, or large woodwinds. y  42  Recording the Third Horn: Executive Summary This chapter begins by setting out the three explanatory questions which guided this research project: (a) What does it mean, in individual terms, to have lost a language? (b) How do people who have lost their languages describe their linguistic and cultural identities? (c) What (if anything) have been the consequences of first language loss? These questions necessitate a life history case study approach. The subjects in this research study were found and recruited as a result of a letter to the editor of Column One in The Vancouver Sun. A call for volunteers resulted in over 120 responses, primarily from women, representing wide-ranging diversity. Subjects were contacted in chronological order, and interviewed for between six and ten hours, until a total of21life histories had been completed. Initial interviews were open and unstructured, though subsequent interviews were question-directed; however, this process was confounded by subjects' views of what constituted a proper interview. Each interview was transcribed verbatim immediately, and each subject generated between 80 and 100 pages of transcript. The transcripts were edited together, maintaining the chronology of the first interview, in order to produce the life stories. Five stories were chosen to be included in this thesis, two from males, three from females, two from Asian languages, two from European languages, and one from an indigenous language, two from oral cultures, and threefromnon-oral cultures. Selection was also guided by attending to whether subjects were first, second, or third generation, whether they were public figures, whether their parents had actively supported bilingualism, and whether there were other confounding factors. A variety of LI and L2 skill levels are represented.  43 After five stories were selected, a descriptive introduction was written for each one, detailing the basic conditions of our meetings, my impressions and understandings of each individual, the general background necessary to understand the stories, and some comments on each subject's use of language and narrative. These are found in the introduction to each life story under the headings "The interview context", "The life history context" and "The narrative context". Finally, all transcripts were analysed looking for emergent themes and related experiences. Themes were categorized under the umbrellas of "self", "family", "minoritylanguage community", and "majority-language community", and finally resulted in the emergent categories found in Chapter Five.  44 RECORDING THE THIRD H O R N This chapter w i l l explain how I came to write this research project i n the form that it now assumes, keeping m y o w n role i n this project apparent because "recording a life history is...a social activity" (Cruikshank, 1990, p. x). This chapter is intended to remind readers that these stories were not spontaneous, that I, the researcher, have had a major role to play—in determining the kinds of stories to be told, i n the story-telling, and i n the story writing. A s Schneider (1992) points out, the writing of life histories ...is m u c h like translating from one language to another; there are better translations, but none is perfect. Recorders/compilers of oral biography, like translators, are influenced by their o w n experiences w i t h the language, the narrator, and the events described. A n d , each translates for particular audiences, making assumptions about their backgrounds and needs, (p. 73) Life History Case Study Raison d'etre In addition to multiple, more-tightly-focused questions, m y search of the language loss literature resulted in/uncovered three explanatory questions w h i c h guided the present study. These questions were ones of "how", "why" and "what", namely: (a) What does it mean, i n individual terms, to have "lost" a language? (b) H o w do language minority students w h o have "lost" their language describe their linguistic and cultural identities? (c) What (if anything) have been the consequences of first language loss? These questions, because they examine contemporary circumstances arising from historical events over w h i c h the investigator has no control, necessitate a case study approach (Yin, 1994, pp. 4-7; see also Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983, p. 28). Because these questions also explore "the chronology of life...against a thematic network" (Stake, 1995, p. 96), the use of a biographical, life history, approach is implied.  45  A second rationale for using a life history case study approach is to bring more holistic approaches from sociological and anthropological fieldwork into the research o n immigrant (as opposed to indigenous) language l o s s .  10  N u n a n (1992)  has pointed out that i n second language acquisition research, the domain of language loss studies, the case study has been employed "principally as a tool to trace the language development of first and second language learners" (p. 78). Indeed, one of the best-known texts i n second language acquisition theory has this to say about case studies: A longitudinal approach (often called a case study i n the S L A field) typically involves observing the development of linguistic performance, usually the spontaneous speech of one subject, w h e n the speech data are collected at periodic intervals over a span of time. (Larsen-Freeman and Long, 1991, p. 11) Rather than take up this narrower definition of case study, I have been influenced by the life history approaches of Bertaux (1981a; 1981b), Bertaux and K o h l i (1981), Denzin (1986; 1989), Bertaux and Bertaux-Wiame (1981), and K i r b y and McKenna (1989). The present research project therefore adopts a framework i n w h i c h the life story serves as testimony allowing the "internal logic" of language loss "to emerge through the practices and representations of its actors" (Elegoet, 1978, cited i n M o r i n , 1982, p. 7). It adopts the point of view of K o h l i (1981) that life history is an evaluation of the past, i n terms of the present, w i t h a view to the future. This study is also guided by K i r b y and McKenna's description of "partial biographies", looking at first language loss from a subjective viewpoint, and thus, "researching from the margins" (p. 82).  In fact, Middleton (1992) points out that life history has not been much employed in educational studies. 10  46 Subjects 1 1  M y research-as-plarvned called for me to construct retrospective life histories w i t h people, primarily adults, w h o described themselves as having lost their first languages, and to continue collecting life history narratives until I either reached personal saturation (25 cases), or what Bertaux calls a "saturation of knowledge" (1981b, p. 37). Finding and recruiting 25 subjects appeared to be a hurdle; however, a letter to Archibald Rollo, editor of C o l u m n One i n The Vancouver Sun (see appendix A ) resulted i n more than 120 telephone, fax, and e-mail responses from people volunteering to spend up to 15 hours discussing their language loss experiences.  12  The notice i n the newspaper also resulted i n my being invited to the  province-wide radio show Almanac, hosted by Cecilia Walters, during w h i c h approximately 50 more people expressed an interest i n being part of m y study.  13  The subjects were adult or the adult parents of minority-language-speaking children; the majority were female, by a ratio of approximately three to one. Perhaps owing to this method of recruitment, the subjects also tended to be well-educated, well-informed, articulate, urban, established, and intellectually reflective about their o w n experiences w i t h first language loss. In fact, more often than not, volunteers mentioned during our initial telephone contact that they had been thinking about their language development recently. In order to gain a more rounded sense of first language loss for myself, I therefore also chose to include Kuong, Dhiet, Nadia, and Charles i n the cross-case analysis, people I had met by  Throughout this dissertation I have used the term "subjects" for lack of a better word. I intend that this word be interpreted so as to mean "subjects of the stories" rather than "subject to my manipulation"; however, despite this intent, they are indeed subject to my editorial authority. I n the announcement, I mentioned that a small honorarium would be given to those people completing the research project. This proved to be a non-issue except in the case of Richard (see chapter four). All but eight of the research subjects refused the honorarium, and of those, several only accepted it at my insistence. Others asked me to use the honorarium monies to further my research, or to make a donation to the foodbank or other charity. Because this was not mentioned in my ethical review as a method of recruitment, I was unable to accept the list of volunteers from CBC radio. llr  12  13  47 chance, or through my work as a teacher who were eager to share their experiences w i t h me. I d i d not, however, include stories unrelated to Canada, such as that of Teruko, w h o grew up Korean i n Japan, or of Sachiko, w h o lost the two other languages she spoke after returning to Japan, or of my husband, w h o never learned his islanders' language. I also chose not to include the life stories of m y relatives, or of my friends. A l l of these people, however, remain connected to this research project because, having read bits and pieces of the dissertation, they feel it speaks to their experience. During my initial telephone contact w i t h the volunteers, I listed, i n chronological sequence, potential subjects' names, telephone numbers, first languages, the time they called, and any additional information. I then contacted people i n list order, reminding them of the nature of the study, what was involved, the time commitment, and m y o w n developing bias i n the research, i.e. that losing a language was unfortunate and unnecessary.  14  Almost everyone I contacted was  eager to work w i t h me, despite the estimated time commitment. Conveniently for m y purposes, the subjects represented a large number of diverse languages, ages, immigration patterns, and professions. Beginning w i t h five subjects, I interviewed approximately twice a week, and transcribed interviews on the remaining five days. I contacted new subjects as each story became complete, keeping the number of subjects I was working w i t h between three and five, i n order that the interviews w o u l d always be at least 2 weeks apart and therefore not too intrusive on the subjects' lives. Although setting up initial interviews was, i n three cases, impossible, once interviews began there was zero percent mortality. In the end, I completed 21 life histories, three of them somewhat outside the parameters of  I initially was not prepared to endorse the assumption that first language loss was negative because no systematic research as to its effects was in evidence. However, most researchers seemed to be of the opinion that first language loss had negative consequences, and I was influenced by their opinions and research, though I tried to keep an open mind. 14  48 my study, but still integral to it. Included are nearly equal numbers of men and women, representing first (immigrant), second and third generation Canadians, from a variety of indigenous, European and Asian language groups, 15 of various social backgrounds, w i t h diverse career paths (including some w e l l - k n o w n personalities), and ranging i n age from nine years old to almost sixty. The following chart lists the subjects by pseudonym w i t h their various personal characteristics:  NAME  AGE I  6  FIRST  SEX  GENERATION  OCCUPATION  F  grandparents  nurse  LANGUAGE Nadia  30  Ukrainian  immigrated William  56  Welsh  M  adult immigrant  college professor (Biology)  Dhiet  18  Vietnamese  M  child immigrant  not legally employed  Greta  52  Dutch  F  child immigrant  writer and wife/mother  Ariana  33  Cantonese  F  grandparents  ESL teacher  immigrated Lara  45  Finnish  F  child immigrant  computer systems  (early)  analyst  Alexandra  53  German  F  parents immigrated  retired from I B M  Richard  46  Cree  M  indigenous  writer, actor  15  Unfortunately, however, neither Hindi nor Punjabi speaking volunteers participated. Ages given at time of interview, between June, 1995 and March, 1996.  16  49  Kuong  Kurt  18  40  Vietnamese  Polish  M  M  child immigrant  not legally  (early)  employed  adult immigrant  business communications  Cameron  Julian  Brian  12  9  19  Polish  Polish  Korean  M  M  M  child immigrant  elementary  (late)  student  child immigrant  elementary  (early)  student  parents immigrated  university student (Physics)  Alex  40  Russian &  M  Polish Naomi  51  Japanese  F  child immigrant  computer  (early)  programmer  grandparents  wife and mother  immigrated Hana K i m  Minette  Nellie  Michael  Charles  29  49  28  38  21  Korean  French  Cantonese  Portuguese  Japanese  F  F  F  M  M  child immigrant  news reporter/  (early)  television  child immigrant  news reporter/  (early)  newspaper  child immigrant  university student  (early)  (Education)  child immigrant  graduate student,  (early)  former clergyman  parents immigrated  college student (Kinetics)  Helena  25  Hungarian  F  parents immigrated  Marketing representative  50 Procedure Each life history subject recorded between three and five interviews, each of approximately two hours' duration. Initially I took notes during each interview; however, this practice proved to be distracting for the research subjects. N o t only is it necessary to maintain eye contact during life history narration, but also, i n the recording of life histories, the telling is equally important to the tale. I therefore began audio-taping the interviews, and writing i n the research journal I had already begun  17  after the interview was complete.  Interview Format Although I gave two pages of example questions (see A p p e n d i x B) to each subject w h e n I was introducing the study and arranging consent (see Appendix C), the initial interviews were open and unstructured. I explained to each subject that the example questions were to be used, if desired, as "thinking prods" or catalysts i n the time between interviews. Each subject was told before our first meeting that they w o u l d be asked to relate the story of their lives "from a language perspective", and that our initial interview w o u l d involve little direction from me, other than questions of clarification, or of additional information. While the subjects were narrating their stories, I made it a point not to interrupt (though I sometimes asked for clarification during natural pauses, or repeated a phrase w h e n the pauses became lengthy) until each subject said something to the effect of "I don't know what else to tell you", or "where should I go from here?" After the first interview, the interviews became more structured. I transcribed each interview immediately, including all "uhms" and "ahs" and false  a course on ethnography in education taught by D. Fisher in the Winter Session of 1995, we were asked to keep a research journal, and to write about, in our first entries, how we came to whatever stage we were at in our research projects. I continued this research journal throughout the data collection for this research project.  51 starts, and documenting all interruptions, i n case this turned out to be important.  18  Each interview took from 10 to 15 hours to transcribe, depending o n the speed and clarity of each subject's speech. Follow-up questions were written directly onto the transcripts, allowing me to quote verbatim before asking each question. Some of the questions w o u l d request more information, (e.g., "You mentioned that other children looked d o w n on Welsh speakers. C o u l d y o u give me an example?"); others w o u l d come from an analysis of the text (e.g., "I've noticed that y o u use words such as "stripped of" or "robbed" when describing your language loss. C o u l d y o u comment on that?"); others w o u l d try to elicit more stories (e.g., "Tell me about your first day of school"); and others w o u l d ask for opinions (e.g., "What do y o u think of current immigrant services?"). In most, but not all cases, the questions were suggested by the transcripts. Each life history generated approximately 80 to 100 pages of single-spaced, typed transcript, from which I extracted and pieced together a 10 to 15 page life story written i n first person narrative (see details below). Five of these stories, carefully selected, comprise chapter four. Chapter five then analyses emergent themes from all of the life stories. In this way both "direct interpretation of the individual instance" and "aggregation of instances", the two strategic possibilities for case study analysis (Stake, 1995, p. 74) are used. Life History Selection Establishing criteria for determining w h i c h five life stories to select proved difficult. Some broad parameters were established to guide the selection process. First, I decided to represent two Asian, two European and one Indigenous language. Although this is not really representative of the current ESL population i n  In the quotations from transcripts, readers may be confused by the curved dash (~). Because ellipses are used to indicate that part of a quotation has been left out, I chose to use this mark to mean that there was a pause. A pause of up to five seconds has one dash (~), a pause of six to ten seconds is represented by two dashes (•—), etc. 1 8  52 Vancouver, it is balanced, and is also fairly representative of second language learners i n twentieth century Canada. Second, I chose to include three female and two male voices because a) females outnumbered males about 3 to 1 i n volunteering for this study, b) the w o m e n had seemed more comfortable w i t h narration of their experiences, and c) because I wanted to answer claims i n feminist literature that more males than females are researched, resulting i n gendered knowledge. Third, a more controversial decision, I eliminated the "outliers", that is, people who were profoundly negatively affected by their language loss, or subjects w h o claimed to be completely untroubled by it. I d i d this because there were only three outliers (two profoundly affected, one unaffected), and I imagined a future i n which subjects profoundly affected by first language loss recognized themselves and realized for the first time how m u c h they lacked i n comparison w i t h others. Moreover, the one person w h o claimed to be completely unaffected by language loss was too strident i n her claims and too bitter for her words to have the ring of truth, while the two w h o were profoundly affected by language loss had not truly mastered any language (i.e. "semilingual") and therefore were not sufficiently articulate to frame coherent life stories. Fourth, and finally, I wanted to represent first (immigrant), second (parental immigrant) and third (grandparental immigrant) generations i n the stories. I wanted to include the stories not only of immigrants, but also of subjects born into dynamic minority-language communities. I then further narrowed the field by, (a) choosing two stories from two languages that had strong oral traditions and three from languages that didn't, (b) eliminating all stories from people who were fostered or adopted away from their first languages because of the other emotional issues impinging o n language development, (c) including only subjects whose families supported bilingual development rather than monolingual development i n English, (d) eliminating all stories from people i n the public eye w h o could be readily identified, (e) ensuring  53 that all stories represented different languages, (f) choosing stories that, taken together, touched on most of the themes that I planned to discuss i n the thematic analysis, (g) trying to include stories from people of a variety of ages and (h) including stories from people w i t h varying levels of skill i n both their first and second languages—from complete L I loss to some understanding to completely relearning the L I as an adult, and from extremely good oral English skills to quite poor oral English skills. Analysis After choosing the five stories to tell came the difficulty of piecing together the narratives and the tales that wanted to be told. Although I have referred to the process of gathering the life histories as "interviewing", I found that long sections of my transcripts contained uninterrupted narration. It was important not to break the flow of each narrative by presenting text w i t h m y questions/interruptions left intact, but to try to recreate, as m u c h as possible, the narrative mood that each subject generated. Like Burgos-Debray (1983), I made the decision to give each life story the form of a monologue because that most accurately reflected m y position as a listener. Also like Burgos-Debray, I found that this decision increased the difficulty of m y task (p. xx); it is easier to tell each story i n the third person i n m y o w n voice, than it is to piece each story together i n the subject's voice. Individual Story Analysis To do so, I first printed all of the transcripts for each story. Then, using the transcript of our first interview as an outline, I began to cut and paste excerpts from succeeding transcripts into the first interview transcript, where the information was connected. For example, if a subject were speaking of an experience i n kindergarten i n the first interview, and then related more about that episode i n a second or third interview, I w o u l d insert the additional information. In this way, I maintained the chronological integrity of the narrative form as set forth by each subject, assuming  54 that the individuals had told me their stories i n a form that was "right" for them, i n both informational/historical and emotional content. This helped to capture the different ways i n w h i c h different narrators told their stories, and to reflect the "individual talents and interests" (Cruikshank, 1992, p. 19) of the subjects. I next edited each story by taking out all "uhms" and "ahs" and those false starts w h i c h interrupted rather than revealed. While some false starts turned out to be integral to the emotion generated by the stories, and others allowed us to see glimpses of what subjects intended to say, but then didn't, many of the others were extraneous and merely irritated the flow of the narratives. These I removed. In this way, I was able to achieve a fluid text. For the most part, I eliminated run-on sentences, ensured that the verbs were i n agreement, and generally "tidied up" subjects' oral performances, because to have left their grammar incorrect w o u l d have r u n the risk of rendering m y research subjects "picturesque" (Burgos-Debray, 1983). Failure to do so w o u l d also have called unwarranted attention to the text when often subjects' errors were performance rather than competence based and w o u l d have detracted from the important stories the subjects had to t e l l .  19  Next, the texts had to  be "knit" together so that there was some connection between the parts of the narrative, particularly i n places where m y questions had prompted an explanation or clarification. W h e n doing this, I generally added no more than three or four words to any section. After editing the stories, I initially returned the manuscripts to their narrators for comment (including three of those which comprise chapter four). This practice was of questionable value and therefore it was discontinued. Subjects occasionally wished to correct some part of a story that they felt was poorly expressed; however, I was troubled b y one subject's retractions (see Ariana, below). Although Delamont Because my purposes were different in the emergent theme analysis (Chapter five), I did not "tidy up" the comments. In the emergent theme analysis, it is more important to be precise than to achieve a fluid text. 19  55 (1992) asserts that, "as long as the respondents know that a researcher is working, what they say to her i n answer to direct questions can be regarded as 'on the record'" (p. I l l ) and that "in general, if the subjects k n o w that I am a researcher, I assume anything said i n m y vicinity was either meant for me or is 'fair game'" (p. I l l ) , this was not a comfortable pose for me to enforce. Yet, there were often compelling reasons to include such stories, leaving me i n a quandary. H a d the subjects viewed their edited stories for the first time i n a completed document sympathetically examining context and theme, perhaps retraction w o u l d not have been an issue. W h e n subjects d i d not retract narratives, I found that I gained little from engaging i n member checks other than small-scale correction or corroboration of facts. A s these could have been checked i n the interview transcripts rather than i n the completed stories, I began to return copies of their interview transcripts to each subject, leaving it to them to initiate corroboration or correction. I also found that this practice was helpful because often the subjects themselves w o u l d refer to past interviews and comments they had made, expanding and elaborating without my asking questions. It enabled them to take further control of the interview context. W h e n the life stories were complete and five of them had been chosen, I wrote a three-part introduction for each, w h i c h introductions provide basic descriptions of the conditions under which we met, my impressions and understandings of each individual, the general background of the subjects necessary to understand/interpret the story, and the use of language or narrative form i n the stories. Stake (1995) mentions three possible paths a researcher might take w h e n developing a case study report: (a) chronological or biographical development, (b) the researcher's view of coming to know the case, or (c) discussion of one or more aspects of the case, w h i c h are, he claims, roughly equivalent to V a n Maanen's (1988) realist, confessional, and impressionist tales (pp. 127-8). In this dissertation, the interview context section is a Confessional Tale, focusing on my o w n collaboration  56 i n the research process. The life history context is meant to provide a third person omniscient "rather direct, matter-of-fact portrait...,unclouded by m u c h concern for how the fieldworker produced such a portrait" (Van Maanen, 1988, p. 7), and is, as such, a Realist Tale. The description of the narrative context sections include "personalized accounts of fleeting moments of fieldwork...carrying elements of both realist and confessional writing" (p. 7) and are therefore Impressionist Tales of language and narrative usage. Emergent Theme Analysis The next step was analysing the entire corpus of stories for "emergent themes and related experiences. First, I prepared an outline, relying heavily on my memory my journal, and m y intuition. Under the categories of "self", "family/community", "school" and "majority-language community" w h i c h had been prevalent i n the literature, I detailed an adequate discussion of the data, but was eager to more thoroughly re/search the transcripts w i t h the software program Q S R NUD*IST. After one and a half months I decided that I lacked the kind of imagination necessary to benefit from the program. Searching through the transcripts, re/searching the themes, making scratch notes on scraps of paper, working w i t h coloured pencils and crude diagrams, was all interesting and engaging for me. M a k i n g notes on the computer, coding items numerically, and constantly consulting the manual to understand how to use the program complicated m y work. I therefore went back to the data, following the advice of Patti Lather (in-class discussions, July, 1994) to read everything at least three times, immerse oneself i n the data, then ask questions about the research and re/search for replies. Methodological postscripts This account of the methodological considerations i n m y research project w o u l d not be complete without acknowledging the subjects' views of their roles i n the process. Although I tried to keep the interviews as open-ended as possible,  57 trying not to u n d u l y influence the resulting narratives, this was often an unrealistic expectation on m y part. T w o examples follow. W h e n I was interviewing Hana K i m , I found that her understanding of an interview and mine were i n opposition. A reporter for a major television station, Hana K i m always seemed to give the shortest answer possible, often articulately phrased and extremely "quotable". Hana Kim's responses were probably typical of her o w n experience w i t h interviews. A twenty second encapsulation i n dramatic language w o u l d be much more appropriate for airing on the evening news than a long-winded narrative filled w i t h digressions and lengthy explanations, even though the narrative is what I was after. Ariana was also a difficult person to interview. Ariana holds a Master's Degree i n the social sciences and she was interested i n completing a doctorate. A s a result, she also had a fairly strong sense of what a research interview should be like. Whenever I asked a question, or tried to get Ariana to narrate, she w o u l d begin w i t h a story, but then delve into opinions about how her experiences were typical or atypical, negative or positive. It w o u l d often take several tries before I could get her to tell me stories again; she preferred to speak her m i n d and to use the similarity i n our ages, education, outlook and professional experience to look for confirmation that I agreed w i t h her opinions. These are not singular examples. Nearly all of the subjects i n this research project seemed to have expectations of me as a researcher. They had their o w n agendas for what constituted a proper interview. They all seemed to have fairly strong opinions about immigration, heritage language education, the rights of minorities, public schooling, acceptable and unacceptable discrimination, and they very m u c h wanted to express those opinions, even i n a research format calling for stories. There were times when I felt strongly that, despite researchers' concerns that  58 we are using our subjects, we are sometimes being used by them. If doing research is a political act, so then is participating i n the research process.  59 Found on the copy room floor What a disaster today turned out to be. I e-mailed three people o n Monday, and Derk replied. I was excited because Derk's English was poor on the e-mail. H e was volunteering his 83-year-old father, and I thought that Derk's poor grammar and expression may be indicative of family English trouble. W e arranged that I w o u l d go out to meet his father at 1 p.m. today; D a n had poor English o n the phone as well. I went out to his father's place, rang the buzzer, no answer. Rang again, no answer. Walked around for 15 minutes, rang, no answer. Walked around another few minutes, rang, and a w o m a n answered. She wasn't expecting me but let me in. W h e n I got to the door, she asked if I was the housekeeper. I explained that I wasn't the housekeeper; I was there to interview M r . K. and that it had been arranged through Derk. M r . K . seemed convinced that I was there for Russian lessons and began getting upset, saying "but I don't know how-I've lost them". I was allowed in. The w o m a n explained that she was the manager of the building, and M r . K. felt his phone wasn't w o r k i n g properly. She phoned his daughter and talked to her for a minute, telling her that I was there. M r . K. asked me to sit down. I perched. The manager-woman gave h i m the phone and then asked me to please defrost some cabbage rolls for h i m because he really likes cabbage rolls, and to make sure he ate them w i t h his medicine because he gets confused when he doesn't take his medicine. W h e n she left, M r . K. gave me the phone. The daughter had no idea w h y I'd want to interview her father because he spoke Russian to all of his family and friends. I told her that M r . K . appeared confused and that I didn't want to add to his stress or confusion so I w o u l d give h i m his cabbage rolls and leave within ten minutes. I asked her to call back then and make sure her father was okay. I told M r . K. there had been a mistake, that I was there to interview h i m about language loss; he was offended that his son thought that he had lost his language. I said that obviously there had been a mistake and I was sorry. I suggested that we could heat up his  60 cabbage rolls and he whispered to me that everyone thought that he likes cabbage rolls so they keep giving them to him, but that he really hates them. H e directed me to the bologna, w h i c h he likes fried. I prepared his lunch quickly and left before his daughter could call back. M r . K. said he was sorry to lose me, that I was good company. I wished that I had lied about w h y I was there.... (Researcher Journal, August 24th, 1995, p. 24).  61 Face-Touching: A Story-book Executive Summary This chapter consists of five stories of first language loss, told byfivedifferent narrators, and preceded by introductions of the interview context, the life history context, and the narrative context. Ariana, an ESL teacher, was interviewed at her school. A third generation Canadian, Ariana nonetheless learned Cantonese at home before switching to English when her brother and sister began school. Most evident in her story are concerns that she be recognized as Canadian-born. She wants to be dissociated from other people of Cantonese extraction, particularly newcomers, and displays some racism against her own race. Richard, a Manitoban Cree male, was interviewed in his home. Born to traditionallyemployed parents on a reserve, Richard attended residential school and lost his first language. After a career in politics, Richard returned to his reserve and reacquainted himself with his language. He became involved in band government, particularly education. His story is most notable for his descriptions of language as a living, breathing, joyous entity. An immigrant Finn, Lara had been reflecting about her language loss when the call for volunteers was published. Seated on a leather wing chair in her living room, Lara speaks to us particularly poignantly about what it feels like to be an outsider looking in. Her story is also notable because she has very clear recollections of speaking Finnish, but, having forgotten the language, she cannot recall the soundtrack. Lara is also able to speak articulately about the adjustment of her parents, particularly their inability to change with the times either in English or in Finnish. Brian, a young male from Korea, was singular in that his parents were opposed to his participation in this research project. He was unable to ask them questions about his past because his parents did not want their privacy intruded upon, and therefore our interviews were conducted in public places. Although his story is replete with disclaimers that his  62 language loss did not have much meaning in his life, his commitment to the research project and some of his memories from school tell a different story. Helena was also most comfortable being interviewed at home. Helena's story is most notable for the difficulties in familial relationships, especially with her father, that she experienced because of language loss. Leaving home before finishing high school, Helena had to find her own way in order to graduate and continue into university. Although her relationship with her parents has been mended, she still feels that language remains a barrier. Her story is also interesting because she articulates the need for teachers to explain the rules of language instead of assuming their ESL students are "getting it".  63 FACE-TOUCHING: A STORY-BOOK 0 2  This chapter consists of five individual stories of first language loss, told by five different narrators—Ariana, Lara, Richard, Brian, and Helena. Each story is preceded b y an introduction w h i c h describes the interview context, the setting, the atmosphere, the sounds, the social climate, the time of day and year, all of w h i c h had an impact o n the story w h i c h was told. In the introduction, I also give an overview of each person's life so that their language loss story can be seen i n terms of the bigger picture. Finally, i n the introduction, I comment on the narrative strategies and language use of each story teller. But first I praye y o u of youre curteisye That ye n'arette it nought m y vilainye Though that I plainly speke i n this matere To telle y o u hir wordes and hir cheere, Ne though I speke hir wordes proprely; For this ye knowen also w e l as I: W h o so shal telle a tale after a man He moot reherce, as neigh as evere he can, Everich a w o r d , if it be i n his charge, A l speke he nevere so rudeliche and large, Or elles he moot telle his tale untrewe, Or feine thing, or finde wordes newe He may nought spare although he were his brother: He moot as w e l saye oo w o r d as another. (Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, lines 727-740)  The Japanese word for interview is represented by two characters which individually mean facetouching. This is, I feel, a perfect metaphor for the type of interviewing in this study.  20  64 Ariana: Introduction The Interview Context Ariana was the second person to call me (prior to 8 a.m.) after the description of my research project was published i n C o l u m n One of The Vancouver Sun on June 19th, 1995 (see A p p e n d i x D); the first person w h o called was an employee at the newspaper. Ariana was extremely enthusiastic, eager to begin w o r k i n g w i t h me immediately, and so we set up an appointment for Friday, June 23rd, 1995. Our first meeting together was a difficult one for me personally. I was nearly fourteen weeks pregnant, and the evening before had found out that the baby's heart had stopped beating. Consequently, I felt that I had to push forward i n m y work to keep myself from sitting at home feeling sorry for myself, a decision that I d i d not regret but w h i c h became impossible to follow through w i t h as the initial numbness wore off. I felt that I owed Ariana an explanation for m y haggard and joyless appearance, and so I told her briefly what had happened, but insisted that I wanted to continue. This proved to be a good choice for me, if not necessarily for Ariana. Some may think that it may have been a wiser choice to wait until after I had given myself a chance to recover emotionally and physically but I am glad I made the choice that I d i d . Perhaps o w i n g to my circumstances, I was introduced to a side of Ariana i n the first interview that became progressively more unfamiliar i n subsequent interviews. She was very k i n d and very gentle towards me, letting me see some of her pain and frustration without it being too m u c h overshadowed by anger. C o m i n g home from our first meeting, I told m y husband, and wrote i n my journal, that Ariana and I had a lot i n common, and that she was much like me, tough, defensive, and even aggressive to outsiders, but crumbly, soft, and shy w i t h friends and loved ones. During the second interview, whether because I was more alert, or because Ariana was less cautious, I began to feel that my judgment had been premature, that  65 I was missing something. I remain confused about Ariana's character. O n the one hand, I have no doubt that she was painfully honest i n her recollections of language loss, racism, schooling, and other life events. O n the other hand, I sometimes felt as if she were trying to paint her teaching career as somewhat more coherent than it really was. I often found that she w o u l d try to draw me into discussions of ESL theory, pedagogy, and policy, and she expressed an interest i n reading several papers that I had written. W h e n I gave her copies of those papers at our second interview, she read them carefully, and then opened our third interview w i t h questions, comments, and even praise for my criticisms of ESL practice i n British Columbia. A t the time I wondered what k i n d of person w o u l d choose to read academic policy analyses i n her spare time. I believe now that I was still too focused on my research project, and therefore failed to see that she was trying to find many levels on w h i c h we could connect. I believe that reading my papers made Ariana feel that she knew me a little bit more, and perhaps let her know that I could be trusted to take a point of view similar to hers. I w i s h that I had been more astute; we were, after all, the same age and committed to the same field. A t Ariana's suggestion, we met i n one of her classrooms, after her classes were finished, at the institute where she was an ESL teacher. I found myself o n a squeaky language laboratory stool, behind a narrow desk w i t h Ariana seated two stools away. W e both had to turn i n our seats to face one another. In the times we met we sometimes changed classrooms, sometimes we had windows and sometimes not, but we never sat across the table from one another, we always had to twist to see one another, and I always sat on her left. This, it seems, made the atmosphere more comfortable for Ariana. W h e n she was speaking she w o u l d look straight ahead, as if concentrating, trying to focus, and searching for the best w a y to make herself understood. W h e n she was finished narrating a story, voicing an opinion, or  66 answering a question, she w o u l d look at me and I w o u l d know that it was my turn to speak. Ariana is responsible for teaching me an important lesson i n doing research. After our fourth interview together, Ariana was offered a very prestigious teaching position overseas. In order to verify Ariana's life story w i t h her, I had to write it very quickly. It was the first life story that I pieced together, therefore I found it necessary to make several long-term, grueling, decisions about shape and form i n the life stories. After finishing the story, I went to back to her school and dropped it off on August 14th, 1995. I was pleased w i t h the story, except for its excessive length, and was confident that Ariana w o u l d also be pleased. O n August 15th, Ariana phoned to tell me that she had finished w i t h it. I picked it up the following day, only to find out that she had crossed out half of the story. I was left w i t h very little except her name, the fact that she had lost Cantonese, and a statement that she teaches ESL. A l l of the things that I had found particularly interesting i n her story had been crossed out, and she had marked "Irrelevant, please delete" i n the margins. • While I agree that several of the third party stories she told me had little to do w i t h her life, other than corroborating the current treatment of ESL students, they were also stories that she had told me off-tape, and then explicitly reminded me i n the following interview that she wanted to repeat them o n tape. I was frustrated, and I prepared a list of reasons that I could discuss w i t h her on the phone, justifying w h y I wanted to include the directly relevant aspects of her story. In the end, she agreed that if I deleted some of the identifying features of her life and "toned down" her comments, that I could leave it intact. After our telephone call, I was still frustrated, not because she had wanted to protect herself, but because, as I wrote i n my journal, "I am furious that she w o u l d say not 'I don't feel this strongly anymore', but 'this is irrelevant to your study'" (Researcher Journal, August 19th, 1995, p. 18). I felt angry, and I felt guilty for  67 feeling angry, given that intellectually I knew that I d i d not o w n Ariana's story just because I had listened, taped, questioned, transcribed, and written. I felt that I had not yet had enough experience w i t h language loss life stories to k n o w what was relevant and what was not; I d i d not relish being told b y someone w i t h even less experience. It was not how I imagined research should be. I started to question the value of "member checks" w h i c h are so highly touted i n feminist studies (the advocacy of w h i c h has also become fairly common-place i n research that does not adopt a feminist perspective). Where once I had wholeheartedly endorsed having participants read accounts of themselves, I hadn't really thought about what w o u l d happen if they wanted to censor or to change the vast majority of their o w n words. Despite widespread reading i n the field, I couldn't recall the outcome of any such incidents being discussed. I wrote: I'm going to make it absolutely clear that their disapproval does not mean I'm going to edit things out. From now on, I'm not going to mention that I'm going to do this. I can't take the pressure of feeling like I have to write nice things only. That's not right, especially since I'm just taking their o w n words and editing them together i n a coherent manner. (Researcher Journal, August 19th, 1995, p. 22) I still think that verifying stories and double-checking for anonymity are extremely important, but I now believe that researchers should make absolutely clear that what they are offering is a chance to comment, to modify, and to have participants' reservations put i n print, but not an opportunity for wholesale retraction. N o one reads academic research w i t h the naive belief that the researcher has been objective and impartial any longer, but, unfortunately, that is something w h i c h has not been communicated to the general public who, like Ariana, are often the participants i n research projects. H o w could Ariana know that people reading her story w o u l d take into consideration that her statements were context-bound, partial truths, the result of our collaboration? Despite claims about bridging the gap between academic and non-academic prose, current research practices influenced by  68 feminist and post modern theory have not made many inroads outside the university environment. I have, particularly through m y experiences w i t h Ariana, begun to question not only research practices but writing practices. W h o could say, after all, that an "experimental", post modern academic article, or dissertation, or thesis, w h i c h has been littered w i t h poetry, vignettes, and classical allusions, is more approachable, more readable, than one following a k n o w n format? It is more personal, yes, less rigid i n its truth claims, perhaps, but certainly not more accessible.  21  The Life History Context Ariana is a third generation Canadian, both of her grandfathers having immigrated from Canton, China to w o r k on the Canadian Pacific Railway. To place this historically, Ariana explained that when her maternal grandfather brought her grandmother to Canada, he had to pay the Head Tax. She assumes that her paternal grandmother came over after the H e a d Tax was phased out because she doesn't remember her father saying that his mother had to pay it. Although Ariana mentioned that her family has kept her grandmother's H e a d Tax document, she seems uncertain even of the decade i n w h i c h her grandparents immigrated. Ariana's father and mother were both born i n British Columbia, Canada. They both grew up bilingual, speaking only Cantonese inside the home, because their parents never learned to speak English. Ariana's mother speaks, reads, writes and understands Cantonese, while Ariana believes that her father cannot read or write it, perhaps because his mother spoke some limited English while her maternal grandmother never learned to speak it at all. Therefore, Ariana says that the standing joke i n her family is that they are CBCs, meaning Canadian-born Chinese: "we're yellow on the outside, we're bananas, but on the inside we're Canadians"  This is similar to a point made recently by Tierney (1995) who claims that much of this inaccessibility is due to bad writing rather than difficulty of concept (p. 386). 21  69 (June 22nd, 1995, p.3). Like her parents, Ariana was developing bilingually i n Cantonese and English, even while playing w i t h the neighbourhood children, until she entered school and encountered discrimination. Ariana, born i n 1961, grew up i n a rapidly-changing community i n the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. While she and her older siblings were the only Chinese-Canadian students i n her elementary school, there were increasing numbers of Chinese heritage students over the course of her public school education. A s she points out, i n 1995-6, children of Chinese descent are now i n the majority i n the schools that she used to attend, and therefore the k i n d of cultural insensitivity that she experienced likely wouldn't occur. Putting this i n context, she explained that I was a minority so there was no need to address the concerns of a large number of people, foreigners today w h o are i n our country. Back then there was very little, so w h y shouldn't I be the one w h o had to adapt to the system and had to become part of the system, instead of other people bending over backwards to accommodate me and m y language needs? (July 20th, 1995, p. 6) Indeed, i n many respects Ariana feels that the current multicultural climate has gone too far the other way. Although she thought it was very important for me to complete this research project and to tell educators, second language learners, and the ESL teaching field that "there's a major concern of losing one's identity" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 6) w h e n first languages are neglected and lost, she also expressed shock at how m u c h more newcomers to Canada are entitled to today than when her grandparents immigrated: It astounds me that often-times I see students w i t h very low levels of English, but yet they know how to extract a number of benefits from the government. I'm like " H o w d i d you know that?" I didn't even know that such an agency or Ministry was around until they started showing me letters, and I'm like "what is this?" So, it really is m i n d boggling. (July 13th, 1995, p. 14) She, at first glance, appears very divided on the issue of services for newcomers to Canada. In fact, it seems that while Ariana strongly endorses first language  70  maintenance and cultural support programs and also fully supports the teaching of ESL, she is more skeptical of other settlement and immigrant family programs that do not have a direct bearing on language. Of course, Ariana's opinions are likely shaped by her o w n occupation as well as experiences. Ariana is an ESL teacher who has taught an enormous range of ages and English abilities. Trained i n elementary education, she began w o r k i n g w i t h adults while w o r k i n g on a graduate degree, and continued after she completed her degree. She has taught i n a number of different types of educational institutions, educating visa, L I N C (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada), university transfer, and regular high school students. She is a very dedicated teacher, considering herself a master teacher, and often taking an advocacy role for the ESL students that she comes i n contact with. Indeed, Ariana related a number of third party stories during our interviews w h i c h attested both to the past and to the current situation for ESL students i n the Lower Mainland. For example, she told of an immigrant Cantonese acquaintance, two years older than she, w h o had entered school without speaking English. A s there were no ESL classes at that time, Victor was sent home w i t h a note w h i c h said "Don't bring your child back to school until he can speak English". The parents, having no other resources, made Victor watch T V for twelve hours a day until he was allowed to enter school. According to Ariana, Victor then lacked confidence throughout his school career. A s she said, even if the teacher had no training i n ESL, she should never have been so "callous" toward a small child: "That's unforgivable, and that's really-that's uncalled for. Y o u don't do that to anybody...." (July 13th, 1995, p. 15). Ariana also told several more recent stories. One teacher was baking cookies w i t h her adult ESL students i n their classroom at a local elementary school. W h e n they were finished and had cleaned up, the school principal came i n and accused the  71 ESL students of washing their dishes i n the toilet. W h e n the teacher expressed disbelief, he summoned her into the hallway, and told her to go into the toilet cubicles i n the girl's bathroom and check out the mess. She looked into the bathroom, and told the principal that all she saw was blue and green paint. Apparently another teacher had told her students to empty their leftover watercolours into the toilets. Ariana commented, A n d what that seems to say to me is that there was so m u c h ignorance out there about ESL students and about the people from different countries and different cultures, that they seem to think that newcomers to Canada are somewhat barbarian, and that they don't know h o w to clean dishes, and that they are very crude i n their personal hygiene, and that they w o u l d wash a cookie tray i n the toilet! It's so absurd, and so very insulting, that I think really attitudes have to change towards ESL students, and toward newcomers.... (July 13th, 1995, p. 1) Ariana also told me about ESL classes being housed i n basement rooms, storage areas, and cafeterias, both i n public schools and i n private educational institutions. She was enraged by teachers w h o she saw as exploiting their students, teaching for the first fifteen minutes of a class and then giving out worksheets for the class to work on silently at their desks. She said that she received numerous complaints from her adult students w h o were parents, and from children i n school w h o needed additional tutoring, that ESL teachers were untrained, old, sick, and incompetent. Ariana remarked that ...things like that really make me sick. That they're getting a wonderful salary, and they're supposed to be there to help the students, and they're not. A n d how come these very students who are i n the ESL classes...have to go and hire a tutor later on i n the evening to help them w i t h their English? W h y is that happening? To me, if the ESL teacher is doing his or her job, there's no need to have a tutor on a regular basis. (July 20th, 1995, p. 1) Every time that Ariana told one of these stories, she became an advocate for all ESL students, pushing for greater understanding, more institutional resources, and better  72 trained, more caring teachers. Perhaps owing to her background, Ariana's choice of career is a personal mission, something that she does not forget w h e n she leaves the classroom after school. The Narrative Context One of the most striking things about Ariana is the tension she exhibits between, on the one hand, not wanting to be Chinese, not intending to learn Cantonese, and feeling a complex, tangled, and bemused abhorrence of the "old ways" and the "hocus pocus traditions" (July 13th, 1995, p. 18) of her cultural heritage, while, on the other hand, wishing that she had maintained her Cantonese language and culture, and regretting that she had internalized, what she referred to as "being racist against her o w n race" (July 20th, 1995, p. 6), w h i c h characterized her childhood recollections. During our interviews together, she often revealed her disdain for the cultural practices of some of her relatives and her disgust that they not only w o u l d not abandon traditional rituals even 20 years after immigration, but also expected her to participate i n them. Although I encountered racism against one's o w n race many times, and i n many degrees, i n no one was it more pronounced than i n Ariana: ...I find it very annoying when we get together for family reunions and they're insisting we do this, this, this, and I'm going "why are we doing this? That's how y o u people do it, but you're i n Canada, w h y not try the Canadian approach?" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 4) ...but they had a very different perspective and w h e n it comes to very very traditional Chinese things, after somebody dies, and even after the birth of a baby, it's supposed to be a cleansing process, they cook this, what I find absolutely offensive soup, that just smells up the whole house, but they believe i n that. But then, as a cousin, they want to give it to me, and they tell me "drink it" and I tell them "I can't drink that. I respect what y o u do, but I just can't bring myself to drink your exotic concoctions.... (June 22nd, 1995, p. 4) I think Chinese is b-b-b-b, and so nasal and whine-y sounding.... (June 22nd, 1995, p. 7)  73  Based on what I've heard, and based on what I've seen of their standard of living, if y o u could call it that, I'm sorry, I cannot go to a country where there is no real running water, and they have no real sense of cleanliness or of hygiene, and from what I've-[heard] - I ' m not impressed. A n d I could not go where to me it seems backward. I couldn't. (July 13th, 1995, p. 8) I mean, that's fine for their mother to hang on, but I can't really understand w h y they w o u l d want to hold on to hocus pocus traditions. A n d I'm going " M y god, you guys, get w i t h the program. This is Canada". (July 13th, 1994, p. 18) During our third interview, I questioned Ariana about these and other strong statements she had made, and Ariana thought about it for a long time. Because she was so concerned about how she had managed to adopt those attitudes, i n our last two interviews together, Ariana expressed dismay about her opinions. She d i d not say that her feelings had changed, but she was concerned about, and disturbed by, her o w n racism. What saddened me is that Ariana d i d not forge her attitudes i n a vacuum; they are a reflection of the cultural prejudices that surround her. Although I w o u l d hesitate to make too much of it, I wondered at Ariana's choice of pseudonym. "Ariana", I mused, "Aryan-a". A t the same time Ariana stressed her envy of present-day immigrants w h o are, i n what she feels is a more culturally sensitive climate, encouraged to maintain their languages, their cultures, and their religious/political beliefs. W h e n queried, Ariana said that "impatience comes from being denied~I guess the right or the privilege to maintain m y language when I was growing up" (July 13th, 1995, p. 14). Throughout her story, Ariana speaks of "losing out" because of not being Canadian enough as a child, not having blond hair and blue eyes, not speaking the English language, not having her cultural heritage respected. A s a result, she worked hard to become part of the majority culture, and even became proud to have "assimilated very nicely and...forgotten all m y Chinese" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 3). Today, Ariana is still losing out, not because she isn't Canadian enough, but because  74 she isn't Chinese enough to fit i n w i t h the current climate of multiculturalism. A s an ESL teacher, she is expected to participate i n multicultural days, but she doesn't know anything about Chinese N e w Years, festivals, traditions, or ideals. She doesn't speak the language, and doesn't feel a part of the community: ...and even i n our o w n country where people are encouraged to have French, Japanese, Mandarin, whatever, we can't even do that. A n d we can't even participate i n our Chinese community because I feel like I'm an outsider. A n d sure other people have the luxury of speaking English and Chinese, but I really envy that, and if I were to participate~I know I'd be ostracized because, well, "you're Chinese, but how come y o u don't speak the language?" A n d my sense is that I turned m y back on them i n the earlier days, so w h y should I be allowed back into the Chinese community? (June 22nd, 1995, p. 10) Ariana says that she w i l l never feel fully a part of "mainstream W A S P culture", and is still not interested i n learning about her Chinese heritage. H a v i n g lost out twice, that is, being first too Chinese, and then not Chinese enough, Ariana is "angry that when I was growing up, there was just so m u c h lacking i n terms of educational resources and services" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 10). She believes that, even if multiculturalism had come about as late as when she was ten years o l d , she w o u l d have been able to maintain her language and take pride i n her culture. For Ariana, multiculturalism has been a mixed blessing. I was struck, too, by Ariana's choice of words when she commented on multiculturalism today: I'm really glad that I chose ESL because, even though I was deprived of m y cultural background, I'm glad now that I can make amends i n some w a y and make sure that m y students maintain theirs, and that they are not to be ashamed of speaking Chinese or Japanese and that they are not ashamed to be wearing their traditional outfit to school w h e n we have a multicultural day. (June 22nd, 1995, p. 5) When I initially questioned her about w h y she used the term "make amends", as if she had done something wrong, Ariana explained that she meant trying to compensate i n some way for her loss, and vicariously experiencing heritage and  75 cultural knowledge through her students. W h e n I stated "It really struck me because you often talk about the guilt that you feel^ and you're trying to apologize for having your language stolen basically" (July 13th, 1995, p. 18), Ariana tentatively agreed that there may be a deeper meaning to her words, and that she wanted to give it some more thought. This was not the only occasion on w h i c h I was attracted by Ariana's choice of words. A t various times during our interviews, Ariana referred to having been "given a raw deal" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 5), or being "gypped" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 5) by cultural attitudes w h i c h forbade the use of Cantonese. The loss of her language, having it "stripped from [her] w h e n I was younger" (July 20th, 1995, p. 6), Ariana feels, has "really robbed [her] of [her] cultural heritage" (July 20th, 1995, p. 4). Ariana views her language not so much as lost, but stolen, indicated by her attribution of agency. Language loss was something that was done to her, not something that she willingly participated i n . Moreover, when I asked her about the strong language and violent images she used to describe the loss, or rather, theft, of her language, she d i d not express surprise at her words, reiterating instead that "I really feel it's been a personal assault. I've been denied certain things; it was taken away..." (July 20th, 1995, p. 6). A second thing that struck me about Ariana's w o r d choice was her description of herself as "Canadianized" (e.g., June 22nd, 1995, p. 4; p. 5) rather than Canadian. This was not unusual, particularly amongst the visible minority subjects (see chapter five), but I d i d find it especially interesting because A r i a n a is not an immigrant, but a third generation Canadian. W h e n I later spoke to Ariana about her identity attitudes, she replied O h , now I feel that I'm definitely a part of the Canadian society, the part of~well~ the W A S P establishment. I feel that I am a part of it now because of having gone through all my schooling here, m y education here, w o r k i n g here, I feel that I certainly am Canadian and identify  76 very strongly w i t h being Canadian and not Chinese, because of all the newcomers, and not one of them. (July 13th, 1995, p. 19) Of particular note, Ariana does not equate being Canadian w i t h being born i n this country, rather, being Canadian comes from schooling, education, and, presumably, the mastery of English. Moreover, Ariana's strong identification w i t h being Canadian stems from the influx of new Chinese immigrants w h o m she views as different from herself. Recent immigration patterns have pushed her into representing the W A S P establishment, a very odd circumstance because Ariana's constant descriptor for W A S P society is "blond hair, blue eyes" (June 22nd, 1995, p. 5 (twice), p. 7, p. 8 (twice); July 13th, 1995, p. 2). This, it seems, is the other side of Ariana's ambiguous attitudes towards her Chinese heritage—an equally ambiguous "Canadian" identity. W h e n I asked her if she could perhaps clarify her identity for me, she paused, and then finally answered "That's tough....I don't know. I don't know" (July 13th, 1995, p. 19). G i v e n that Ariana clearly identifies k n o w i n g the Cantonese language w i t h being Chinese, saying "Well, I just feel that I'm not really Chinese, because if I were Chinese, how come I can't speak it?" (July 13th, 1995, p. 12), her confused racial identity is inextricably linked to her language loss. I was also struck by Ariana's distinctive vocal patterns. I found myself wondering whether I was listening to her "real voice", or her "teacher voice", if she naturally spoke i n this manner, or if, like myself, she spent so much time around non-native speakers of English that some of her expressions and her intonation became non-standard. I wrote i n my journal after meeting w i t h her: I wouldn't really call [her accent] a native speaker accent. M a n y forms of the language that she uses are very unusual and her key phrases are things like "but I'm Canadian-born". To me, this is quite strange. I w o u l d also describe her intonation as non-standard. It's not that it's really so much non-standard as that her voice always seems to be out of place, like a lecture to a million people without a microphone. (Researcher journal, August 17th, 1995, p. 17)  77 I have noticed, while transcribing the tapes, that her intonation is exaggerated, and that her sentences tend to rise i n intonation at the end. Yet, rather than making her seem tentative and questioning, it seems to me that she is asking for collusion, seeking m y understanding. Despite the complexity of her sentence structure and the comprehensiveness of her vocabulary, her grammatical/linguistic choices are often non-standard; for example, the phrases "I am enviable of", "to enroll for Japanese lessons", "say derogatory names about m y racial background", and "I admire that there have been" all appear on page one of the transcript of our first interview.  22  In  addition to these non-standard utterances, Ariana displays a lot of hyper-correct speech; for example, she uses the non-contracted form, saying "whose first language is not English" and "oh this is not good" without stressing the negative. Because Ariana is a highly-intelligent, highly-educated, young woman, I found myself wondering whether her non-standard language was a result of her linguistic development, of being exposed to non-standard English on a daily basis at work, or of a certain difficulty w i t h oral performance. Although I w o u l d tend to discount oral performance difficulties as a factor because Ariana was able to employ extremely complex sentence patterns without grammatical error, it is possible that she could not attend to sentence-level and phrase-level performance simultaneously. Finally, a look at Ariana's story w o u l d not be complete without noting her parents' participation i n her education. A large number of language loss studies cite parental illiteracy, lack of educational commitment, and an attitude of "benign neglect" as contributors to first language loss. Ariana's story clearly shows an enormous parental commitment to her education, and considerable effort invested i n helping the children to develop bilingually, and yet their best efforts were thwarted b y the educational system. I think there are three things worth noting. First, i n order to combat the racism they had encountered, and w h i c h led them to tell  2 2  I later had the opportunity to read some of Ariana's prose which exhibited the same features.  78 their children they'd have to be twice as good as blond-haired, blue-eyed Canadians, Ariana's parents felt they had to drill their children on proper English usage before and during their school years. Secondly, this practice led to a situation i n which both English and Cantonese became permissible home languages. Therefore, thirdly, as long as the educational system demands that parents assist their children i n their acquisition of English language and culture, instead of encouraging them, and even assisting them, i n having their children maintain their first languages, language loss w i l l continue to occur, even i n the most highly-educated and linguistically-aware families. We w i l l now turn to Ariana's story, the story of being a Canadian-born Chinese woman.  79 Ariana's Story: But I'm Canadian-born H i , m y name is Ariana and I was born i n Vancouver many many years ago, i n 1961. M y parents are Canadian-born. D a d was born i n Victoria and M o m was born i n Vancouver. It's interesting, I think, that even though m y parents are Canadian, I was encouraged to speak Chinese, particularly Cantonese, at home w i t h m y parents. I think this was due i n part to the fact that occasionally m y grandmothers w o u l d visit and of course they never spoke English and so we had to converse i n Cantonese. Although I can't say that I remember v i v i d l y m y early childhood years, I know that later all m y little story books, m y little "Golden Books", were i n English. There weren't any Chinese books i n our house. I spoke Cantonese up until I was about four years old, and then I began playing w i t h the kids i n the neighbourhood. W h e n m y older sister entered the public school system, she lost Cantonese very quickly and so then there was really no need to speak it. W e all spoke English thereafter. A s I was growing up, all the children i n our neighbourhood spoke English; we were the only Chinese kids on the block so to speak, so after I played w i t h them, I lost m y language very, very quickly. I recall being at school and being teased. There were a number of racial remarks made about the fact that I was Chinese, and, even though I never spoke Chinese at school, the other kids i n m y class w o u l d taunt me and say derogatory names about m y racial background. In m y days, there was no such thing as multiculturalism; what we had instead was cultural insensitivity. Some students tried to mimic the Chinese language, and of course, being a very sensitive person, I felt "Oh this is not good", and so, i n order to have friends, I felt I had to speak their language, so quickly m y Cantonese was dropped. W h e n I was going to school, it was never overtly said, but there was the innuendo that "you're i n a Canadian school, everyone speaks English so y o u had better speak English—and don't ever utter a w o r d of  80 Chinese". I grew up feeling that I was to be ashamed to be Chinese, and, of course, to speak Cantonese was forbidden. M y Chinese cultural heritage was really shunned after I started school, because kids w o u l d make racial jokes and remarks about "you chinks". W h e n I heard that I was so hurt. I remember a classmate saying "Ariana, just ignore him. Just ignore him". I'm really quite surprised looking back on it because even the teachers knew that the kids were going "chinky chinky chinamen", but they wouldn't say anything. A n d the boys, I guess boys w i l l be boys, w o u l d pretend to be Chinese, going "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at me". A n d then the other students w o u l d start mimicking the Chinese sounds; even though it wasn't even Chinese, they'd start trying to sound like Chinese, and that was so hurtful. I was ashamed to be Chinese. The teachers w o u l d see it but they'd prefer just to turn away, and not stop and say "Look that's not nice. That's not a nice thing to do picking o n other kids. It doesn't matter that Ariana's Chinese", and so nothing was done to stop that. W e had to become very Canadianized, and act like our fellow classmates w h o had blond hair and blue eyes, and dress like they d i d , and match all our nuances and speech attitudes to theirs. If we hadn't done so we w o u l d have been ostracized and then w h o w o u l d we have had for classmates and for friends? A n d , at that time, m y sister and I were the only Chinese students. So we made a pact: "Let's not say that we're Chinese. M o m and D a d said that we were born i n Vancouver; that's what we'll tell them". A n d even later w i t h the advent of multiculturalism w h e n teachers w o u l d ask, "So what do y o u do for Chinese N e w Year's", I'd smile and say "Oh no, I don't observe Chinese N e w Year's; I observe January 1st". A n d this is what's so sad about having lost it. Part of m y identity has gone d o w n the tube. Yes, technically I'm Chinese, I was born Chinese, but because I was born i n Canada, and m y parents are  81 Canadian-born, and I've lost the language, I don't feel that a real part of me belongs to the Chinese culture. So what I grew up w i t h was a tenet of "Lose it quickly and learn English as quickly as y o u can" and to this very day, it's all been English for me. I even asked my parents "Did I actually speak Chinese?" and they said "Of course y o u d i d when you were little", but I have forgotten it for so long, I don't even remember. I apparently repressed it because I was just so ashamed to speak it, that there are times when I asked "I don't really think I spoke that language, d i d I?" M y m o m and dad w o u l d say "yeah, y o u did. W h e n y o u were little you spoke it very beautifully and now you've lost it". A n d now w h e n people ask m y m o m "Mrs. Chan, how come Ariana doesn't speak Chinese?" m y mother replies "Well I feel that if Ariana is Canadian-born, she's going to be working i n Canada and Ariana w i l l probably be dying i n Canada, so w h y shouldn't she know English perfectly?" Moreover, m y parents experienced a lot of racism and m y mother always told me that if you want to get ahead and get a good job, you've got to be twice as good as a person w h o is Canadian-born and fits the typical Canadian ideal of blond hair and blue eyes. I was brought up very firmly that you've really got to give it that extra something to make sure that you're successful. The basic message from m y parents was "Learn the English language, and learn it well and if y o u happen to remember Chinese fine, and if you don't well~". In a w a y I had an advantage when I started school, even though I had spoken Cantonese as a child. M y dad and m y mother are both teachers. Both m y parents and m y older sister wanted to make sure—and I guess this is consistent w i t h our Chinese culture; they're high achievers—that I understood sight words, and so even before I went to school they sat me d o w n w i t h little readers, and m y sister pretended she was a school teacher, and she w o u l d drill me on sight words just to make sure I was up to scratch w i t h the other, Caucasian, kids. So going to school itself was not a  82 problem because I had a head start from m y o w n family, being nurtured, and they made sure that I was a part of it, or even above the other kids, w h e n we started grade one. They encouraged me to read and ask questions and they always made sure that I answered i n full sentences, orally and written, because they wanted to make sure that I had good form before I was sent off to school. Therefore, thank G o d , language wasn't a problem for me. I saw what people w h o didn't have English-speaking parents had to go through, and it was really disheartening. I didn't really have any problems at school, not academic problems. In grade eleven, however, when I was taking a composition course, I was really offended by the w o m a n w h o was teaching the course. She was hard on everyone and very obnoxious, but she said to me—she looked at one of m y writings and she said to me—"Why don't I send y o u to ESL?". I was so offended. I told m y mom, w h o told another teacher at the school that m y writing teacher wanted me to take ESL. The teacher went "What? Ariana's Canadian-born!!!" I was so insulted. I didn't have any verb tense, or subject verb problems at all, but for some reason...! That w o m a n was going through a very very tough time herself and she was picking on even kids w i t h blond hair and blue eyes and saying "Do you call this English?" and she'd throw it d o w n and insult their writing. For me, it got so bad that the principal intervened on m y behalf and said "About one of your students, Ariana Chan....she's Canadian-born y o u know and her parents are teachers... w h y d i d y o u tell her to go to ESL?" and she said "Oh, well, you know, she's Chinese and I just think she needs ESL". But she was so quick to judge. She just assumed that because I had black hair and I was the only Chinese student i n that classroom that I was misplaced and that I should have been i n an ESL class, not i n a regular writing and composition course. Y o u know, I asked m y dad to read m y essay because he loves writing as well, and I asked m y sister and they said "This is good. A l l y o u have to do is just expand on  83 your ideas". I gave what I thought was enough, but I didn't develop the ideas adequately and it was misinterpreted as "She needs ESL". I was actually really careful w h e n it came to writing. M y dad sat me d o w n during the summer months and he said "well nothing against y o u personally, but I just want to make sure that w h e n y o u graduate from high school, you're a good writer". H e said that he had many students w h o can't write, and I said "But dad they're Canadian-born" and he said "It doesn't matter. N o b o d y taught them how to write". So over the summer m y dad sat me d o w n parsing, doing all the subject, verb, predicates, and he made sure that we had a very good handle on grammar. Even going through grade four, one teacher commented to m y m o m "Oh your daughter seems to k n o w her subject and verb stuff really well". So the grammatical aspect was not a problem, but just because I didn't expand on ideas, this high school teacher of mine wanted to send me to ESL. I had a problem w i t h form and content rather than the run-of-the-mill mechanics, and it was misinterpreted. If you didn't put a name on it, it w o u l d be the same as all the other kids w i t h the blue eyes and blond hair, but because this little girl w i t h black hair handed it i n it was "why don't we send her to ESL?" I guess that's another factor that sort of contributed to m y losing the language, the fact that both m y parents speak English very well, and they were teaching i n English and using the language w i t h their students, and that's w h y it was never impressed u p o n me to speak Chinese at home, because everybody, m o m and dad, spoke English. The rare times that m y grandmothers d i d come over, m o m and dad were the translators. A n d so, over time, there was no need, I guess, to maintain the Chinese language. In fact, I'm really ashamed to say I was very intolerant w i t h m y maternal grandmother because she never spoke English and I felt she wasn't making an effort to learn my. language. I remember being very intolerant w i t h her, and even to the  84 point of going "Oh, i f she's coming up I don't want to talk to her". I'm really ashamed that that's how I felt because I kept thinking "Doesn't this w o m a n know English? She should make an effort." M y dad's m o m had a little bit of English so I could talk to her, but anything complicated, m y parents w o u l d have to translate. I also remember being annoyed w i t h other relatives w h o were coming to visit. M y parents w o u l d say "This is auntie so and so and uncle...." and I'd be like "They can't speak English. W h y are y o u dragging me along to this boring dinner when I have to listen to Chinese?" A n d I didn't want to even be associated w i t h relatives w h o couldn't speak m y language. In retrospect that was very bad because I lost out on a very important relationship, but it just goes to show y o u what I was inundated w i t h and what was going through m y thought processes: "If I was made to feel bad speaking Chinese, for being Chinese at school, w e l l w h y shouldn't these people w h o are visiting me know a little bit of English?"  23  I admire that there have been a number of efforts to change our whole approach towards children whose first language is not English, and also for the government to have this whole business of multiculturalism. It's really sad that I don't have a w o r d of Cantonese and I'm totally lost w h e n people are speaking Cantonese. What's even sadder, I understand more of what m y Japanese students are saying to me than I do of what m y Cantonese students are speaking to me. O n the d o w n side, I really regret losing m y Cantonese language, because I find even if I wanted to relearn the Cantonese, it w o u l d be difficult. I've taken a little bit of Japanese, and I can say right now that Chinese is very tonal and so it's going to be an uphill struggle for me to learn Chinese again. In fact, I guess i n some ways it's been instilled i n me so m u c h as a k i d to lose it, that I'm even ashamed to even try to learn  Ariana adopted a different tone of voice whenever she was trying to represent her thought processes or what she or other people were saying. On the audio tapes, it is very clear that she shifts from story or opinion narration to performance, a shift that was accompanied by different gestures and facial expressions. 23  85 Cantonese, and i n fact I've even gone so far as to enroll for Japanese lessons, not Chinese lessons. That's the sad part of it. A n d , as an ESL teacher, I admit I am enviable of the young people coming over today. They are encouraged to speak their language, and they are able to attend weekend schools to maintain the languages. I envy that because i n m y day it was "Lose it quickly" so I had to lose the Cantonese language, and now it's lost, and I feel a part of me has been lost w i t h it. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get the Cantonese back. It's a very sad state when you lose your language and y o u learn another language and when y o u see people being encouraged to maintain their languages today, but i n m y day it was "hurry up and lose it", and there was no support for multiculturalism or the fact that I came from an ethnic background. I just feel that I'm not really Chinese because if I were Chinese how come I can't speak it? I've always believed that language and culture are intertwined, and if m y language was stripped from me when I was younger, what the heck can I say about the Chinese culture? I can't relate to it. I can't communicate w i t h them. Oftentimes m y students even tease me and say "Hey Ariana, y o u say you're Chinese but how come you don't understand?". A n d that's w h y I feel that I lost a part of m y identity. I use the analogy of being a banana—yellow on the outside but white on the inside. I look at it as an assault on my identity. I guess now as First Nations are wanting to preserve their languages—they have a voice and they're doing something about it—but nothing was done i n m y era, and I really feel that it's been a personal assault. I've been denied certain things; it was taken away and that's w h y the strong feelings, the very intense emotional feelings that I have toward losing my first language. A n d that's how I feel. A n d I don't know. I guess if I made a concerted effort I could try to learn the language, but because of what's happened i n the past and because I feel so ashamed to be Chinese, I don't have this desire to learn Chinese. In fact I want to learn Japanese, and it's going to take a lot of... it's  86 going to be a major project and a major uphill battle for me to sit d o w n and want to learn Cantonese. I have to admit that when I see people d o w n at the store, speaking very loudly, some Caucasians give me this disgusted look. I just smile and say "That's not me. I'm Canadian-born". I say "I know these guys have no respect for our land and no respect for our space and all that" and the Caucasians sort of look at me. A n d I say "Well that's typical H o n g K o n g behaviour and I w o u l d have to say that's typical Taiwanese aggressive behaviour". A n d I tell them quite bluntly, "Sure I'm Chinese on the outside, but I'm Canadian-born and I agree w i t h you, it's very annoying when you go to McDonalds or some public place, and y o u can't really enjoy your meal, or you can't really talk to friends because those people are speaking so loudly". Because of what I've... what's been ingrained i n me, I really don't like that at all. I get very annoyed w h e n people assume that I'm going to respond i n Chinese to them. I'm afraid I don't have a lot of patience for Chinese people or for China. Based on what I've heard, and based o n what I've seen of their standard of living, I don't want to go there. I'm sorry, I cannot go to a country where there is no real running water and they have no real sense of cleanliness or of hygiene. I could not go to a place where it seems backward. I couldn't. I've been to east Malaysia where it is somewhat backwards, but for some reason China seems to be a lot more backwards than east Malaysia, so I wouldn't be ready for that, not at this point i n my life. If I were a bit older I guess I should go there just to see where m y roots are and all that, but I'm not ready for that yet. I have no qualms about going to other third w o r l d countries I'll go to a third w o r l d country, but I don't want China. I'm really glad that I chose ESL because even though I was deprived of m y cultural background I'm glad now that I can make amends, compensate, i n some way and make sure that m y students maintain their languages, and that they are not to be ashamed of speaking Chinese or Japanese, and that they are not to be ashamed  87 to be wearing their traditional outfits to school when we have a multicultural day. I'm glad that I'm able to step back and say "Okay even though I was given a raw deal, I don't have to be like that. I can change and help make sure that people foster better understandings between Canadian-born people and immigrants and even if you are Canadian-born and are from a different ethnic extraction, be proud of w h o you are and maintain that culture and that language", because so m u c h is lost if you don't. There's a major concern of losing one's identity when immigrants come to a new country, and they're afraid. They don't know: "Are they really Canadian or are they Chinese?" Just the other day we had our multicultural day here, all the little kids came i n and danced from Bosnia, and I thought that was so wonderful because already they're maintaining their roots, yet they're still getting used to the Canadian culture, but there was that almost like an option, they had a choice to keep it if they wanted to, but i n m y days there wasn't that choice and... it was never said overtly but through innuendo and covertly it was "hurry up and become a Canadian". A n d that's w h y I chose ESL, because I wanted to give the students a second language which is ESL, but also to impress o n students the importance of maintaining their o w n cultural heritage. I was made to feel guilty for being Chinese and now there is a certain amount of guilt or shame that I don't speak Chinese. It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing w h e n y o u see high school kids w i t h blond hair and blue eyes speaking Japanese or Chinese. I feel that I've been gypped, and I feel guilty that I turned m y back on my o w n culture, not b y choice, but because of circumstances. A n d I can't even participate i n m y Chinese community because I feel like I'm an outsider. Most of the other people have the luxury of speaking English and Chinese, but I really envy that and if I were to participate... I know I'd be ostracized because I don't speak the language. A n d m y sense is that I turned my back on them i n the earlier days, so  88 w h y should I be allowed back into the Chinese community? This is one thing that, i n some ways I can't help; I am angry that when I was growing up there was just so much lacking i n terms of educational resources and services, and there wasn't that training to be sensitive to people w h o spoke other languages~and even their culture  89 Richard: Introduction The Interview Context A t about eleven o'clock on the sunny morning of September 5th, 1995,1 approached a townhouse co-operative that had always captured m y imagination. I had lived i n the neighbourhood while it was being built and I remembered thinking how beautiful it was, one of the first complexes built w i t h high ceilings, recessed balconies, and enormous windows. It was slightly less beautiful on the morning I first went to meet Richard. In many places the siding had been torn off the buildings, exposing rotted two-by-fours. M e n worked throughout the complex on new roofs, new balconies, and new framing, so the noises of hammering, sawing, falling lumber and shouting drowned out the more familiar sounds of seabirds, children and traffic. I was filled w i t h apprehension about meeting Richard. A l t h o u g h I had grown up i n an area w i t h a large First Nations' population, I had had virtually no contact w i t h First Nations people before. We had gone to different schools, lived i n different neighbourhoods, shopped i n different stores, had different interests. Later, while i n university, I was occasionally enrolled i n graduate courses w i t h one or two First Nations' students, but my experiences w i t h them were limited to academic discussions about classmates, profs, required readings and post-colonial theory. I greatly admired those students w h o m I had met, and was therefore consumed by the desire for Richard to also admire me. I felt that this was the most important life history, the one that w o u l d finally confront the us/them dichotomy that I had k n o w n all m y life. H a v i n g heard the w o r d at a peer's dissertation defense, I realize now that I was ready to be "bewitched" by my assumptions about First Nations' culture. I was predisposed to becoming enchanted by Richard, a man who, I already knew, was not only a Cree, but also a writer, an actor, and a poet—other spiritual manifestations that had already worked their magic on me.  90  Richard, long greying hair, bare feet, pitted complexion, dressed i n an Oka Tshirt and jeans,24 answered the door and welcomed me. The dining room we passed through was filled by a large desk and books, w i t h pages of foolscap covering every surface. The living room contained a sofa, dining table and chairs, small television, bookshelves, and a low table arranged so that, as Richard explained to me, the room became circular. Decorating the room were beaver skins, black and white portraits of First Nations' people, sweetgrass, driftwood, and a large Ukrainian w e d d i n g bread belonging to Richard's wife. I set up m y tape recorder, accepted a cup of coffee, and was immediately caught off guard w h e n Richard asked me how much the honorarium was that I had offered to all participants. I replied that it was fifty dollars. H e countered by saying that he could give me the best interviews of all the participants, but that he w o u l d do it for one hundred dollars. I said that was fine w i t h me—and it was. Richard then congratulated me for offering an honorarium, explaining that too many academics had studied First Nations' people extensively and never thought to give gifts. H e felt that m y gesture, and w i l l i n g acquiescence to his request, were a sign of respect and honour. Taken aback, uncomfortable, I thanked him. Of course, his comments ensured that I w o u l d never return to his home without bringing something w i t h me. To the next interview, I brought croissants, muffins and cinnamon buns for breakfast, and was permitted a little closer relationship, symbolized by m y being given a tour of the townhouse. To the next interview, I brought some Japanese beer and cigarettes that I had been given, explaining that he was the only smoker I knew. Richard, pleased, told me that tobacco was the most honoured gift i n Cree culture. A t the end of that interview he walked me to m y car, called me a friend, and hugged me. This continued  ^Richard later told me that he was often successful in landing acting jobs because he looked and sounded so much like an "Indian".  91 throughout our varied contacts. I think sometimes, perhaps to m y discredit, that I have been trying to apologize for hundreds of years of discrimination. Yet, I also feel that it is a reflection of how m u c h I love to give gifts to people—especially to people w h o are as appreciative as Richard. A n d then too, I feel reluctant to be seen as an exploiter; I want to give something back, even if I can only afford tokens. It was at a particularly interesting time i n British Columbia's history that Richard and I were negotiating his life history. In the fall of 1995, a little-known spot i n the province's interior, Gustafson Lake,25  w a  s featured daily on the front pages of  the newspaper. A group of First Nations' peoples from Canada and the United States had gathered for an annual Sundance ceremony on land owned by an American rancher. A t the completion of the ceremony, several of the Sundancers refused to leave the land, arming themselves, and setting up camp. The Royal Canadian M o u n t e d Police set up barricades to try to force them out. The situation grew steadily worse as sides were taken throughout the province, and shots were exchanged. M y reaction was intense and indicative of my o w n cultural biases: "Just leave them alone, y o u American bully. You're not using the land right now; they're not hurting anybody. Besides, what arrogance leads y o u to believe that vast tracts of land can be privately owned?" M y reaction was not the dominant one. Each time I arrived at Richard's home, it was to find h i m watching the news for information about the standoff. H e mentioned that I should phone h i m prior to each scheduled interview because he might go to join his brothers at Gustafson. While Richard and I were meeting, the situation was settled "peacefully", meaning that the First Nations' peoples were arrested and charged without loss of life.  26  Although most of our discussions about Gustafson Lake and other land claims took place off tape, I am certain that the emotional intensity/rancor of some of Richard's ^Richard pronounced this Goo-staf-son, and usually he did not say "Lake". In May, 1997, it was determined that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had acted with unnecessary force in the Gustafson Lake incident. The Sundancers were convicted and jailed. 26  92 statements was intensified by the situation, particularly as it grew more acute, around the time of our September 19th interview: I don't k n o w w h o said this,~Byron I think he said "Oh, the English,27 the British, they think the rules of their tribe should be the laws of the universe", right? and there's a lot stated i n that, right? Because I, as a Cree—although I w o u l d laugh about it, what he is saying—there's a lot of truth i n that humour, and that's the difference i n how we look at worlds right? In our w o r l d , the native man, the Cree man, looks at his w o r l d i n terms of the totality without breaking it up into fragments...whereas the English man w o u l d look at even his language as providing a tool for ulterior motives perhaps, like law, British law...if y o u make it complicated enough you can absolve yourself of a lot of what you do. (September 19th, 1995, p. 7) English is a very w i l y language, y o u know, and I think treaties bear that out—any k i n d of agreement w i t h the Englishmen, bears that out, w i t h the British. W i l y , you know, like a coyote, like a trickster language I w o u l d call it....And I think that the English m a n is like that a lot. Y o u can't trust~you know, he's breaking every treaty he's ever made, y o u know, and I'm not just talking about the English man, I'm talking about the Canadian legal system, which is implicated by its adoption of the English common law. Y o u could sign an agreement knowing full well that you're entitled to break it~and it's like that....And we k n o w very well what we're doing is not w o r t h the paper it's written on right? A n d they know very w e l l that what they're doing is not worth the paper it's written on, so~who's the more honourable man? (September 19th, 1995, pp. 7-8) Gustafson Lake, y o u know, the rules the Canadian law makers, the rules they've set up don't apply to us. Because y o u can't take a nation and make it into a city state, and treat it i n the context of subjectivity. Y o u can't do that, and that's what's happening, right? (September 19th, 1995, p.11) A n d we have to define the boundaries and parameters of jurisdiction of each of the communities that live i n Canada before~you know, you don't go selling land you steal, you know. I mean, how absurd a notion that is right? O r y o u don't tell me that what you're going to give me of m y land....The whole legal system was premised on the needs of only the conquerors right? In a democracy, the system is also  ^^Richard usually referred to dominant Canadian society as "the British", and to all English speakers as "the English man". He does not recognize Canada, or the Canadian national anthem, though he does acknowledge "God Save the Queen".  93 premised on the needs of the conquered, you know? Quote, unquote. We've never been conquered. We've never been slaves. W h y do we have to act conquered? (September 19th, 1995, p. 21) Richard's rancor made me feel ashamed. I wanted to object to his use of "you" and have h i m substitute "they". M y people, w h o were not really m y people because they d i d not represent m y heritage nor m y views, had basically entered into local war w i t h his people, w h o were not really his people either, but another sympathetic nation. Ironically, i n one interview, Richard explained that it was the English language that "brought native people together", because the English language gave the First Nations' people i n N o r t h America "a common tongue", while, "in the o l d days", Richard w o u l d not have been able to communicate w i t h the members of other nations (September 12th, 1995, pp. 5-6), a phenomenon that Lanoue (1991) has referred to as "Pan Indianism" (p. 93; see literature review above). During each of our interviews, Richard sat back on the sofa, coffee cup between his feet o n the floor, sometimes leaning back, sometimes forward, always running his right hand through his hair. I sat facing h i m at the dining room table on a slippery wooden chair w h i c h necessitated m y changing positions frequently as different parts of m y anatomy became numb. Our interviews were never less than three hours long, during w h i c h time I probably spoke fewer than ten minutes. Although I tried to limit the amount of speaking I d i d i n all of the life history interviews, concentrating instead on attentive listening, I spoke least of all w i t h Richard. Some may accuse me of "losing control" of the interview context; however, as I wrote i n m y journal: [Richard] is what I w o u l d call a great interview. One question...twenty minutes of "rambling". H e seems to enter a trance-like state that I have no desire to interrupt. I don't think that allowing people to ramble is i n any way dangerous. They are answering m y questions i n their o w n way, i n their o w n time, and they are answering their o w n questions as well. I think that if I feel they are rambling, it's because I'm not understanding. I think that this view comes from a really limited position. If I feel they are off-topic, then I have an agenda that I'm  94 imposing, and a view of their lives and loss that may not be compatible w i t h theirs. M y husband has told me i n the past that I have a very strong "my pace", a characteristic w h i c h is antithetical to the notion of interview as I see it. (September 23rd, 1995) During interviews, I work hard to suspend "my pace" and adapt to another's. In Richard's case, I needed to learn to "flow i n Indian time" (September 5th, 1995, p. 17) and wait. During our first interview together, Richard specifically requested that I not use a pseudonym for h i m because it was very important that First Nations' peoples' experiences be recorded and claimed. During our second interview however, I began by asking for a "rounder sense" of his family and his life, to w h i c h he replied that he w o u l d need "to revert back to being anonymous" (September 12th, 1995, p. 1). H e alternated between the two positions so that I was never sure whether to use a pseudonym or not. In the end, I chose to use a pseudonym i n order to protect Richard, his family, and his community, from any mistakes that I might make. The Life History Context N o w forty-eight years o l d , an age of w h i c h he seems sometimes unsure, Richard was born the son of a Rock Cree trapper and a highly-respected midwife i n V a n River, a town of about 1500 i n northern Manitoba. H e was the second youngest i n the family. Richard explained that he came from a family of ...originally eleven children, five boys—seven boys actually—and four girls, and we are now seven of us, and three of m y brothers have died through a very common disease at that time—but they were so helpless, y o u know, like smallpox, or not smallpox, measles I believe, or maybe smallpox, w h o knows? (September 12th, 1995, pp. 1-2) Three of his brothers died before he was born, he thinks, because he can't remember them at all. That left his family w i t h seven children, three boys, and four girls. H e didn't say what happened to the other missing brother. I was particularly intrigued by Richard's inclusion of deceased siblings i n his family, especially given that he neither remembered them, nor recalled what exactly caused their deaths. This  95 seemed very important to me, and made me feel connected to his mother w h o must have kept alive the memory of her dead children. There was a wide range i n ages among the children i n Richard's family, therefore they all "grew up i n separate eras" (ibid., p. 2). Most of the children, particularly the elder children, had a "very minimal education", about two years of formal schooling. H i s eldest brother, for example, who, Richard claims, is the most intelligent person i n the family, went to school for two years and then turned to trapping like his father. Three of his sisters and one brother went to a sanitarium for TB where "they got into the educational thing" (ibid., p. 2), his brother becoming a master carpenter, his sisters all entering "the helping fields" (ibid., p. 3) as medicine women, healers, and carers. Richard insists that all of the family except himself, his younger brother, and the youngest of the sisters, were self-educated. I believe, given the professions he describes, that he means they apprenticed themselves o n the reserve instead of leaving to enter formal educational institutions. The three youngest children left V a n River and entered the residential school system. Richard explained that his father had "a lot of foresight i n terms of society and where it was headed" (ibid., p. 3), and he knew that trapping, fishing and hunting weren't going to be viable options i n the younger children's lives. H i s father foresaw the day when they w o u l d be living i n cities, i n apartments and townhouses, and insisted that they go to school. Richard first started school on the reserve, a school w h i c h went up to grade six. He attended grades one and two i n the Catholic school system on the reserve, and then went on to residential school. The V a n River Catholic school system had been r u n for forty years b y one teacher w h o had built up a reputation and trust w i t h the people, despite being "set i n his o w n ways of elitism from his French background" (ibid., p. 6). The teacher chose the best and the brightest students—including Richard—to send out to different residential schools, "almost like to compete or to show" (ibid., p. 6), as if the students were  96 championship horse stock. Of course, Richard explained, all the students were curious to leave the community to see what was outside and so they all wanted to go to residential school. They could see that the returning children were different somehow, and they all wondered "when is it going to be m y turn to go out, and how w i l l it affect me?" (ibid., p. 7) Richard later commented, however, that the luckiest ones were the ones that didn't go anywhere to this day....And they're the ones that prospered, and gained from the whole situation, and thrived i n our culture, because culturally, spiritually, as men and women, as parents, as providers, and so on,~they had it the best. They had the right upbringing. Their parents were there. They had role models. They had the training for their livelihood. They had love, support systems, and so on, everything the guys that went w i t h us didn't have, or the guys that went out lost out on. Right? A n d - b u t that's the w a y it was. That was the reality, and that's still the reality of it today, and I have no complaints about that. I survived that. I worked around it. I'm going to outlive a lot of it, a lot of the degradation and humiliation a lot of those people...put us through, that I'm going to outlive them by sheer force of stubbornness and w i l l . (September 12th, 1995, pp. 7) I still maintain that those guys that stayed home are the lucky ones because they never had anything taken away first of all, and then they never had to question the value of it, because they lived its value every day....How undignified one lives without the values of one's culture, one's upbringing~or~that's w h y I consider those guys lucky~and girls, women, men and women, that didn't leave the community to go to school, because they were shown how to be good human beings, and I had to search how to be a good human being. I wasted a lot—not wasted—but, I suffered a lot i n that search.... (September 12th, 1995, pp. 17-18) Richard continued i n residential school and made a life for himself outside the reserve. H e claims not to have finished high school until he was about twentythree years old, dropping out at least three times, and then dropping out of "some of the best universities i n the country", by getting "sidetracked...by the situation as far as native people were concerned i n the early 70s" (September 5th, 1995, p. 13). H e became politicized, and, while i n college, worked summers for the U n i o n of British Columbian Chiefs i n public relations. H e later became an activist, worked for the  97 Manitoba government as a policy analyst, and became involved as government liaison i n Ottawa, "always i n relation to the Indian Movement" (ibid., p. 14). A t the age of twenty-three, he began thinking that he was old, and that he needed to settle d o w n and get married. H e married an urban-raised Sauteaux Metis woman. For seven years he lived thinking "I might as well stay where I am now. Here I am, so I might as well stay there because this is all I know"; that's all of life I knew. That's the only way I knew how to survive, was to go to work 8 to 5, or 9 to 4, the case at that time, and live for the weekend, I guess, and live for the holidays, and live for the spaces among the business, and then one day I just decided "well this is bullshit man", y o u know? "This is really bullshit; there isn't fuck-all here", you know? (September 12th, 1995, p. 11) Feeling unfulfilled, k n o w i n g nothing about his spiritual practices, or his stories or his history, or his language, and married to a w o m a n whose priorities were a house i n the suburbs, picket fences, children and security, Richard became tormented and decided to go home to V a n River. Breaking up was, he said, "one of the wisest things we ever d i d as two people i n love, and perhaps the only wise thing we ever d i d i n our marriage" (September 5th, 1995, p. 19). After returning to the reserve, Richard intended to go to law school, but, when a cousin decided to r u n for chief and offered h i m a job, he stayed. H e assumed that it was going to be easy to relearn his language and reacquaint himself w i t h his culture, but he found that it took more than five years, even though he claims that all Cree children know their entire language by the age of eight, the age at w h i c h he left the reserve. Interestingly, Richard commented to me that, had he not relearned his language, he w o u l d never have been able to participate i n m y research project. H e only understood what losing a language meant because he had re-learned it, and thus realized what he had lost. Richard eventually became involved i n formulating reserve education policy at the time when they implemented schooling i n Cree from kindergarten to Grade  98 12, because "studies have found that a person learns faster i n their o w n language" (September 5th, 1995, p. 8). Yet, it didn't seem to me that research studies w o u l d have had too m u c h bearing on the decision, given that he alluded to a controversy over the policy, saying "how could it be right or beneficial if we thought of it, right?~now if an English man found it, how could it not be right or beneficial?" (September 5th, 1995, p. 8). I felt that the decision had come first, the justification second, a feeling that was backed up when Richard explained to me that his people believe that all decisions w i l l affect the next seven generations, and bad decisions, such as treaties, become crises i n the seventh generation. W h e n he stated that "I'm sure six generations ago, someone must have thought ' O h well, y o u know, it's going to be a global society, so people have to learn English, the English way....'" (September 5th, 1995, p. 5), I came to understand that the policy w h i c h Richard worked on was changed i n order to avert a potential impending crisis. In fact, Richard later commented that a proper education w o u l d have been to learn to be a trapper, and to learn the ways of his ancestors, but also: I should never have been taken away to be educated. I should have stayed home to be educated. N o w , my~the real practical aspect of that same idea is to have been educated right i n the community, speaking my language, but also learning, having traditional education, traditional as meant by the school system, public school education. But i n m y language. A public school education i n m y language, i n m y home, w i t h m y people. W i t h m y o w n teachers, native teachers. Like the w a y it is now, right? (September 19th, 1995, p. 20) This belief extends to Richard's o w n children. During m y first interview w i t h Richard, he received a telephone call from V a n River about his eldest son w h o wanted to live w i t h h i m and go to a school i n Oceancity. In that way, I became aware that he was a parent. Although he didn't mention his children to me while the tape was rolling, I was curious to know whether he had ensured his o w n children were developing i n the Cree language, so I asked him. H i s two daughters are developing i n their mothers' native tongues—Ojibway, and the Dene language,  99 Chippewan—while his sons are all Cree and being brought up i n Cree. Telling me that, having had no role models while away i n residential school, he was "not the greatest parent i n the world" (September 12th, 1995, p. 3), Richard explained that therefore all his children were being raised, at least i n part, b y their grandparents, because grandparents have the time and the language to share w i t h them. It is very important to h i m that all his children know their languages: "They have to have a solid base first i n that language i n order to have a solid base i n life...." (September 19th, 1995, p. 5). Richard remained on the reserve for sixteen years, relearning his language, learning the spiritual aspect of being Cree, and working for the community. Two years before I met him, he chose to leave V a n River again. The simple reason, he said, was that he left for love, to be w i t h his girlfriend i n B. C. The more complex reason was that he had come to a "watershed" i n his career, having finished making a contribution to his community as a leader and a council member. H e had talked for years of becoming an actor and writing a book, and so he decided it was time to "be a writer, and starve~or prosper" (September 12th, 1995, p. 12). The Narrative Context Richard was one of three people I worked w i t h w h o came from oral cultures; the other two were Lara (Finnish) and W i l l i a m (Welsh). Interviewing Richard, Lara, and W i l l i a m was completely different from working w i t h other story-tellers. Their initial undirected life stories were longer and more detailed than average, while each question I asked w o u l d act as a catalyst for more stories, ideas or opinions. They each seemed to have an understanding of "life history interview" as opposed to "interview", and although their definitions differed one from another and from mine, they worked at their narratives as craft. Despite their dominance or monolingualism i n English, they all appeared to use speech or story traditions from the L I .  100 In Richard's case, the most striking linguistic feature was his extensive use of metaphoric and poetic language, a property that is evident i n his life story, and one w h i c h he associated w i t h the Cree language. In this quotation, w h i c h I find moving, Richard was struggling w i t h what he saw as the confines of the English language, to explain to me the richness and descriptive power of Cree: Our language, the Cree language, my language, is a living, breathing entity as far as I'm concerned. It's another entity. It's~the language is m y landscape; that's where I live. It's not only a physical environment...,it's an expression of the spiritual. It's an expression of the higher man, of the higher being within us as a community. It's an expression of a totality of Cree, of one aspect of humanity. It strives to live and to prosper like we all do. It changes you w h e n y o u k n o w the language; it's a poetic experience, and sometimes it's an overwhelming experience....The Cree goes way back into the bush, i n our case, and it comes from the river. It comes from the fire, the earth, I think the rocks were started talking. I think it was given to us from the Creator through nature, how to speak their language. Y o u know? It's descriptive, y o u know? It's unique. It's like a rock. It's i n how it's shaped and what it does and how it looks, and it's i n the texture and it's i n the coldness of it, and the roundness and the smoothness of it. (September 5th, 1996, pp. 25-26) Another key characteristic of Richard's language was his playfulness w i t h the language. Several times during our interviews, Richard used foreign phrases that weren't quite correct (e.g., "my modus operate"), non-standard pronunciation of English words (e.g., "mollibility"), or he made up words (e.g., "empackaged"). I have chosen not to correct any of them i n light of one of his comments: For instance, i n the process of a conversation, i n English, I'll throw i n absurdities into it right? I'll use it backwards, or different. I'll use a w o r d ; I'll invent words....I like doing that because I get a joy of doing that. It's like a game right? It's like bouncing a ball. I like the English language. I like any language I use that I can be flexible and mollible [malleable] and I can bend it and bounce it the w a y I want it, off of whatever I want, whatever w a l l or ceiling or whatever right? Because I try to make it alive right? I try to make the English language as alive as the Cree language and that's hard. But, by inventing words and by inverting them, as long as I get close to the meaning, people w i l l know what you're talking about....I like throwing curves w h e n I speak right?  101  A n d especially English, it's easy to throw curves because y o u can find two words that have similar meanings or words that sound the same but are different...and it gives it more of a~more colour. (September 19th, 1996, p. 23) Of course, the d o w n side to Richard's non-standard English, w h i c h is magnified by non-standard intonation, § is that the English Richard speaks i n order to become "a 2  good little b r o w n white man" itself marks h i m as an outsider. This was something that Pye (1992) also noted i n his research into language loss amongst the Chilcotin. Pointing out that Chilcotin is the language of those families w h o "have not made it" (p. 79), but that Chilcotin children are not learning a standard dialect of English, he asks "Why...would the Chilcotin switch to a language that is no more acceptable to the dominant culture than Chilcotin?" (p. 84). Yet, Richard's case is even more complex. H e never spoke English w i t h his parents and only for a short period of time w i t h his siblings. H i s only contacts w i t h English came from reserve school, residential school, and government w o r k where, presumably, standard English was modeled. N o t wanting to point out to h i m that his English pronunciation and intonation were non-standard, I d i d not ask h i m whether it was conscious, like a form of rebellion, or unconscious. A particularly interesting narrative feature i n this story is that Richard is a natural story-teller; he was one of a minority of participants w h o d i d not speak directly to me, or even look at me, but instead seemed to enter into a k i n d of trance and soliloquize. O d d l y enough, the only other person who d i d this was William, the only other speaker of an endangered indigenous language. The result is that this story is the least-edited of all of the life stories. While i n other stories, I found it necessary to change the narrative construction used by participants i n order to establish/maintain coherence, it was unnecessary i n this story.  28Qne of the most prominent intonation differences is that in two-word phrasal verbs, Richard always stresses the first rather than the second word. He would say "got strapped" rather than "got strapped".  102 Another interesting aspect of Richard's narrative is his uncertainty about his o w n family structure. A t various times, he seemed uncertain of his age, the number of siblings he had, and his relationships to people. The impression that he gave me was that his bonds w i t h other people appear tenuous. H e displayed a strong allegiance to "his people", meaning the Rock Cree, but showed little emotional attachment to his family, his children, his wives or his friends. Despite numerous promptings, Richard told few stories about his life on the reserve, his time i n residential school, his life as an activist, his work as an actor, his relationships. Instead, he tended to relate expository narrative and opinion, always i n relation to himself. I found myself wondering what role language had to play i n this. H a d the loss of his language and culture i n residential school broken the primary bonds w i t h his family, as he hints at various times? H a d the fact that most of his relationships until the age of thirty necessitated second language communication inhibited close relationships w i t h them? Was he unable to tell me about the relationships w i t h his family because the relationships were i n his L I and he was speaking to me i n his L2? Again, not wanting to ask h i m an awkward question, I d i d not follow this line of questioning. A s a final comment about Richard's narrative, one of the most prominent recurring themes is the battle between good and evil. In Richard's narrative, the reserve and V a n River are good, while urban landscapes are evil. Speaking Cree is good; speaking English is evil. Education i n Cree is good; education i n English is evil. First Nations' customs are good; English-speakers' customs are evil. A n d yet, Richard is conflicted. By his o w n admission, he still wanted something that the reserve couldn't offer h i m , and so he left. H e still has "white w o r l d " aspirations, i n that he often spoke of material goods that he wanted to possess, despite his frequent assertions that such things had no meaning i n his life. I feel that this is very much tied to his language loss. W i t h the English language came a host of ambitions and  103 expectations. H e writes i n English; he acts i n English; he conducts his business life i n English. H a v i n g now been successful i n English as an activist, and having achieved success i n Cree i n V a n River, he has now returned to the w o r l d outside the reserve i n order to try to achieve success i n another capacity—as an actor, a poet, and a writer of English.  104 Richard's Story: English is a full-time job I'm a full-blooded Cree Indian, raised i n V a n River i n northern Manitoba. I went to residential school at an early age. First of all, where I went to school, m y first experience w i t h languages other than Cree was from m y sisters w h o were a bit older, had already been to school for a couple of years, and they said it was really important that we were prepared before we went to school to know the English language, plus some of the things to expect i n school, such as the alphabet, numbers. So, they took it upon themselves—one sister i n particular—to teach us English, numbers. So she taught me this unusual strange language, and so b y the time I got to school, I was already ahead of other students, because they were all other Cree students, but, having a basis of the language, I was able to articulate m y thoughts; I was able to tell the colours, could count to a hundred and so on and so forth. M y family is a really intelligent people, and being as I was always considered a bright person, it was expected of me more or less [that I w o u l d do well]. The school I went to ...was conducted by a French gentleman from southern Ontario w h o believed ...in total immersion. [He believed] that a person, i n order to learn a language, had to speak and only hear that language, so that was m y case i n his school. W e were encouraged to speak only English, i n the schoolyard, i n the classroom, all over, so we d i d that, and so I learned the English language quite easily and quite fast because everybody else was speaking it, and we were reading it—as soon as I learned how to read—and what I found was I enjoyed it. I enjoyed English. It was an adventure i n a new language. Everybody had impressed on me, my folks included, m y brothers, m y sisters, everybody, how important it was going to be for me to k n o w the English language because it was going to be the universal language of m y life and also the language of non-native people and the outside world.  105 M y older sister Shaney, she was the boss, so whatever Shaney said, that's what happened. Shaney said " N o w we speak English". She was the one that taught me as a baby to learn English. She insisted "If you're going to do something you do it well. If you're going to learn the English language, you're going to learn the English language well. Because that what's gonna determine your success or lack of it". So she took it u p o n herself to give us the English world. For a while, us kids, we w o u l d talk to our sister i n Cree, but it was not encouraged. It was not discouraged either but it became almost an appendage, useless.  29  W e communicated i n our  language until the point where the English language overcomes the Cree; it's like being buried b y an avalanche. A l l of sudden the avalanche happens. A l l of the English words fall on you and you die. The Cree dies for a while. The Cree is never dead, the Cree w i l l never be dead, but the language becomes less important. So I learned the language and I became fluent. I liked school. I liked reading. I liked stories. I liked storytelling; I liked writing, as soon as I learned how to write I loved it. A n d it seemed that English was a magical transformation; it was like entering a new w o r l d for me. A n d it was an adventure. A n d I had no qualms about it. Y o u k n o w I had no prejudicial thoughts about race or nationalism, so it was no problem. Reflecting on what I had read about residential schools (e.g. '"we'd get a lot of strapping'...already hungry children were denied meals, forced to remain with their arms outstretched in a 'push-up' position until they collapsed, and encouraged to inform on other students" [Gresco, 1996, p. 19]), I asked Richard if he had ever been encouraged to give up Cree. The only active discouragement he recalled happened in Van River: Nobody has ever suggested that. But I think it was done indirectly through a lot of people have done it indirectly, a lot of educators, teachers,-Canadians. You know, like, my~by penalizing my Cree, or my Cree over the English right? By ridicule when I was younger, when I was child, 'cause I spoke Cree. It's a good way to make us all forget the language pretty fast and niinirnizing it is~well that I'm used to because always my culture has been nunimized by the so-called~dorninant society-. And the one teacher when I first started back home in grade school~we had to speak [English] in the classroom and in the yard, in the immediate vicinity of the school, but not once you left that boundary. And the rationale for that guy was that when we left that community it was going to be an English world sure enough right? And I heard that you got strapped if you spoke your language at that time. I never~I never got strapped because I didn't speak my language in the classroom. I was very careful about that right? Because I had never been strapped so I didn't know what it was about right? And I certainly didn't want to find out. (September 19th, 1995, p. 22) 29  106 A n d then I went to a residential school, where Cree was a minority. M y language, m y Cree people there, were a minority. Aside from the Cree there was Ojibway, Sauteaux people, Sioux people, and so they outnumbered us by quite a bit. A n d the fact that everybody talked a different language there, it was more convenient for everybody to speak English, to communicate. W e had to speak English i n order to make friends and it got to a point there I started speaking only English at a very early age, eight or nine years old, and English became m y life, m y modus operate. W h e n we were only Cree together, we talked our language to hear it right? W e made each other happy by talking our o w n tongue, but then if somebody else w o u l d join the group, maybe a Sauteaux or Sioux, and we'd start the whole thing of speaking English again for our friends. It was a matter of integrity. There's a lot of honour to be maintained and part of the honour of our society is to make people feel comfortable, and so that's w h y we'd all speak the common language. W e all eventually adopted English as a full time job. It never occurred to me then, and things didn't occur to me like "Well should I save m y language?", "I should not lose m y language", because w h e n you're at that age, when you're a k i d , it's secondary to play for instance, or making friends, or having adventures. It's secondary to a lot of things. One thing I remember was m y favorite teacher, she told me "don't ever forget the language, because that other language of yours makes y o u like two men". A n d how true that is. That's how I feel now. But, we weren't so prejudiced and conditioned to have adult thoughts, so, we just went about. I just went about and reveled i n the English language. I became quite articulate at an early age because of reading. Because I loved reading, and I was a writer already at that age. I liked stories; I liked making up stories, doing literature. For the next, well I don't know how long, till I was about 30,1 was speaking English, because, after that, I kept going back to school every year. W h e n you're i n  107 residential school y o u have very minimal contact w i t h your family till summer. Y o u don't go home for ten months. Y o u get letters from your family but they're i n English, because y o u don't know how to read Cree. W h e n I was a k i d I didn't know how to read the Cree syllabics,30 so m y m o m and dad w o u l d get someone, one of my brothers, one of m y sisters, a friend, a nephew, or whatever, and say "okay well sit d o w n we're going to write a letter to Richard, and this is what I want to say and you write it down". So I took m y letters and I answer back i n English and ask someone to interpret them for m y folks back home. There was no contact; there was no phone calls, y o u know.... your family became not your family anymore. They became the people "back home". N o matter how much y o u love them, or care about your family, y o u are literally taken from your parents and put i n this strange environment and that becomes your world. It's being totally removed, being totally isolated from anything resembling culture or language. Y o u become, for all intents and purposes, of the system, a b r o w n white man. A b r o w n white man. That's what they want to make you. The dominant belief at that time was "well for the Indians to succeed they've got to learn the language; they've got to assimilate; they've got to become white".  31  A n d that's what the residential school system was. It was the  politics of destruction essentially, as far as I'm concerned. One day everything is there, the next day everything is gone, and then there's no communication w i t h the parents until the next summer and then y o u have summer holidays and then you're back home, but y o u don't speak the language anymore because all your peers, yourself, you're speaking English, you're communicating i n English, but you do understand Cree. I shouldn't say you don't speak the language, I mean, y o u don't forget your language i n one year. Y o u don't forget your language for several years. A t school y o u communicate w i t h your Sioux friends, your Ojibway friends, and so  30Apparently, Richard still does not read the Cree syllables, nor can he understand High Cree. Richard adopted a clipped British accent to express this idea, acting in a paternal fashion by looking down his nose and raising his chin. 31  108 on i n English, and y o u begin to accept that as a fact of life. Y o u don't question it. You're a k i d , a teenager; you have too many other things you're questioning to worry about language. A t home, i n the summer, everybody knew English so we didn't have any problems speaking or communicating. D i d have problems w i t h attitude. We were told that w e ' d become arrogant; we'd become non-listeners. In native society you learn through example and through listening, but we lost that i n the process of education I think. A n d w h e n we went home, our parents—not just mine, m y friends' too—they'd say "There's something w r o n g w i t h you. Y o u don't listen to us anymore. Y o u don't listen to the good things around us right. You're stubborn." Stubbornness is what became a problem. We became stubborn toward our o w n parents, our o w n language, our o w n tradition. We became whiplashed; we succumbed. We had a lousy attitude; we became rotten kids. We were beautiful kids before that, and then we became rotten because we had other models now. We had outside ways, and they were not necessarily good for traditional models. But i n some ways y o u k n o w we retained our communication i n Cree. I mean I'm not saying that everybody o n the reserve all of a sudden spoke English, at a certain age, or a certain period, but I'm saying that English was an easy form of communication, it was almost a lazy form of communication as far as we were concerned; we didn't have to think any more, us kids. We communicated i n English because it was easy; it was like play as opposed to the seriousness of Cree. W h e n y o u spoke, when you worked, when y o u had to communicate i n Cree, it was a serious matter. Y o u had to be serious because this is your culture; this is your tradition. Everything was empackaged i n the Cree, but English was a frivolous thing. It was frivolous, and you didn't have to worry about offending the saints and the heroes of the Cree w o r l d b y speaking English, because there were no saints or heroes i n the English language.  109 So, when y o u had gone to school, Cree w o u l d have been natural, but after you began school, y o u lost that ease. I don't know if it's sociological; it's symptomatic of something 'cause w h e n we got back the kids y o u grew up with, the ones that hadn't gone to school yet—everybody was always wanting to go to school,—those kids became almost distant, like you had formed new kinship, new relationships w i t h other kids. It's like getting up, going out the door, and ten months later y o u appear at the door again and the people inside the house are like "Where'd he go? W h y has he changed? What happened to the poor kid?" They couldn't understand us, not just i n language, but they couldn't understand the transformation of what happened to us, w h y all of a sudden we had many different priorities and different outlook; I don't know. I've never been o n the other side so I couldn't say. Someday I'll write about it and figure it out, but it was not easy anymore to be Cree. I think we h i d behind the English language too. Because it was not easy to admit that y o u had become an uncultured, uncivilized, person. It was not easy to admit that y o u had lost the most precious thing y o u ever had, w h i c h is your Cree tongue, your Cree soul, your Cree language, your culture. It was not an easy thing, even as a k i d , to realize that something happened: "What the hell happened? H o w do I deal w i t h that?" So you deal w i t h it by speaking English, and that w a y y o u don't have to face the hurt of the loss. Y o u k n o w that's just my o w n personal opinion, but thinking about it, i n retrospect, you hide behind the language of the dominant society for a while. The ease w i t h w h i c h we could offer our heart by way of language wasn't there anymore, so we choose to use an unfeeling language. 32  ^Richard explained what he meant by an unfeeling language: "For me anything that does not depend on its oral history or oral communication is pretty well dead; English happens to be one of those languages because you can write English down and a page is dead, you know and the writing, computer board, is a dead language, it's a visual, it's visual as opposed to heart, as opposed to oral is not an exchange anymore; it's a one-way communication. Whereas in oral there has to be an exchange; your language is alive as you're speaking it, in the same sense as you're alive as you're  110 I don't k n o w where their heads were but their priority was to educate these Indian kids, these children, to educate them, to make them forget their language and their culture, to make them everything... forget everything that they ever learned that was beautiful so they can become something else. Y o u know, y o u can all of a sudden become contributing members of society as ... as our society wasn't considered a contribution. It was, I think, for me, the residential school system, and the whole question was it was the politics of destruction pure and simple, but it failed. It was something that failed, that didn't happen, we're still here, we're stronger than ever and we'll never be destroyed you know; I know that. A n d language, the question of language was just one of the things used to do that. But that didn't w o r k either. We're still here and I still know m y language, m y o w n mother tongue just as well as I know English right? Y o u shame people away from their language, you shame them into speaking yours, y o u know? Y o u become ashamed to k n o w an ancient dying language, Cree. It's like being ashamed of how you're dressed y o u know? Y o u want to dress like everybody else, except for sure your shirt w i l l have a patch and your knees w i l l be poking through. So you try to take off these garments and put them away or burn them, or out of sight out of m i n d , and put on new garments. I put o n a tie, a white shirt, and your skin, sheepskin, and so on, but you're very susceptible, because you haven't really made up your m i n d about this—other people are i n the process of making up your m i n d about it. So you just go on lies, thinking you're cool because you speak English, you're cool because you don't speak Cree anymore. It's better because now you're white, right? We're apples w h i c h means red on the outside and white on the inside, right? A n d it's still happening. People want to live i n big  using it and the communication is instantaneous. You're living the language and in English you're not living the language. In English you're putting the language down in history books for posterity for instance, or to put up on the bookshelf, and English has its beauty, but it has its limitations, and that's one of them." (September 5th, 1995, p. 11)  Ill suburban houses w i t h white picket fences and two incomes, two cars and all the latest gadgets; it still happens. M y people still want to be white, but we didn't identify it as being white; we identified it as being different. A t a young age, it's a gas to be different. It's cool. The thing to be is to be different. A d o p t i n g another language was just something about being different. People looked at y o u i n a different way, admired you because you knew English, because y o u dressed a certain way, because y o u went to an exotic place to school far away. It was an innocent acceptance w i t h a very major consequence w i t h the Cree language, because you were just armed w i t h the awareness of innocent children, put into a system that tried destroying us, and you either go w i t h the flow and get destroyed there, or y o u get lost i n the flow. W h e n I left school I entered the business w o r l d for a career. I lived i n cities. I married a non-Cree woman, a non-Cree speaker, and so I didn't hear...[pause]...well I heard, m y friends w o u l d visit and they'd talk a bit of Cree, but usually even the friends from home, everybody, spoke English. Y o u know we spoke English as a means of communication, because it was the handiest thing; y o u didn't have to think "what's the w o r d for such and such i n Cree?". A n d we didn't realize what we were losing, or the hazard we were getting into by not speaking our language because it was impressed upon us that you had to speak English i n order to succeed, i n order to know what was going on i n the world. English was it. English was the w o r l d , my w o r l d , m y friend's world. So none of these things [that] have transpired between the age of 8 to the age of 30 was any help as far as the retaining of my o w n language, because y o u know for everybody it seemed to be the going thing. Y o u know, get an education, go out and work, live i n an English w o r l d w i t h non-native people, and your o w n language, your o w n culture and so on, your o w n people were farremoved; [they] lived on the reserve and were up i n northern Manitoba, i n a different w o r l d from the immediate experience.  112 Not only that, but I also became a writer, a poet and a writer, and I reveled i n the English language. I fell i n love w i t h the English language because of its complexity, its mollibility [malleability], its preciseness. One of the first things I remember as a k i d [is] thinking "well this is a neat language; y o u learn x number of words, y o u put them together i n a certain way, insert them into a paragraph, and then you can play w i t h them, juggle them around, and have different thoughts and assert them"—there was so m u c h you could do w i t h the English language because it was a written language as opposed to an oral language: "Now I w i l l also have the means of transmitting m y thoughts to a written page". It was exciting and I could make up things. I could make up a fantasy through the English language, and that's exactly what I d i d so it became a second skin; it was so natural. I had no thought of I was getting r i d of anything else i n relation to the implications of forgetting m y o w n language, or [what] I like to think as a leaving the language for a while. See, I didn't think I'd forget m y language; that's what happened. I didn't forget it; I figured "okay I have this Cree language, I'll always think i n Cree,...I'll never forget the language". I mean it was m y body, m y soul, m y spirit, how can I forget a language that's so beautiful, that I was born with? So it never occurred to me that I could forget it. I always thought later "okay it's i n abeyance, and once I go home and am back w i t h m y people, it w i l l come back naturally". A n d that was not to be the case I found. Later on, when I went home at the age of thirty, I formed a thought i n m y m i n d of something I want to say i n Cree, and I w o u l d try saying it and draw a blank, or, at the least, form the language i n m y mind, say it, but it w o u l d come out different. A n d I was frustrated, but now I'm fluent again, i n m y language, and so m y language died for a while; between the ages of 8 and 30, for all intents and purposes, it died. It was gone; it was i n the ether. I came back and I re-adopted m y language; it was not so much a re-learning because i n your m i n d y o u never forget the language, but i n the speaking  it doesn't work  113 out. Y o u do forget y o u k n o w / l i k e you do forget what words mean, y o u come to pronounce them and something else comes out. So, at 30 years of age, I went home, 'cause by that time I had gained a lot of experience i n the field I was going to enter. I had worked i n a lot of places, so it was time to go home and contribute some of my o w n education, m y o w n knowledge, my expertise, o n behalf of m y people. W h e n I went back, it was not as simple as I thought it w o u l d be. I mean I thought, "I'm a Cree man, born of a Cree soul, and that's never lost and nobody can kill that, and I'll just stretch away from the English. N o w the English language dies, and then the Cree language lives and I'll continue from there", but that was not to be the case, unfortunately. I remember, w h e n I went back, the first few times as a leader, w h e n I had to speak i n front of a group of people i n Cree because they were m y people. A n d the words came out really funny. People laughed and joked about it because I was not a Cree speaker; I was an educated man. I represented education to them, so I'm trying to speak, I'm trying to bring up my ideas across to m y people, regarding the Northern Flood committee for instance—a referendum was to be held and I was i n charge. I had to speak i n front of a gymnasium of m y people to bring this idea across. There's no w o r d for referendum, first of all, i n Cree. There's a lot of thoughts i n Cree that have no equivalent i n English, and vice versa, and, not only that, but even i n the simplest basic Cree I'm mumbling, and I figure "Okay this is how you say it", then I'd come to say it and it comes out wrong. People laughed and I laughed because... but they're not laughing at me, they're laughing at the words that come out. They're laughing 'cause it sounds so funny, but they're not laughing at me as a person or me as a Cree; they're laughing at me because "Poor guy right? He doesn't know how to speak. He's illiterate right?" That's what's going on. I stumbled and I bluffed through. M y people, the elders, took it u p o n themselves: "okay well this k i d wants to get involved; he's half-ways bright, so let's give h i m a  114 hand". A n d they took it upon themselves to become m y mentors politically, as well as socially, as well as language, w h i c h is the culture y o u know? They taught me, not i n the sense of "Well this is how y o u say that word" but teaching me...for example, the first thing I learned w h e n I went home was that I was too aggressive and I was too m u c h i n a hurry. I learned to be less i n a hurry; I learned to flow i n "Indian time" meaning "the right time is w h e n it happens". In teaching me these things, they're always teaching me i n Cree right, because it's the only language they speak. A lot of elders, m y parents included, they can understand the English language but they never speak it. There was no w a y they were going to succumb to another nation by speaking English to them. I imagine it w o u l d be like a defeat and they were not a defeated people. They were not a conquered people, so there was no w a y they were going to speak as a conquered people, like I do. Then, over time, I learned i n my soul the Cree thoughts and the Cree spirituality, Cree philosophies by how they spoke to me, by kindness, and w i t h love and w i t h understanding and w i t h patience, or forgiveness right? They forgave me the fact that I lived until the age of 30 and forgot about m y people. I never came back. I never contributed anything till I was thirty. It took me about two seconds to be comfortable w i t h the Cree, but about five years to become comfortable w i t h speaking i n public. I didn't say a w o r d until I was sure—unless I was standing i n front and a hundred people were looking at me because I'm public speaking—then I have no choice. I stumbled through though, and, by the time I left, I was one of the most articulate leaders i n the community. In the Cree language. In those years that I was back home I became very articulate, not because I made a point of it, but because people took the time, the patience, the understanding, the love to give me back m y language. They loved me enough to give me back m y language, and for me it was an act of love, but also an act of war. I went back because there was a war between my people and the rest of Canadian  115 society, and this war had to be fought w i t h words right? I became a warrior of ideology through language. I was picked to do that somehow. I don't think I was picked to be a great leader or a great problem solver, but I was picked to deal i n language. I'm only a messenger; I bridge ideologies and races. I'm a go-between; I offer ideas back and forth. A n d I needed to do that, to fulfill myself, to become whole again, to become a whole man. I had to do that, so I went and d i d it. So, I was immersed again for the next 16 years back into m y community and I became a Cree speaker again because everybody around me was a Cree person; everybody spoke Cree; we thought i n Cree, we laughed i n Cree, we cried i n Cree, we loved i n Cree, we died i n Cree; everything was i n Cree and it was fantastic. It was great. It was like falling i n love again w i t h an o l d lover, but a true love. A n d English, what's English? English is nothing anymore. English is something that you use at w o r k to communicate i n the form of the written page again. English was something we all paraded around w i t h when I got back home again for eight hours a day, and then we were back to Cree. English was a business thing. English was how you spoke to bureaucrats and business people, how y o u communicated, throughout the day at the office w i t h those people w h o meant anything to your function, and then w h e n you left at five o'clock, y o u were Cree. Different m i n d set. Totally different w a y of looking at things i n Cree as opposed to English. English became inadequate w h e n I started speaking Cree again back home, because, y o u know, coming from an oral tradition, being an oral people, Cree was where it was at. Cree could accommodate the Cree wants and needs more than English could. English became lacking; it was not as colourful; it was not as useful; it was dry. Cree became a more colourful w o r l d , became a more precise world. Y o u could describe things i n Cree y o u couldn't describe i n English. The language, my tongue, my Cree tongue is like another person; it does things that another person w o u l d do. If you're not using it, it w i l l sleep; it'll get  116 bored so it'll move away from you. It w i l l sit d o w n elsewhere and contemplate things, try to figure out what's happened, and this is what the Cree language d i d , i n my case. Because I wasn't using it, what was the sense i n it hanging around right? So it was i n abeyance; it went away and became still, and went to sleep, until one day, w h e n I was about 30 years old, I went back home. It was so happy to wake up. Y o u know there was a new day, a beautiful day, so he jumped up and said "Well here I am y o u know; enjoy me again. Let's live life over", and we d i d that. A n d we did that, living life over at thirty years old. N o w that I have learned Cree again, my language w i l l always be there waiting for me, because m y language is me. It's my culture, it's everything that I am, it's m y landscape i n life; it's the one constant i n life, right? Someone w i l l always light a fire, someone else w i l l always be keeping the fires burning, so I have an option of always slipping back and being warmed by that fire. Whatever age I am— I may be 90 years old—I'll be able to go back and w a r m myself at that fire and have that fire burning inside me. If I had not re-adopted Cree, I think I w o u l d be an Englishman. I w o u l d be living i n the larger world, i n English, but I wouldn't be very happy. I'd be a misplaced person. I'd be a little b r o w n white man I guess; there'd be still something missing. Losing the language is like losing half the man y o u are. Not to lose the language makes me twice the man, so the loss of the language is the loss of the soul I think for an Indian person. It's the loss of the essence of the soul. Y o u never k n o w how beautiful y o u are until y o u know your language because you can only be described i n a foreign tongue. If I hadn't reawakened Cree, I wouldn't be able to talk to y o u now, because I wouldn't know... I w o u l d have nothing comparative to speak to y o u about right? So that, essentially, i n a few words, is the history of m y language loss.  117 Lara: Introduction The Interview Context W h e n I lived i n Point-middle-of-no-where, Japan, I wrote i n a letter to my M o m that one of the great things about living i n a city w i t h fewer than twenty other native English speakers was that I learned to be friends w i t h people w h o m I w o u l d not normally choose to spend time with—just because we spoke a common language, and we were thrown together a lot. M y "white" social circle was diverse i n terms of age, background, education, racial attitudes, country of origin, lifestyle, and just about every other conceivable social category. In doing this research project, I was blessed w i t h the same k i n d of phenomenon. W h e n I think back about the time I spent interviewing people and visiting their homes, a quartet of women aged forty-five to fifty-two, w h o m I w o u l d not normally have crossed paths with, from Belgium, Holland, Japan, and Finland, represent to me the pinnacle of what working w i t h life stories should be about. Minette, Greta, N a o m i , and the subject of this story, Lara, all shared w i t h me tea, food, companionship, curiosity, and each of them was able to bestow and receive often distressing details w h i c h sometimes led to tears. I reflected often about w h y these four w o m e n had such an impact on me, and finally concluded that it was partly the circumstances of their lives, and partly the circumstances of mine. Each of them had been profoundly influenced by the Second W o r l d War, Minette, Greta and Lara immigrating because of European devastation, and N a o m i being born and then held i n an internment camp for its duration. Each of them had faced the deterioration and mortality of parents, w h i c h had made them aware that their closest links to their first languages were stretched to breaking. Each of them felt that they were at a particularly reflective point i n their lives, and mentioned that reading about this study i n the newspaper had triggered a flash of recognition, an "aha" response. Each of them was herself the parent of at least one  118 daughter w h o was still struggling w i t h "becoming" rather than "being" i n terms of career, family, and education. A n d , I think, because of m y o w n circumstances, I naturally fell into a surrogate daughter role, especially w h e n I was pregnant, then not, then pregnant again. I don't know how else to explain it except that each of these four w o m e n palpably loved me, and let me love them i n return. It is unfortunate that, w i t h i n the limits of this particular work, I cannot detail all of their stories. I spent two evenings and two mornings i n August and September, 1995, at Lara's architect-designed house by the sea. W e sat on b i g red leather wing-back chairs facing floor-to-ceiling windows, while outside o n the balcony, her fierce little dog complained to anyone i n his field of vision. The w i n d o w s were always open so we could smell the salt air, and hear the passing traffic. Every time I was at Lara's house, we were repeatedly interrupted—by her daughter, by another daughter and her boyfriend, b y a neighbour, by the police looking for a former resident, by the telephone, b y her dog begging for attention, by her homestay student—and each time I was amazed by Lara's ability to adapt from her role as storyteller, to mother/ neighbour/house o w n e r / friend, and back to storyteller, seamlessly, without losing a single thread of her story. A n d , it was such a fascinating story. Lara seemed to really enjoy the uninterrupted oral narration aspect of the interviews, at ease w i t h relating a life story. She spoke directly to the tape recorder rather than to m e ,  33  and I found  myself listening to her as if I were a child listening to a legend or a fairy tale, rather than listening w i t h a m i n d to research, writing questions, and making quick notes. I wrote that,  Though she did not seem to enter a trance-like state in the same sense that Richard or William had. While Richard and William spoke as if I wasn't in the room, Lara seemed to be speaking to a large, unseen audience. 3 3  119 I love to listen to her. I find that I too enter almost a dream-like state, and have trouble bringing myself around to really concentrate i n a researcher-ly w a y because I'm so busy listening to the story. (Researcher Journal, August 20th, 1995, p. 23) A s a result, I found that I was constantly "making discoveries" while transcribing Lara's interviews. M a n y of her comments that were directly relevant to the research project had completely passed me by. Lara is very soft-spoken, and has a musical quality to her voice. I remembered reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby w h e n I was younger, and being struck by the description of Daisy as having a voice so low that people w o u l d automatically lean towards her w h e n she spoke (p. 6). Lara, too, had a lowpitched, yet "thrilling", voice that sounded more like an echo of itself than itself. Moreover, its musicality and timbre made me think that she was speaking very slowly, almost meditatively, yet, when I began to transcribe the interview tapes, I discovered that she actually spoke quickly, so quickly that I had trouble hearing every w o r d , and had to turn the transcriber speed down. Yet, I recalled no trouble hearing every w o r d while I was i n her presence. I think that the music i n Lara's voice is particularly interesting, given that loss of the lyricism of Finnish is what she claimed to regret losing most. D u r i n g our third interview together, I asked Lara to try to tell me exactly what it meant to her to have lost the language, and she replied that, W e l l , I think the Finnish language is an extremely lyrical language. It's almost like half-singing almost, and there's some real character i n it, and y o u don't see that i n the English language, or y o u don't hear it i n the English language very often, except perhaps if one makes a concerted effort to put some lyricism i n , when they're talking i n poetic verse or whatever. But, i n Finnish it's just part and parcel of the language, and it really really provides a character definition that we're lacking, and I don't know how to describe it....It feels like there's a real v o i d there. It feels like there's something missing and I'd really like to tap into that and I can't tap into it i n the English language, and I can't tap into it i n the Finnish language either right now. (August 30th, 1995, p. 3)  120 Lara then asked me to stop the tape because she had a video on w h i c h some people were speaking Finnish that she wanted to play for me. I listened carefully to their words, and while I admit that Lara d i d not sound particularly like them, I feel that she spoke English w i t h a k i n d of musical fervour that the Finnish speakers also showed i n their language. The difference, if I were to put it into metaphoric terms, is that while the people on the tape were "singing" a lusty folk tale, Lara was "singing" the melancholy song of a heavily pregnant fisher's wife on her Widow's Walk, pacing beneath a gray-purple sky. The Life History Context One of the first things I noticed about Lara is that her back was absolutely vertical, and she held her head perfectly erect, even w h e n lowering herself into a chair or raising to a standing position. One of the first things Lara told me about herself is that she had been i n a very serious car accident several years previously, w h i c h had broken her back, leaving her unable to return to work, and living on limited means. A s a result, Lara said, she had been going through a very reflective time i n her life, w i t h considerable emotional turmoil, considering her first language loss, and the various losses i n her life. A s Lara described it, It was really finding out w h o I am and what m y purpose and place i n the w o r l d is, w h i c h I still haven't determined at this point. But I feel much more comfortable i n that I suppose that I've come to the conclusion that I w i l l always be an outsider from whatever perspective I look at m y life. A s a Finn I'm an outsider. A s an Anglophone I'm an outsider. A s a Canadian I'm somewhat of an outsider because I fit nowhere really, but then, perhaps all Canadians are outsiders as well, so maybe there's a common thread there. A n d the best that I can see for myself is that hopefully m y children are going to be well-adjusted and w i l l not have the same crisis, so to speak, that I've had. (August 30th, 1995, pp. 3-4) But, as Lara d i d , I should begin at the beginning, rather than somewhere i n the middle.  121 Lara was born i n a small seaport city i n Finland, that she believes was very beautiful, though she doesn't have any visual recollection of it. She was born into a family that could trace its roots back over four hundred years on her father's side, while from her mother's family she inherited the oldest recorded Finnish family history. Her mother's family history is recorded i n four volumes, beginning i n the year 932, and attests to their upper class social position and attendance at some of the first Finnish universities w h i c h were established i n the 1700s. While her family was of the elite, the bulk of the Finnish population were peasants w h o were uneducated and illiterate, and w h o relied on oral history and the telling of stories. According to Lara, w h e n Finland broke away from Russia and Sweden at the turn of the century, the new government decided that the Finns had to be educated quickly, so a law was passed stating that anyone w h o wanted to get married had to become literate. W i t h i n one generation, everybody i n the country had learned to read and write, and the churches took over the teaching of language. The oral traditions were written d o w n . The Kalavala (sagas) were recorded, and Finland became an extremely literate society. Lara wanted me to know that the story of language i n Finland was complex, and very rich. Lara's mother and father both were educated to speak five languages. They knew Swedish, Finnish, Russian, German, and a fifth language w h i c h Lara can't remember, but w h i c h wasn't English. If their family had stayed i n Finland, Lara too w o u l d have spoken five languages; her parents were appalled at the miserable second language education students received i n Canada. O f course, if their family had stayed i n Finland, many other aspects of Lara's life w o u l d also have been different. Of all her cousins living i n Finland, only one owns a home, while the others all o w n apartments or condominiums. O n the other hand, all of them have summer retreats on a lake w i t h a sauna and a cabin because it's more important for a  122 Finnish family to have a cabin w i t h a sauna i n w h i c h to spend the summer months, than it is to have a house. Lara was the middle child of five, the last sibling born i n Finland. She has a sister ten years older w h o Lara feels is both brilliant and a fine artist, but w h o is institutionalized w i t h schizophrenia. Lara believes that the stresses of moving to Canada, having to learn the language, and never being accepted into the community, coupled w i t h living through the bombing and the horrors of the war triggered her sister's schizophrenia. Lara's brother, five years older, is now an environmentalist; however, he was also very troubled at school, dropping out i n grade nine to work i n unskilled labour. A t the age of twenty-one, he finally realized that he was too intelligent to continue w o r k i n g where he was, and finished high school i n one year, followed b y an honours degree and Master's i n zoology. Lara feels that he dropped out of school because he felt like an outsider i n the system. A s an example, she told me that he brought home a report card w i t h the name A d a m Johnson on it—he had changed his name to a more Anglophone name because "that was just more acceptable" (August 30th, 1995, p. 4). Lara herself d i d not complete a degree, though she attended four universities, taking a wide variety of arts and science courses, and completed a diploma i n computer data base design. The two younger children, both boys, were born i n Canada, the youngest one fourteen years after Lara's o w n birth, yet neither of them had a particularly easy time fitting into society either. Lara's immediate younger brother, the only family member she felt close to, was not interested i n school, and she remembers h i m having particularly poor grammar. H e died i n a car accident at the age of eighteen, before he realized his potential as a professional hockey player. The youngest brother went to university, got a degree i n English, and works for a social service agency; however, Lara claims that he still has difficulty w i t h English. Because her parents never spoke English well, and because they were busy people w i t h little  123 time for family, Lara believes that all of her siblings are poor English communicators. A t the end of 1952, when Lara was two years old, the family boarded a N e w Brunswick-bound ship, part of the third wave of Finnish immigrants to Canada.34 After landing i n Halifax,  35  the family was sent to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where her  father found a job and moved the family a short distance to Lakeland. Lakeland was a Francophone town, w h i c h had a large settlement of Finnish immigrants living on the east side of the river w h o had come to work on a hydroelectric project. A single lane bridge connected the east side of the river to the west side, and the train also shared the bridge. Lara remembers their house very clearly, an o l d farmhouse that must have been built around the turn of the century. There was no heat except for a wood-burning stove, and no insulation. A hot water tank that had to be filled by hand was attached to the stove—but their family was lucky. Most of the recent immigrants lived i n two room cottages without foundations and the pipes w o u l d freeze all winter long. A l t h o u g h Lara said that even the most poverty-stricken family w o u l d not consider living under those conditions anymore, Lakeland remains the scene of her fondest memories, the place that she refers to i n her story as "home". 36 Even though she moved away from Lakeland at the age of six, after living there for only four years, Lara still maintains contact w i t h other Finns w h o had lived there. She is therefore able to say that there was little interaction between the Francophones and Finns, and no intermarriage. While her fellow Finns married Ukrainians, w h o lived to the south, and English speakers w h o dwelt i n the north i n Lakeland, they d i d not have anything to do w i t h the French Canadians. The bridge,  Apparently the first wave, at the turn of the century, consisted primarily of loggers and fishermen, while the second wave, in the 1930s, was fearful of the unrest in Europe and wished to avoid another world war. I am not sure if Lara mistakenly thought Halifax was in New Brunswick, or if they disembarked enroute. ^I think this is a testament to the strength of memories and knowledge of early childhood. It is unfortunate that, having lost Finnish, Lara would be unable to ever go home again. 34  3 5  3  124 it seems, was a physical metaphor for the emotional isolation, creating "outsiders looking in" to town. W h e n Lara and her family moved into a large city two hours away, her life changed dramatically. Her father, having been transferred to "head office", then spent most of his time on the road. Her mother, bored and frustrated without a career, took over a lunch bar i n an industrial area, and eventually opened a number of restaurants i n the area. Lara and her siblings were largely left on their o w n , an isolation that was intensified by their frequent residential moves while the family climbed the socio-economic ladder. Lara doesn't speak much about her time at school, except to say that she was not permitted to enter school until she was seven years old, and then she was only allowed to begin kindergarten. Her older brother and sister were also put back a grade, but they were quickly moved ahead to their normal peer groups. Despite her family's attempts to have her moved ahead, and i n spite of the fact that she was by far the brightest student i n her class, Lara was kept behind. She feels that there was some k i n d of resentment against her that worked to her disadvantage. Lara remembers her kindergarten teacher really disliking her, and not allowing her any leeway, even to go to the bathroom: I wanted to go to the bathroom, and w h e n you're a kindergarten student you've never been i n a social group like this before. Y o u don't think that y o u have to go to the bathroom at certain times, y o u think "well geez, y o u know, I've got to go to the bathroom"; the urge is there. You've got to be forgiving, you've got to let them know that "well try to think about...go[ing] to the bathroom, even though y o u may not have to go", that type of thing. A n d there was no grace there for me, but there was grace there for other people. A n d I recognized that early. (August 21,1995, p. 20) I questioned Lara about w h y she thought she had been singled out for such deep dislike, asking too if she remembered other teachers. Although she changed schools many times as the family lived i n nine different homes during her school  125 years, Lara remembers virtually always having the same principal, the principal who refused to promote her to her proper grade w h e n her father tried to intervene. Lara remembers feeling persecuted, thinking that she didn't want to have to deal w i t h her anymore, that she had had enough. Lara told me the reason that she was held back: I think that [language] had a lot to do w i t h it; I think the fact that I was a year older, I think the fact that I was much bigger than the rest of them... very tall for m y age. A n d I think the fact that I was m u c h smarter than the rest of them. A n d I don't know if I was intellectually smarter, but I was just smarter because I was older. I think there were a lot of things going against me, definitely. I think the language issue was one of them. I think that...we were perceived to be lower middle class, illiterate people. I don't think they thought of us as educated people w h o came from an educated home, and I can understand it....It was difficult to communicate w i t h our parents; it was difficult for [our parents] to communicate w i t h us, communicate w i t h teachers, so there was a barrier there.... (August 21,1995, p. 20) In high school also, Lara had difficulty w i t h her o w n placement w i t h i n the education system. Her parents were very concerned when she was i n grade ten because the school wanted to put her into the general program rather than the matriculation program. A t her parents' insistence, she endured aptitude tests and IQ tests, which placed her i n the 99th percentile, so the school finally relented and put her into the matriculation stream. Lara feels that there must have been "something on the school records right from day one...that followed [her] all the way through" (August 30th, 1995, p. 10), but her parents were unable to obtain access to her school records and so her placement difficulties remain a mystery even today. But, for the most part, Lara avoided talking about her education and postsecondary education, glossing over too her early marriage to an Icelander, another "Arctic person" and her move to B. C. She had two daughters, and was later divorced. She does not speak m u c h about her ex-husband, except to say that he also came from a very o l d family, able to trace their roots back over one thousand years.  126 Lara feels this gives her children a sense of "groundedness" that her daughter's friends envy. They have 121 first cousins, and know a little bit about them all. They have roots on both sides of their family, and this, Lara feels, w i l l help them i n times of personal crisis. The Narrative Context The first thing that I noticed about Lara's interviews was the complete ease she seemed to feel w i t h oral narration. The second thing that I noticed was that her stories seemed to be constructed like legends, or, perhaps, N o r d i c sagas. She always tried to give me a complete picture, detailing not only what she felt was important i n her life to the topic of language loss, but the relevant stories of her parents' lives and the entire Finnish national history as she knew it as well. W h e n I told her that she was the only participant at that point w h o had told her story i n that way, she expressed surprise, and asked me how others had managed to tell their stories at all; she could conceive of no other way. This was very interesting to me for several reasons. First, Lara had not formally studied or deliberately read about Finnish history. Rather, what she knew about Finland came from childhood stories told to her i n the community sauna i n Lakeland. Later, w h e n she heard mention of parts of Finnish history or culture, it was like a flash of recognition to her. She knew that she had heard that information before, and she knew that she had learned it i n Finnish, so hearing it again i n English was an important validation for her. This confirmed what I had started to believe i n this research project: Memories are memories and are not necessarily stored i n any language. Several participants had mentioned to me that, while they could not hear the soundtrack for their memories i n their heads, they could remember the essence of what was said. I am starting to believe that, although it is common for ESL teachers to encourage their students to try to think i n the target language, we do not have sufficient understanding of what that means. If memories  127 are stored without regard to language, then perhaps we can reason that people do not think i n any language. Perhaps we think i n the abstract and through conscious processes transform that into language. 37 The second reason I found her stories about Finnish history interesting is that they were new to me. N o t only were they new and intriguing, but they were also relevant to language, immigration and cultural issues, often containing some k i n d of moral precedent. For example, Lara told the story w h i c h I mentioned above about the need for Finland to become literate i n a very short period of time, and the country's literacy requirement for marriage. I sensed profound admiration on Lara's part for such an ingenious solution. Another of her stories dealt w i t h the problem of refugees. To repay part of her war debt, Finland had to cede a section of her territory to Russia. The inhabitants left and moved into the remainder of Finland because they didn't want to live i n Russia. The Finnish government decided that they w o u l d not b u i l d refugee camps because such camps "have a habit of staying where they are and lasting generations and generations" (August 21,1995, p. 17). What the Finnish government d i d instead was to force everybody who had any space to take the refugees into their homes, because the incentive to get them employed and settled w o u l d be very strong. A l l Finns were taxed 10 percent of their wealth, w h i c h moneys were given to the refugees to reestablish them i n their o w n homes. In three years, the entire population was housed. Lara commented, by comparison, "I mean, how many people are still, 25 years later, living i n refugee camps for the Vietnamese problem?" (August 21,1995, p. 18). A n d I have to admit, there was part of me that admired the Finnish solutions, however harsh they may first appear. O f course,  Indeed, I became even more convinced of this recently when I was asked to participate in a "think aloud" research protocol. As I was trying to articulate my thoughts, I kept feeling "this is not what I am thinking except in the very narrowest, most linear part of my mind". I did not feel that I had access to what I was really minking. 37  128 such policies, and our reaction to such policies, cause us to question w h o policies are designed for. A r e policies designed i n the best interests of the refugee, or i n the best interests of the voting public? The third reason I found her method of narration so fascinating was that I was reminded that Finnish was originally an oral culture. I found myself wondering if Lara, like Richard, had internalized part of the Finnish language tradition without realizing it, and translated narrative structure into English. This again set me to musing about what language loss is, and what it means, and whether speaking English while using Finnish language traditions qualifies as a k i n d of language hybrid. A n d I wondered as well, whether it was familiarity w i t h the patterns and metalanguage of Finnish, or the ability to understand some elementary Finnish, that led to Lara's feeling that, w i t h six months' immersion, she could be fluent i n Finnish to at least the level she had reached when she started to learn English. Lara estimates that she had once been fluent to about 75 percent of a standard adult norm. I was struck by Lara's claim because it was so common among the participants i n this research project. So many seemed to feel that the language was buried deep w i t h i n themselves somewhere, if only they knew how to find it (see chapter five). O d d l y enough, Lara, one of the most articulate interviewees i n this study, expressed a lot of concern about her English language ability. In our first interview together, Lara expressed her opinion that her English language ability today is still influenced by having lost her first language because she is not able to call o n the words she needs w h e n she needs them. Although she has no trouble writing, because she has the opportunity to be thoughtful and to edit her w o r d choices carefully, she just doesn't seem to be able to monitor her oral performance, a problem she attributes to her interrupted language development and to the  129 communication problems i n her home. Lara also said that very articulate people intimidate her because she is always aware of the grammatical errors that she makes i n her speech, and she w o u l d like to be able to speak more perfectly. In fact, Lara is so uncertain of her English language ability, that she is cautious about correcting her children's grammar. O n those occasions w h e n she has tried to get her daughters to speak w i t h more precision, they have told her that no one speaks that way anymore. Lara is inclined to believe them, especially w h e n it comes to new slang, because she feels that she is completely unable to understand it. Lara finds that she cannot judge the gist of new expressions from the context. In this uncertainty, Lara is very much like a second language speaker. M y first and second hand experience has been that a second language speaker w i l l not correct, or even question, a native speaker of that language, no matter how flagrant the error. Second language speakers always feel that slang, idioms and humour are the hardest things to understand i n the target language because so m u c h is culled from often unfamiliar cultural norms. Second language speakers are often very critical of their o w n oral performance, not believing that they can express themselves well because they could do better i n their first languages. Yet, Lara is not really a second language speaker. She has little recollection of Finnish and therefore, if we were to take the 1996 Canadian census definition, she is a native speaker of English. Her uncertainty likely comes from the poor English language skills she heard modeled at home, and the feeling she mentions often throughout her interviews, of being an outsider looking i n at Canadian culture. She feels like an outsider looking i n at language use as well. Moreover, I believe that her lack of confidence can partly be attributed to being what she calls the "transition" person i n her family. Lara's two older siblings began attending school at Lakeland, where they learned to read and write both English and Finnish. By the time the family moved to the city and began using English i n the home, her older sister and  130 brother were sixteen and eleven years old, respectively. They remain fluent bilinguals. Lara's two younger siblings were born i n the city and never learned to speak Finnish at all. They were completely monolingual i n English. Lara is the only person i n the family w h o began developing i n Finnish and then suddenly switched to English, rather than developing bilingually. She feels the shame of being the only person i n her family to have lost a language, and she seems to feel insufficiently grounded i n language. U s i n g Cummins' (1979) "iceberg" metaphor, Lara suddenly switched from one language to the other and was never able to transfer concepts from one language into the other. Instead, she had to redevelop concepts i n a second language, learning everything again "from scratch". This could, understandably, lead to lifelong uncertainty about the language. A final comment I wanted to make about Lara's story was that she was the first person to articulate the source, not just of the linguistic difficulties she had w i t h her parents, but of the cultural difficulties as well. In her life story, Lara points out that her parents remained 1950s-style Finns. Because they could not speak English well, they d i d not change w i t h the times i n Canada, but because they were separated from the Finnish experience, they d i d not become Finns of the 1990s either. Instead, they remained mired i n a k i n d of time warp w h i c h they shared w i t h other Finns w h o had immigrated at the same time. This was something that I had never even considered, and yet, as soon as Lara said it, I thought "Of course!". Ironically, considering Lara's feelings of language inferiority, I was always grateful for Lara's amazingly articulate ability to explain this to me. W h e n I later heard others struggling to understand and verbalize the cultural disparities i n their homes, I was able to listen and hear echoes of Lara's explanation. W h e n the tape was turned off, and we were talking off the record, I w o u l d paraphrase Lara's words to other participants, and they w o u l d exclaim "that's it". I was told to thank her for being "one smart lady" w h o had managed to precisely explain a common experience.  131 Fortunately, I was able to pass several messages of thanks on to Lara for her wonderful descriptive ability.  132 Lara's Story: A n outsider looking i n I guess I'll start w i t h m y name. M y name is Lara Johanneson and I was born i n Finland, i n 1950, during a period i n Finland's history that was very difficult. W h e n I was born i n Finland, it was a very tumultuous time and very difficult for many of the people. After the war ended i n 1945, the Finnish government decided that, i n order to repay the war debt,38 everybody w o u l d have to w o r k an extra day each week for the government, and the sixth day's wages w o u l d go to repaying reparations. N o emigration was allowed from Finland because it was felt that the strict reparations w o u l d cause a mass exodus from Finland. So w h e n 1951 came along, the war debt had been repaid—I should say that Finland's the only country that repaid its war debt—and at that point the Finnish government opened the doors to emigration. The times i n Finland had been very very hard. There was mass starvation. Finland was completely razed during the Second W o r l d War. N o money was given to Finland to rebuild and they had to do it all from within. In 1951, Russia realized that Finland had become a very industrious, wealthy nation, and they were making overtures to take over Finland again. A lot of the people w h o had been through the war decided that they weren't going to stick around for another war because they didn't think that Finland could handle it. Russia had militarized their population and Finland wouldn't have the advantages that they had had during the Second W o r l d War. So m y parents were part of the mass exodus leaving Finland. We moved to Canada; we took the S.S. Europa to Halifax. W e landed i n Halifax and we were sent to Winnipeg, which was part of the Canadian policy to distribute immigrants, instead of ghettoizing them i n specific areas. M y father was an engineer i n Finland; he didn't have engineering papers here. M y mother was a L a r a explained to me that Finland was allied with the Axis Powers during the Second World War. Having been invaded by Russia, Finland bought arms from Germany, which forced the country into an Axis alliance. 38  133 nurse i n Finland but she couldn't work as a nurse here. M y father found a job working i n steel construction i n Lakeland, about an hour-and-a-half-drive northeast of a major city. They quickly found out that he was a brilliant man and mathematically-inclined, that he could proof an engineer's mathematical formulas right on the spot and tell immediately if there were any mistakes i n it. So he quickly worked his w a y through and became an engineer. N o w I think I need to go back a little bit into their history. M y father was orphaned at a very young age, but not orphaned i n the sense that y o u w o u l d expect. M y paternal grandmother was institutionalized and m y paternal grandfather, for some reason, didn't raise m y father. H e was sent into an orphanage. M y paternal grandfather divorced his wife and remarried and had another child, but never took my father home. I think that life i n an orphanage was very harsh and very strict and my father became a very quiet, very thoughtful person; the result was that I didn't get m u c h conversation from m y father. A n d then m y mother's mother died when she was five or six years old. Her father was a sea captain and he was on the ocean a lot, but the oldest brother said that he w o u l d raise them. H e finished school and he raised them. M y mother also has been a very quiet person w h o hasn't really communicated very well w i t h any of us. I think this had a major impact on the rest of us. M y mother and m y father both learned five different languages i n Finland, but anyway, they couldn't speak English. M y father and m y mother never really learned the English language very well. M y father was very good w i t h the English language i n engineering, but when it came to speaking to us, I w o u l d say that both my parents were at an elementary school language level i n English. Perhaps that affected their ability to communicate w i t h other people i n the English language community, and maybe they were looked d o w n upon i n spite of their education. Maybe others assumed we were uneducated and illiterate, but, at any rate, we were  134 k i n d of outcasts. I always sensed that there was something really different about our family and I'm not sure quite what it was. I think that language played a major role when it comes to that. I think that we were perceived to be lower middle class, illiterate people. I don't think we were thought of as educated people w h o came from an educated home. I can understand that. It was difficult to communicate w i t h our parents. It was difficult for them to communicate w i t h us, communicate w i t h teachers, so there was a barrier there, but that doesn't mean we weren't an upper middle class family. Getting on to m y life, I lived i n Lakeland from about the age of two until I moved to Winnipeg at the age of about six. In Lakeland, the west side of the river, the town, was French-Canadian, while the east side of the river was a huge Finnish community and everybody spoke Finnish. We had a very tight Finnish community because we all lived on this one side of the river, and the east side was only connected to the town by a single lane bridge w h i c h the train also used. I'm not sure if I was articulate i n Finnish; I expect I wasn't articulate. I don't think I could have been, given that m y mother and father were very quiet people. A n d , I never started school i n Lakeland, though m y brother and sister d i d . Because of the large Finnish population there, the school even made provision for the students to learn to read and write i n Finnish. I remember many of the people i n Lakeland, and I remember many things of them. The interesting thing is that I don't remember events i n Finnish anymore, and I don't remember them i n English, but I remember the essence of what was important to me. I try to think back to when people were talking to me and I just can't remember the words; I can't remember them at all. I think one of m y earliest memories is w h e n I was about 2 1 / 2 years old. M y brother and sister had a towel and we were scooping up minnows by the side of the river. I remember laughing and giggling and watching these minnows jumping up on the towel, and I  135 remember pointing at them and I remember I said "Look, look" but not i n English, and I don't remember saying it i n Finnish, but I know I had to have said "Gato, Gato". The whole experience is still so v i v i d . I remember saying things and I know what I said but I don't remember actually what I said. A n d I'm not sure if that's the experience of losing your language or if it's just that that's the w a y children remember. There's so many things that various w o m e n i n the community imparted about m y history, i n an oral history. I remember many of the things that were told to me but I honestly can't remember the words that were said; I know that I was told, for instance, that the Finnish people w o u l d bake that hardtack bread w i t h the hole i n the center twice a year and hang it on birch poles across the kitchen ceiling, and whenever they w o u l d need it, they w o u l d break off a piece. I was told all about Finnish history after the Second W o r l d War, and I know all of these stories, but I can't remember w h e n I was told them. I remember the sauna was where this really transpired, where the children w o u l d sit on the lower rungs and the older w o m e n w o u l d talk to us as they were sitting up higher, and they w o u l d tell us stories, and they w o u l d pour water o n us to cool us off, and gently brush our skin w i t h birch leaves to release the oils and just feel the meditation a little bit more. I remember many stories that were told to me and I know what those stories were, but I can't remember a w o r d , w h i c h is just amazing to me. A n y w a y , m y language experience ended when I left Lakeland, and I very rarely went back to visit these people. W h e n I d i d I couldn't communicate w i t h them. A n d most of them had very poor English language skills. I learned all of the history that I k n o w of Finland prior to w h e n I left Lakeland, and it was reinforced by my o w n reading afterwards, and then I recollected all of these things being told to me i n Finnish. A n d it was really important to me to get that validation as well, to realize that it wasn't m y imagination, this really was the truth; these were stories  136 that were told to me. W h e n I read the histories I remembered being told that, and I identified w i t h it, but I remembered just like snapshots; y o u remember little bits here and there, but y o u can't tie it together until the common thread is d r a w n for you. A n d I always felt like I was an outsider looking in. I never really felt like I was part of the community. A n d it's funny how at an early age I was feeling that. I never felt that prior to moving into the city, but moving to the city I always felt like I was an outsider looking in. A n d I'm not sure what effect the language had on it. A s I said, m y Finnish language experience ended w h e n I was six years and I moved into the city. W h e n we moved there was a transformation into English. I think what took precedence for m y parents was that we integrate into society; they thought that was more important than our maintaining our culture and learning our mother tongue. Once we left the environment of Lakeland, it just became m u c h more difficult to maintain it, and I don't think an effort was really made by them to make sure we maintained our culture and our language. So we never really had the language experience i n English or i n Finnish after that from m y parents, and we all came out of our home w i t h various degrees of English language skill. A n d , I realized that I had stopped learning m y language w h e n I left Lakeland. I remember feeling k i n d of bad, sad, but it wasn't a really embarrassed or disgusted anger w i t h myself; I just felt like I'd let myself down. But I still feel somewhat that I belong to m y culture, though I feel removed. I don't think that it w o u l d take me long to integrate back into it because of m y early experience. I have no doubt i n m y m i n d that if I immersed myself i n Finland, within six months I w o u l d probably be fluent i n the language up to the level I was at w h e n I started to speak English. Interestingly enough, I'm sure that I must have been able to speak a few words of English w h e n we moved into the city, but m y mother ended up taking me to four or five different elementary schools, trying to get me in. N o w y o u have to remember that I was older than most children, and they wouldn't even take me.  137 They said "No, just leave her for another year playing on the street and she'll learn to speak English and then we'll take her into kindergarten"; I guess that was their w a y of dealing w i t h ESL for a child w h o had never been to school. I remember being dragged from school to school, and I knew m y mother was stressed. I couldn't understand what was going on because I just thought "Well I'll just start school and I'll be okay", and I remember wanting to say something to the people at the schools, but I don't remember what it was specifically I wanted to say. I suppose I just wanted to let them know that it w o u l d be okay if I started school, but I think after that I recognized that m y English was very important, and y o u had to be understood. I remember it very clearly, and that's one of m y few memories, of being dragged~I remember going to the school closest to me, Portwood, and I remember going to Timms School, I went to Fellows School, I remember going to another school, but I can't remember the name of that one. I remember going to the three key schools that were closest to m y home, and they turned me away. They turned me away from kindergarten. The next year, they had to take me at Portwood because I was six years old, but they didn't have to put me i n grade one. They could put me where they wanted because schools were all-powerful then. They put me i n kindergarten. The irony here is that the principal of the school w h e n I started was Nancy Sherman, and though we moved nine or ten times climbing up the social ladder, she followed me to all the major schools that I attended. I remember thinking " M y G o d , w h y do I have to have her again?" I just had this instant dislike. I guess it was because of m y experience. I just didn't want her i n m y life. I never really learned any English and no one w o u l d play w i t h me. I imagine if someone had been i n school previously then they'd have to take them, because m y brother and sister went to school immediately. They were brought d o w n a grade— because they were country hicks, I suppose—but they were quickly moved up. So  138 when I went to school I was almost 7 years old. I was twice as b i g as any child. I couldn't speak English very well I'm sure, if I spoke any at all. A n d m y teacher disliked me. I knew that I was proficient i n English to the same level as everybody else by the time grade one came along, and I was far ahead i n ability. A n d I think at this point language discrimination d i d come i n because I really should have been moved ahead. M y father went to school and said "She should be moved ahead a year" and they said "No no no no", that m y English was not good enough. A n d m y father couldn't argue. H i s language wasn't good enough to assess the situation. So I was always a year behind and I was always w a y ahead of everybody else after that. They were just sticking to their guns, I guess. I know academically I was far ahead of anyone else i n m y classroom. A t first they said "Well she can't speak English"; within six months I was as fluent as the rest of them. M y parents were concerned— my father even said that he recognized that the language at home wasn't as good as it could be—but I guess w h e n m y father went i n to fight, he still couldn't speak very well. I know that m y aptitude tests were excellent, because m y parents got them i n grade ten. The school wanted to put me into a general program, and m y parents said "No", put me into the matriculation program. So anyway they got m y aptitude tests done and finally they relented and put me into matriculation. But I don't know what the reason to hold me back was. I don't know w h y it was~but this followed me all the w a y through school. I don't remember ever really being ostracized for m y language as such, and I don't remember ever having an accent, but I'm sure that I did. I'm sure that I made major mistakes i n the English language and I think that had a major effect on w h y I now find it very important to speak English well. I know that w h e n I first moved into the city, kids used to make fun of me and they w o u l d repeat things that I w o u l d say w h e n I didn't think that there was anything unusual i n the w a y that I had said  139 them. They'd laugh and giggle or whatever, so I know that they were making fun of me, but I don't remember it clicking that I was saying it wrong. I don't remember that k i n d of problem, so obviously I must have corrected myself pretty quickly. I still make a lot of mistakes grammatically, but I'm at the point where I don't care anymore, and I don't try to figure out w h i c h is which because I just find it too hard. I think that English was important to me, because I recognized this poor communication that we had i n our family. I think that, i n m y family, we have problems where we can't talk to each other openly because we think too m u c h when we're talking. We're trying too hard to understand rather than taking things at face value. I often attributed that to the fact that we had this other language. I think it's something that becomes habitual because y o u have to do it at some point i n your life i n order to understand what is going on. Because much of what our parents said to us when they were speaking to us i n English, we had to deduce what they were trying to say, to try and understand because they weren't getting it across i n the way that a normal parent w h o had good language skills w o u l d . A l t h o u g h I was very good at school, I found Social Studies hard, and it came d o w n to the English language. W e were asked to do analysis of writings w i t h regards to social studies and we had to make inferences from those writings and I couldn't make the connection. I couldn't see h o w people could p u l l that information out. W h e n the answers came, I remember thinking "They're so simple. W h y couldn't I understand them?", but then another twist w o u l d come up i n the problem and I just couldn't make that connection. A n d , I remember English grammar being exceedingly difficult for me. I really d i d try i n English, but I found it hard. I applied myself more than I d i d w i t h anything else, but m y marks didn't reflect that application. M y marks were from 85 to 90, but most of m y marks were over 90. To this day, I'll look at a sentence and I'll say "I've done something w r o n g here; I don't know what it is". But literature and writing I was very good at. M y English teacher  140 i n grade 11 actually told me that I should be an English teacher, and a writer, a poet. I think poetry suited me because I didn't feel bound by any grammatical rules necessarily. I do remember being i n about grade one or two or three—I'm not too sure, m y mother trying to speak to me i n Finnish and I was so frustrated and I said "speak English because I don't understand what you're saying to me". A n d I think that she was trying perhaps to push m y level of Finnish, or bring it back, because she realized that I was losing it, and I was exasperated. A n d I suppose the frustration isn't really w i t h m y m o m ; it's more w i t h myself but it's focused on m y mother. Trying to discuss this w i t h m y mother is very difficult; she doesn't want to speak about it and I think she has a lot of painful memories and I think it's painful to her to see that we've mostly lost the language and the culture. But we do things that are part of the Finnish culture. That I've tried to maintain because I think it's important for m y children to k n o w their heritage and I think too m u c h heritage is lost as it is. There were many things that I couldn't discuss w i t h m y mother because I couldn't communicate w i t h her. I felt she couldn't understand what I was trying to say. Maybe she d i d and she was just so set i n her ways that she wasn't open to any conversation and maybe she wanted to dictate to me; I don't know. W h e n I spoke to my parents, we spoke i n English and that was it. They communicated what they could, but I'm sure that they never really understood what we were trying to say. A n d y o u have to remember that w h e n we left Finland it was the 1950s and m y parents culturally were 1950s Finnish; they never never developed beyond that. They were 1950s Finnish, and when we moved into Lakeland I think that they maintained that era i n their way of thinking about society as a whole. Y o u have to realize that people i n Finland moved beyond that and were now 1990s people, and my parents never really integrated and adopted the N o r t h American culture either.  141 I have to let y o u know that the last five years, I've spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting because I was i n a serious car accident i n 1989 and m y back was broken. I guess y o u go through a period w h e n y o u get really depressed and y o u really start to examine your reason for being. I think that as a result of that, all of these types of issues start to come up and y o u start to think of things that perhaps you wouldn't have thought of previously. But this is the first time I've ever really had a discussion about m y language w i t h anyone. I've had a lot of thoughts about it, and a lot of these thoughts I've had to myself, but not through reading or discussing it w i t h anyone, just reflection more than anything else. Definitely I was aware of having lost m y language and I was aware that m y language to this day is affected by it, i n that I'm not able to call on the words I need w h e n I need them. I know the words that I need; I understand them; I can read them; I can write; I can really write exceptionally well, but to verbally speak the English language is very difficult for me, especially trying to find the exact w o r d that I want to use. I know that I have it i n m y vocabulary, but it's not on the tip of m y tongue. I'm trying to search for the words that w o u l d be most appropriate for what I'm trying to describe. Perhaps I get too caught up i n trying to be accurate i n m y descriptions, looking for a specific w o r d to use so that I'm more precise i n m y definition of something. I know I have the w o r d i n m y vocabulary, but I just can't get at it for whatever reason. I don't understand w h y I have these problems. If I scroll through the language i n m y head, I recognize it but I just have such a heck of a time getting that w o r d out. I suppose I look w i t h envy at people w h o are able to access words so quickly and have such command of the language where I have to be so m u c h more thoughtful. W h e n I was i n college I was getting A+s on m y essays, and when I went to university, it was the same thing, but I wasn't able to articulate what I wanted to impart. I guess I need a slower pace to be able to do that, and I just can't seem to talk at the same time. A n d also people w h o are very articulate can intimidate me to a  142 degree as well, because I'm really conscious about the grammatical errors that I know I'm making. Sometimes I'm so intimidated—maybe intimidated isn't the w o r d for it—but I just sit back i n awe and I just want to listen to articulate people and see if I can learn anything from them. It's their vocabulary, their structure, content, and the ability to describe precisely what they're trying to say, and i n such an elegant way that it appears easy, so y o u k n o w how difficult it really is. I've often wondered "What d i d they do to get to that?" and "I w o u l d give anything to be like that", but that's not the truth of the matter because if I really w o u l d give anything to be like that, I w o u l d be like that wouldn't I? A s a matter of fact I haven't totally lost the Finnish language. There are still words that I don't need to translate. The last few times I spoke to m y mother I made a concerted effort to try and figure out if I remember the words she spoke i n Finnish. There are things that I remember i n Finnish, but I don't identify them as Finnish. I know instinctively what it is, but I don't translate it. I mean, they're equal. I think the words I remember were so fundamental, so elementary, that they were the first words out of a child's mouth perhaps. I had four or five years, or three years, whatever it is y o u need to get them so embedded i n your m i n d that y o u can't lose them. But as far as the language, perhaps as I was getting closer to five and six years of age, that language w h e n you're learning the words, perhaps I used them more and then, perhaps, retained them. A s far as speaking goes, I could say something i n Finnish if I needed to, but it w o u l d be very elementary, very rudimentary. I don't think I could say anything higher than perhaps what a pre-school student or child w o u l d say. I can understand some things, not a lot. I can get b y and introduce myself. I can say some things that I might want, like "I want a glass of water". I could ask for a glass of milk—the things that a child w o u l d want to be able to do. But as far as explaining myself, and where I want to go, and explaining what I'm trying to do, there's just no possible  143 way of doing that because that's not something that a child w o u l d try to explain. A n d I no longer have the capability of understanding the stories I grew up with. I tried to listen to the sagas on the Finnish channel and I didn't understand a thing. It's something that I w o u l d have to read i n English I think, and then maybe it w o u l d bring back the memories of the stories I was told, but there's nothing that I really remember regarding the sagas. Yet, m y daughters claim that I can speak Finnish because m y mother comes over quite frequently and stays, and she'll speak to me i n Finnish and I'll say "no" or "yes", and respond, and then they'll say "you can speak Finnish!". I try to explain to them that "well, no, no, I can't speak it; I couldn't repeat what she just said to me". When m y mother is here, I am not at all speaking. I'm listening to Finnish and responding to it i n English. In fact, the last time that I ever tried to speak Finnish, I must have been about 18 years old, i n grade 12, and m y uncle came from Finland. He was dying, and he wanted to see m y mother and her siblings. A n d I wanted to speak to h i m very m u c h because he couldn't speak English. I tried, but it was a total failure, and after that, I never tried again. Still, I feel a certain affinity w i t h other Finns and try to stay i n touch w i t h the culture. Where I live now is an o l d Finnish community. It's not a young one, so it has been assimilated. I think that's probably w h y I fell i n love w i t h this place, because it's just like home. This is what the area around Lakeland was like, and this is what Finland was like. A n d I know right away w h e n I hear a Finnish accent. I can even pick out the accent of the person w h o d i d speak Finnish up until they were about ten or twelve and then moved into English; there's a distinct sense of the rhythm of the language. The Finnish language is an extremely lyrical language, halfsinging almost, and there's some real character i n it. Y o u don't see that i n the English language, or y o u don't hear it i n the English language very often, except perhaps if one makes a concerted effort to put some lyricism in. In Finnish, it's just  144 part and parcel of the language. It really provides a character definition that we English speakers are lacking. I don't know how to describe it. I don't know how to describe having lost it; it feels like there's a real v o i d there, like there's something missing. I'd really like to tap into that lyricism and I can't tap into it i n the English language and I can't tap into it i n the Finnish language either. W h e n it first dawned o n me that I'd lost my language, there was a sadness, a disappointment, and a sense of tragedy. I think the tragedy is still there, but over time m y attitude toward it has changed. I suppose that it was inevitable i n the way that our family handled the language issue. There's still a sadness and a tragedy, but it's not as deep now as it once was. A n d if I could do it over again, I w o u l d certainly love to change things. But I can't obviously, and I think I'm more accepting of it. A s far as consequences from losing my language, I w o u l d stress that I couldn't communicate w i t h m y family members from Finland w h e n they came here to visit. That was hurtful to me—and for them too. A n d I think, having lost my language, I, i n essence, lost a lot of my culture. N o matter how m u c h I try, I don't think I'll ever really understand it. If I'd kept it, I think I w o u l d have kept a sense of myself, m y o w n identity, m u c h more; I think that when I'd gone through the turmoil that I've gone through i n the last few years since the accident, perhaps I wouldn't have had to go through much of the soul-searching task that I had to go through. I was really finding out w h o I am and what m y purpose and place i n the w o r l d is. I still haven't determined that at this point, but I feel much more comfortable because I've come to the conclusion that I w i l l always be an outsider looking i n from whatever perspective I look at my life. A s a Finn I'm an outsider; as an Anglophone I'm an outsider; as a Canadian I'm somewhat of an outsider because I fit nowhere really—but then perhaps all Canadians are outsiders as well, so maybe there's a common thread there. I suppose there's certain death of self when y o u lose your  145 mother tongue as well, that perhaps y o u don't ever get back, don't ever find...don't ever resurrect.  146 Brian: Introduction The Interview Context I chose to include Brian's story for different reasons than I chose the other stories. Brian is one of only two people w h o volunteered for this research project claiming that losing his first language really hadn't had that m u c h of an impact on his life, that it really hadn't mattered to h i m at all. Therefore, according to m y definition of "outliers" (see above, p. 52), I should not have included his story as one of the five major narratives. I reconsidered i n light of the stories w h i c h emerged. In the beginning, I miscast Brian and therefore nearly excluded his story. W h e n I first re-read his transcripts, I agreed w i t h Brian's self-assessment that he had not been terribly m u c h affected by the loss of Korean. H e was polite, popular, possessed of a fine ironic wit, and very cavalier i n his descriptions of his struggles to learn English and the loss of Korean. Even w h e n I asked h i m w h y he had chosen to participate i n this research project, and w h y he had telephoned me to volunteer, he replied that, I didn't want to really. I mean, it wasn't something where I had to get something off my chest. It was more probably just because y o u were a [university] student, just to help a [university] student out, just because I'm a [university] student. It wasn't really, you know, "get out of this cloud", it was just to help out another [university] student. (July 6th, 1995, p. 14) Brian explained that, because he didn't even remember speaking Korean, he didn't have "any feelings" for the loss of his language. A t first, I took h i m at his word. But then, I began to question his motivation a little bit more deeply. The first meeting that I had w i t h Brian took place at the University of British Columbia's M a i n Library, i n the basement. I had allowed Brian to choose the place because I wanted h i m to suggest somewhere convenient for him. W h e n he chose the campus, I assumed that he was still enrolled i n courses, or had w o r k to complete there. W h e n I found out that he had taken the bus from his job d o w n t o w n to meet me at  147 the university, I told h i m that I w o u l d be happy to meet h i m anywhere, that he didn't need to worry about making things convenient for me, and I also offered to drive h i m home—about ninety minutes away by bus—an offer he refused because a friend was coming to pick h i m up. The second time we met, Brian again suggested that we meet at the university, this time i n the Student U n i o n Building (SUB). I asked h i m if he was sure that the SUB was a convenient location, and he said that he had some things to do out by the campus that day, therefore it was a good place for him. I told h i m before we met that I w o u l d drive h i m home after we had finished. During our interview, and the discussion w h i c h followed it, I found out that Brian's family was very private. H e mentioned that he didn't know how o l d his parents were,39 that he didn't know anything about their childhoods, that he w o u l d never have discussed anything of a personal nature w i t h either of them, preferring to have those kinds of discussions w i t h friends or school contacts. Brian wasn't sure w h y his parents had come to Canada, though he assumed it was to pursue "opportunity", nor d i d he know how o l d they were w h e n they immigrated, nor d i d he have m u c h knowledge about their lives prior to coming to Canada. W h e n I asked Brian if it might be possible for me to interview his parents, he said he didn't think they w o u l d consent to being interviewed, but he w o u l d ask them. H e thought they'd be embarrassed by their poor English, and unwilling to answer questions. I asked h i m , if that were indeed the case, if he w o u l d m i n d speaking to his parents about his language loss; I wanted to check whether his parents might be able to fill i n a few details that Brian was missing. H e thought that w o u l d be fine. Yet, I realized his parents were more than a little bit private when I drove Brian home. After pointing out his house, he  ^This was surprising because he wasn't even sure about his ball park figures. He thought his dad was in his fifties, maybe, and that his mom was still in her forties. He guessed that because he assumed they were in their twenties when they immigrated to Canada.  148 asked me to drop h i m off a few doors away. He didn't offer an explanation. I didn't ask. Our third interview was also scheduled out at the university, very soon after our second interview. We met i n the basement of the Student U n i o n Building, and one of the first things that Brian mentioned was that his parents refused to talk to h i m about language loss when they found out that he was participating i n this research study. They were very upset that he had volunteered. I offered to give back his transcripts and tapes, but he wanted to complete the interviews. I began to suspect that talking about losing Korean, and about the times when it had affected his life, was something that Brian found himself benefiting from. Even though he knew his parents were directly opposed to his participation i n the research project, he still continued w i t h it. Even though participating necessitated inconvenience for h i m because he obviously couldn't meet me at his home, he still expressed a keen interest i n w o r k i n g w i t h me. I therefore reformulated m y opinion of how m u c h impact losing Korean had had on Brian's life. I thought that it had had a greater influence than he recognized—or was willing to admit. Perhaps to m y discredit, I also wanted to include Brian's story because he participated i n the face of his parents' opposition. Although I suspected that it w o u l d limit what he might say, I wanted to explore their negative feelings about his participation. Unfortunately for me, I was left mostly w i t h speculation. Brian d i d not know w h y his parents were so private. H e thought that they just wanted to keep to themselves. I thought that perhaps they were afraid of finding out that they had "done something wrong" that had caused their son to lose his first language because, i n interviews w i t h parents i n another study, I had found this to be an almost universal fear. Brian and I also discussed the possibility that his parents were ashamed or shy i n front of English-speaking people; Brian's parents had apparently never welcomed his o w n school friends into their home, even though he frequently  149 dined or slept over at his friends' houses. W e came up w i t h many possibilities, but no conclusions, except that first language loss was something that his parents d i d not want to discuss, for whatever reason. Another reason I wanted to include Brian's story is that I completed m y interviews w i t h h i m before I completed m y interviews w i t h anyone else. Although I started interviewing several other people before I began working w i t h Brian, we scheduled our interviews tightly into the space of about three weeks, because of Brian's w o r k commitments. Because Brian's story came first, I felt that I had not developed the knack of actively listening to stories, nor had I really begun to synthesize the stories into any coherent patterns, nor had I made any concrete decisions about how the life stories w o u l d take shape after the interviews were complete. 40 I wasn't particularly adept at asking questions w h i c h w o u l d lead into stories rather than opinions or short replies. I wasn't confident about what kinds of questions to ask the subjects, whether I w o u l d give them a direction and prompts, or whether I w o u l d be able to access the k i n d of stories that I wanted without leading. Finally, apart from some vague notion that The Canterbury Tales was a fitting model for the stories and their introductions, I didn't know what k i n d of narratives w o u l d be written. I thought it was important to see what k i n d of story w o u l d be produced between a "raw" life history interviewer and an equally "raw" interviewee. I thought that together we might produce the closest thing to a story that was un-influenced by a priori theory that I was going to be able to write. I also wondered what a more experienced (or perhaps jaded) eye might bring to the analysis later, whether I w o u l d see only missed opportunities, or I might also see some merit. I saw more missed opportunities—but then, that was the case w i t h all of the life stories.  ^Brian's story was not, therefore, given a "member check". As with all stories that were not "member checked" however, he did receive copies of the transcripts so that any mistakes could be corrected.  150 One other fact about Brian's life made me eager to include his story. Brian describes his life as "pretty static" (July 6th, 1995, p. 15) by w h i c h he means that he lived i n the same house all the w a y through school. He attended one elementary school, one high school, and i n general led a pretty constant life. H e didn't need to make new friends during his school years, nor d i d his family become disrupted i n any way. There are therefore few other losses i n Brian's life other than the loss of his first language. A n d there are few outside influences that w o u l d have been considered traumatic, therefore it is more difficult to speculate about possible disruptive influences that may have predisposed h i m to first language loss. The Life History Context Brian's parents immigrated just two or three years prior to his birth. H i s father, w h o had completed a college diploma i n electronics, was able to find a good job i n his field, after completing an English course and spending some time engaged i n employment that Brian knows nothing about. H i s mother, on the other hand, who was an artist w i t h a university degree i n art i n Korea, was never able to return to her talents i n Canada, perhaps because she never d i d take English language courses and never became very familiar w i t h the language. She w o u l d sometimes take o n a part time position designing and painting greeting cards or working i n a flower shop to augment the family income w h e n they had a specific goal i n mind, but she never worked as an artist after immigrating. Brian was born i n November, 1973 somewhere i n the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, but he isn't sure where. In the first years of his life, before Brian started school, he and his parents moved many times, to many different municipalities i n Greater Vancouver. Brian doesn't recall m u c h of his life at that time, nor has he talked to his parents about it. H e knows that his father recently celebrated fifteen years w i t h a major B. C. utility company, but he doesn't know what his father d i d during the years w h e n they moved from place to place. The  151 family eventually settled and bought a house just prior to Brian's entry into school. They chose to live i n a predominantly-Italian neighbourhood i n w h i c h they were the only Koreans, practically the only Asians, and they isolated themselves from the Korean community. Especially considering that Brian's mother never learned to speak more than a few words of English, I find it surprising that they isolated themselves so completely. Brian claims that his parents didn't stress the importance of integration into Canadian society—in fact, they avoided outside social contact—so it is doubtful that could have been their motivation. Although at first I dismissed Brian's family as very strange, I slowly came to believe that Brian just didn't sufficiently understand his parents to discuss too much w i t h them. Brian told me that, even i n day-to-day conversations w i t h his parents, particularly his mother, frustration and misunderstanding was the result. H i s mother and father w o u l d often exclaim "oh, y o u should start learning Korean again" (June 21,1995, p. 2) because they were unable to communicate what they wanted to say i n English. Brian also gave examples of the kinds of things he still understands i n Korean,—"commands mostly. Just 'hurry up', 'get this', 'go there', things like that" (July 6th, 1995, p. 6)—which he claims represent the type of conversations he has w i t h his parents. H e also mentioned that his mother cannot use time or monetary expressions i n English, and he doesn't understand Korean numbers at all. N o t only d i d this lead me to believe that Brian and his parents just don't share the language skills to be able to talk about the past or anything deep or personal, but he also claimed that, To begin with, I don't really think I really talk to them about things like this, so that's where I mean I still talk to m y friends mostly about things like that. A n d so, w h e n we do talk, it's mostly about the weather's nice, and I mean it's not that shallow, but i n terms of social things, it's mostly w i t h m y friends that I discussed that stuff. (July 6th, 1995, p. 8)  152 Although Brian claims he "doesn't" talk to his parents about social things, I suspect, given several of his other comments, that "doesn't" is a direct result of an original "couldn't". A t the age of three-and-a-half or four, Brian was enrolled i n an Englishspeaking preschool w i t h a Caucasian teacher, w h i c h "...was okay then because it wasn't~it didn't revolve completely around languages; there was a lot of arts and things..." (June 21,1995, p. 1). Brian was therefore i n grade one or two, he isn't sure which, w h e n he was first sent to an ESL teacher. H e remembers his ESL classes as being very helpful and very comforting to him. H e was the only A s i a n i n ESL, and even the Italian students w h o were i n ESL classes w i t h h i m were better off i n English than he was because they had had some exposure to English prior to beginning school. Brian had been exposed to English only at preschool where, presumably, he didn't interact socially very much because he didn't learn very much English. H e knows that his English skills were poor because he remembers clearly being i n his regular classroom, and whenever he was called u p o n to do something, he w o u l d start crying because he didn't understand what was going on. Brian's first and second grade teacher was Japanese-Canadian, while his ESL teacher was Indo-Canadian. H e feels that having visible minority teachers made his adjustment easier, partly because they recognized the need to help h i m "not only w i t h my language, but with~with just the customs and traditions of the western~you know, western, or Canadian~or Canadian, life" (June 21,1995, p. 1). But one thing about his ESL teacher's practice was disturbing to me. W h e n Brian didn't seem to be making fast enough progress i n learning English, she suggested to his parents that they begin speaking English at home to help h i m , a very common theme amongst participants w h o lost their first languages. Brian credits her w i t h being "the person I have to thank for my language abilities today" (June 21,1995, p. 1). Yet, at the same time, he recognizes that the language shift i n their home  153 signaled the beginning of the loss of Korean. Moreover, several other statements that Brian made, indicate that he is somewhat aware that losing Korean wasn't entirely necessary to learning English well. First, Brian mentions that the Italian students who formed the bulk of the ESL class have remained his friends throughout the years. H e therefore knows that the majority of them still speak Italian at home, and have remained entirely fluent i n their first language. H e speculated that, I don't know, maybe they're-possibly it was because they had some English already, like most of the Italians, and so, y o u know, the ESL teacher didn't have to say "don't speak Italian at home" because their English was a bit better, so I probably think that was the main reason. (July 6th, 1995, p. 2) Brian is obviously aware that home language shift caused his language loss, but, what is more interesting are the reasons he attributes to his teacher's recommendation. Although the language loss literature frequently cites parental language shift as one of the causes of first language loss (see, for example, Pan & Berko Gleason, 1986), and although researchers such as M i l k have claimed that teacher attitudes ranging from outright disapproval to benign neglect of the first language are often contributors to parental language shift, to m y knowledge, no one has ever looked at whether this advice is more often given to students w h o begin school completely L I monolingual. If this is the case, there may be reason to further stream ESL students, separating those w h o have less language ability from those w h o have more i n order to prevent this k i n d of advice from being dispensed. There is also a need to inform teachers about the possible consequences of their advice. The second hint that Brian gave that giving up Korean at home wasn't entirely necessary is found i n his description of his parents. H e said of them, I think that w h e n I started out especially, m y parents were pretty protective of me, and they didn't let me hang out w i t h other friends quite a bit, and because of that I think I really only talked to m y parents~for a while anyway. A n d I think maybe that was one of the  154 reasons~if I could talk to my parents just i n Korean, that wouldn't have helped. I w o u l d have just learned English at school, and then come back and speak Korean. (July 6th, 1995, p. 4) Here, Brian seems to be pointing out that his parents' choice to isolate themselves from the community also contributed to his first language loss. The problem, it appears, wasn't so m u c h that Brian was speaking Korean at home, but that he wasn't speaking English anywhere but i n school i n formal circumstances. H a d he been able to spend more time interacting w i t h his peers, w o u l d his English language development have been hastened without reducing the Korean input he received at home? W h e n I asked Brian what he thought, he replied only "probably" (July 6th, 1995, p. 4). Brian also displayed a tendency to blame himself for developing monolingually rather than bilingually. Rather than connecting the different strands i n his life to recognize a pattern that robbed h i m of his first language, Brian pointed out that many Asians have been able to keep their first languages while learning to speak English. H e therefore concluded that "I guess it was just me" (July 6th, 1995, p. 2), i m p l y i n g that he was somehow innately linguistically inferior to other people and that is the reason he had lost his first language. H e implies that he just wasn't smart enough, or perhaps not hard-working enough, to be able to learn and keep two languages. This was something I came across often i n m y research project, finding myself offering reassurance that participants were not of below average intelligence and should certainly not blame themselves for what we both regarded as an unfortunate linguistic situation. Brian d i d well throughout school, even making it into the top reading group by the time he was i n grade three. H e does admit, however, that he probably didn't belong i n the top reading group, that his teacher liked h i m and wanted h i m to rise to a challenge and so she placed h i m i n the group. But his grade three teacher also engaged i n classroom practice that I find questionable, particularly w h e n there are  155 ESL students i n the class. According to Brian, they often wrote standardized school tests and the teacher w o u l d read out the names of people w h o failed, ones who didn't do w e l l , so they'd have to write it again. But I remember one time when I didn't pass and everyone else—in m y group anyway—did pass, and she read out everyone else's name, but I guess spared me the disgrace. I w o u l d have been pretty upset if I heard just m y name. She d i d that a couple of other times too, and I think that was pretty good of her. Just to be singled out for failure~I don't think that's-. (July 6th, 1995, p. 4) Brian was really grateful to the teacher, a teacher he remembers as being Caucasian, for trying to spare h i m embarrassment, but I'm afraid that m y o w n reaction to his story is less generous. First, the teacher wasn't doing Brian any favours by placing h i m i n the top reading group where, as he said, "I knew I didn't belong" (June 21,1995, p. 2). W h e n he received not only the lowest mark i n the top reading group o n the standardized tests, but the lowest mark i n the entire class, I am left to wonder what her rationale for setting h i m up for constant failure could possibly have been. Second, reading out the names of students w h o fail a test seems rather cruel. I think the fact that Brian remembers that class so clearly, and that he pointedly remembers the teacher's racial background, both speak volumes about how much he feared public humiliation. I, for example, do not remember anything at all about m y primary grades except for a substitute teacher w h o handed back tests once from the highest to the lowest grade, and I got the highest grade so I was very proud. I remember making a mental note of w h o got the lowest marks and, to this day, I remember the names a n d / o r faces of the classmates w h o d i d . I don't think these are the kinds of memories we should be carrying forward into adulthood. Third, and finally, the teacher was, however unintentionally, setting Brian up for failure. W h e n he passed into grade four and he had a different teacher, he was demoted to the intermediate reading group. Brian subtly criticized his grade three teacher saying that demotion to the intermediate group, though embarrassing,  156 "...helped because...I was w i t h people w h o were at m y level, and I worked hard at it" (June 21,1995, p. 2). It is characteristic of Brian, i n these interviews, to cast a positive light on all of his experiences, even ones that were polar opposites. Brian continued through school without difficulty. H i s marks improved as he became more and more familiar w i t h English, though, like Helena (below), he always got good grades for his writing content and poor grades for his grammar. H e also feels that his pronunciation is rather poor, giving as an example, not knowing whether he should say "taciturn" or "takiturn". G i v e n that most people wouldn't even try to use this w o r d i n normal conversation, I feel that Brian perhaps is using a very elite comparison group, some of his peers at university, i n order to judge his o w n English abilities. H e agreed that is a possibility. Intriguingly, although Brian can still understand several basic Korean commands, he, like Lara, w o u l d be unable to repeat what he just heard his parents say. Even more intriguingly, despite being unable to speak Korean at all, Brian often finds that other Korean people talking to h i m on the telephone w i l l recognize his ethnicity. A s an example, he explained that he worked i n a telemarketing job recently and he had to telephone a lot of Korean people at home. H e said, I didn't k n o w they were Korean, but, for some reason they could understand that I was Korean even though I was speaking English. Because, because of m y hesitations and the way I talk, it's still~they could tell I'm Korean, and I found that a couple times. A couple times they just asked me straight out "are y o u Korean?" and I'd go "yes". (June 21st, 1995, p. 3) Brian has also found that his Korean ethnicity has been recognized by Korean students at his part time job. W o r k i n g as a conversationalist, testing the oral proficiency of immigrant students i n an international school, he has found that the Korean students feel a special affinity for h i m , and he for them. In all honesty, when I spoke to Brian during our interviews, I could not understand w h y other Korean people w o u l d recognize his speech patterns as  157 Korean. The only differences I detected were w o r d choice mistakes—like saying "he took me under his arms" (July 6th, 1995, p. 10) instead of saying "he took me under his wing", or non-specific grammatical errors. Even when I spoke to h i m on the telephone, I didn't notice anything that w o u l d have marked h i m as Korean. He used common slang and a number of the features of "valley" speech that Helena (see below for explanation) had also used, making h i m sound like any other young adult I had been acquainted with. I began to wonder what the markers for having once spoken Korean are, and whether there are markers i n every language that w o u l d help to identify people w h o had once previously spoken that language. This idea was reinforced by Lara's claim that she was able to detect the accents of people w h o had spoken Finnish up until the time they were ten to twelve years old, and that she was able to distinguish the level of fluency people had attained i n Finnish by their accents. After finishing high school, Brian began studying genetics at U B C , following a course of study his parents hope w i l l lead to medicine, but w h i c h Brian wants to end i n graduate school and genetics research. H e lived i n residence every year, at first preferring to travel home every weekend, and later preferring not to go home at all. In his first year of university, Brian's roommate was also of Korean descent, but Brian found h i m fairly difficult. H a v i n g never spent time around other Korean people, Brian felt that his roommate practiced what he referred to as "reverse racism" but w h i c h could probably more accurately be called just plain racism: H e is absolutely against any other race but Korean right? Yeah, he's like that. H e won't hang around w i t h any other race or~ it's only Koreans. A n d I asked h i m "why?" and he goes "well, we have to stick together", y o u know, and things like that. A n d I just don't, y o u know, I just don't believe that. (June 21st, 1995, p. 10) Brian confessed that he is very uncomfortable around other Korean people, finds that they tend to form closed groups, and he admits to having no close Korean  158 friends. H e prefers to spend his time w i t h people from many different backgrounds, particularly favouring Italians and the cultural mix that he grew accustomed to i n school. In a limited way, he displays the same kind of animosity toward other Koreans that Ariana felt for other Chinese, hating that "they" want to stick together, and having no desire to travel to the country or connect w i t h relatives still living i n Korea. While i n university, at age 20, Brian also began to understand his parents' situation a little bit more. H e traveled to Israel w i t h the S O R E L program, a program first created by Israeli generals to bring the Jewish Diaspora from many different countries to aid i n the building process. L i v i n g and working i n Israel without any knowledge of the language [s] made h i m more sympathetic to what his parents had gone through i n immigrating: It was just that w h e n I went there I was having so m u c h problems just communicating, and I could just relate to how hard m y parents probably had it too when they first came. A n d , that helped me to understand. I mean, it doesn't help now, but just to understand it, that might help a bit. (July 6th, 1995, p. 9) Brian realizes that his understanding is late i n coming, but he does feel that traveling to Israel made h i m more patient w i t h his parents, and less critical of them. A n d , finally, I asked Brian about other Korean language sources i n his home while he was growing up. D i d he remember any Korean books, or being told Korean stories, or watch Korean videos? H e said that he didn't remember his parents ever reading to him, and certainly not i n Korean. H e remembers his father reading a Korean newspaper, but it has only been i n recent years, w i t h the immigration of larger numbers of Korean families, that they have begun to watch Korean programs and videos. Brian was spoken to little while growing up, didn't have other sources of the Korean language, and was encouraged to begin speaking  159 English at home. It is little wonder that he lost his first language and that his brother, three years younger, never learned to speak it at all. The Narrative Context Brian was the youngest participant whose life story I chose to include. There are few narrative characteristics that I want to point out, but those few are particularly interesting to me. Early i n this research project, I noted i n m y journal that the stories tended to divide naturally into "micro-stories" and "macro-stories". Micro-stories seem to be about isolated incidents, not necessarily tied together into a coherent pattern, sometimes, but not always, remembered i n minute detail. Macrostories are those w h i c h frame a narrative i n terms of history and cause /effect, giving it sense and coherence, but usually very little detail. In general, the younger the person, the more s/he seems to tell a series of confusing micro-stories, while the older participants seem to be more comfortable narrating macro stories. Therefore, younger participants tend to narrate often-unrelated anecdotes, while older participants tend to tell stories that have a beginning, a middle and an end. Brian, as the youngest life story teller here, also tells the most micro micro-stories. Reading transcripts of our interviews is very difficult because he begins a story, then leaves it, sometimes coming back to it, sometimes not, sometimes using only hand gestures or a k i n d of grunting sound to complete his thoughts. Brian's life story was the most difficult one to put together. It had no chronology of its o w n , being just a collage of images. This is noteworthy because of the possible implications. The first thing I thought of attributing it to was an overall change i n narrative patterns that could be occurring. Perhaps, I thought, i n response to media and the "thirty second sound bite", the form of narrative is changing. I began to think that, w i t h our newsoriented culture, we have moved into an era i n which getting something "quick and quotable" is the best way. Storytelling as an art form has gone the w a y of home-  160 baked bread—something we admire and enjoy, but it is just too "organic" for the mainstream. Moreover, television and visual media often rely o n juxtaposition of images to create their message. By relating to me a series of seemingly unrelated images, Brian could have been challenging me to put them together i n the same way that television challenges its viewers, a narrative technique that he had unconsciously assumed. The second idea that occurred to me was that narrative could be changing i n response to changes i n the w a y information is distributed—in interactive rather than transmissive modes. While once teachers and other educators stood before a class and pontificated, while once we saw the sermon and the eulogy as an art form, we now engage i n m u c h more interactive teaching. Audiences are d r a w n into lessons, and are encouraged to think things through, rather than being told how to think. In fact, I have often found this trend to be upsetting when taken too far. Sometimes, particularly i n writing or film that people like to describe as post-modern, the audience has to w o r k altogether too hard to gain any meaning from it at all. Ambiguity rather than clarity seems to be the desired result. W i t h his unfinished sentences and unfinished thoughts, Brian, I thought, was perhaps reflecting the fashionably post-modern, current "invitation into" his narrative that is reflected i n classrooms, allowing me to finish the stories. A third possibility was offered by m y husband, w h o during a casual conversation about what I was working on, sent me running to m y journal to write d o w n what he had said: Satoru said something that might be important about this. H e said it's possible that they haven't really lived enough yet. I thought about that for a while and thought "yeah...it could be that younger people haven't reflected enough to be able to write the stories yet. They're still too close to living them". (Researcher Journal, September 23rd, 1995, p. 33)  161 It is a very distinct possibility that narrative form itself isn't changing, but that it changes w i t h i n individuals over time. A s people age, perhaps they become more able to reformulate their stories so that all of the different threads of their lives tie i n together and create a coherent pattern. Perhaps then, Brian's disconnected narrative was disconnected because he is still i n the process of working so many of these things out i n his life. Perhaps the story he tells i n ten years time w i l l be more reflective, less chaotic, and have a sense of roundedness that it currently lacks. Or, finally, Brian's disconnected narrative could be a direct result of his language experiences. Brian often mentioned during the interviews that he had trouble w i t h putting his school essays and papers together grammatically. H e said he often had to rewrite essays ten or more times i n order to get his point across. H e spoke of needing to use a thesaurus at all times w h e n he is writing because otherwise he w i l l end up using the same limited vocabulary items again and again, not because he doesn't k n o w any other words, but because he can't recall them when he needs t h e m .  41  Brian claims that his grammar is quite poor, that he often writes  run-on sentences, and he attributes these problems to his having once been an ESL student, i m p l y i n g that he still considers himself a non-native speaker of English, even though English is his dominant, his only, language (and even though the 1996 Canadian census w o u l d list h i m as a native speaker of English). Perhaps then, his disconnected narrative is a result of being unable to find the right words, or to monitor his oral performance, or to formulate complete grammatical sentences i n his mind. Perhaps the false starts that are a hallmark of his interviews are symptomatic of more than just temporary losses for words. It is possible that monolingual development i n one language, followed by a complete shift and monolingual development i n another language, d i d leave some linguistic confusion. Because so many of the younger participants i n this research project followed a similar pattern 41  Notice again the similarity to Lara's feelings about vocabulary recall.  162 w i t h the same narrative results, it is hard to find comparisons. This w o u l d be a fruitful line of inquiry i n future research.  163 Brian's Story: Nothing too deep M y parents came to Canada probably about three years before I was born. I was born i n 1973. They came here for opportunity, definitely; that's the main reason I think. They still talk about Korea and how they miss it, but when I ask them "Are you happy y o u came?", they definitely answer "yes". W h e n they came here, everyone was moving to Canada. M y dad's whole family—his brothers and sisters—all moved to here. I almost don't know any relatives i n Korea now because most of them ended up moving here. I only knew m y grandmother w h e n I was little. She was pretty instrumental i n actually teaching me Korean. A l l m y grandparents died, except for m y dad's mother, before I was born, so I knew only one grandmother for only maybe five years or six years. I don't even remember that much of her. W e haven't really kept i n touch w i t h her. M y dad still remembers her, like he still holds the Korean ceremony every time, whenever the anniversary of her death is. O n m y mom's side though, I think she is the only one w h o moved here, so I have a lot of aunts and uncles i n Korea [whom] 42 i ' e never met. I think it has been V  hard on her. M y m o m is pretty shy to begin with, and her English didn't improve as much as m y dad's because m y dad went into school to improve his English, but m y mom didn't. She stayed home and was a housewife, so her English is still not too good. For example, I went traveling last summer and she wrote to me twice. I couldn't understand her letters at all. She can speak some English, but w h e n it comes to writing she has none of the fundamentals of grammar.  I found that Brian was not terribly comfortable with narration. I have made several editorial changes throughout. I did not correct all instances, only those where I felt the story was being interfered with; therefore, there are more changes at the beginning of the story when clarity is essential than toward the end when the context is supplied. When I added words or phrases, those words are in brackets. When the changes were to clarify a pronoun reference, the words are in italics. When the changes are to correct grammar, the words are underlined. 4 i  164 I k n o w my m o m sometimes wishes she was back i n Korea just because her English is so bad and she can't do the things that she'd like to. Y o u know, she'll read my university calendar and she won't understand any of it. She lost a lot of her confidence because she can't speak the language. M y dad's English is okay. Grammatically it's not that good. H e ' l l read and he'll use the wrong tenses and things like that but he'll get his point across and he has a pretty large vocabulary. But he's a pretty confident person i n general. To be honest w i t h you, the only remembrances of m y first language [I have are] what m y parents have told me because I don't have a clear [recollection of] speaking Korean at all. I know I used to because I was a former ESL student. To my parents I spoke Korean fluently. It was the only language that they knew; they [had just come] from Korea about two years [before] so it was completely a Korean household, and all our friends were Korean, and that's where my culture and my language [lay]. So, I guess [the loss of my first language] started out i n preschool. There's that A s i a n hard-work ethic, so I started school really early. W h e n I was three and a half or four, [my parents] put me into preschool. [That] was okay because [preschool] didn't revolve completely around languages—there was a lot of arts and things—and so, I think it was grade one or two, grade one probably, when I was first sent to an ESL teacher. I had a lot of troubles when I started school. I was really shy, so that didn't help i n making friends, and that, [coupled with] moving out for half m y classes to an ESL class, it~it was sort of tough. W h e n I was i n the pre-school, i n grade one, when they were trying to teach me English,~I was just overwhelmed really. I can remember starting to cry i n the classroom, and wanting to go home. I just didn't want to learn really at that point, so I think that was the main reason~it wasn't anything too deep, I don't think. But, I adapted pretty quickly. I don't think I had that tough a time actually. In terms of discrimination, my parents put me into a lot  165 of these summer camps, and y o u know kids right? They're cruel, so of course I had some problems, but it wasn't that bad actually for me. Probably because I was the only A s i a n k i d , they didn't gang up on me or anything. So I don't think I had a tough time growing up. I was probably i n ESL for two years. When the other students had their regular English class, and even after school sometimes, I'd be sent off there. I was the only A s i a n i n that ESL program, and the other students i n m y ESL class were mostly Italian; I think there were some East Indians i n ESL too, but i n the general class altogether there were actually quite a few East Indians. Maybe there were five of us i n grade one ESL, but [the others] had been living here a long time and they had been speaking English most of their lives, so they were quite well off already. W e were put all together, and we had to get to know each other just because we were all there together and because we couldn't speak English so well. W e sort of bonded together; I kept i n touch w i t h some of them throughout the years, and some of them are still m y good friends. I remember m y ESL teacher was an East Indian woman, and she was very nice. It was probably easier for me to interact at first because m y ESL teacher and grade one and two teacher were visible minorities. M y ESL teacher is probably the person I have to thank for m y language abilities today. I think the ESL teacher especially helped me, not only w i t h m y language, but with~the customs and traditions of the western, Canadian life. I eventually gained the language pretty fast, but, because I was still speaking Korean at home, it sort of hindered m y movements up. M y teacher told m y parents not to speak Korean at home, to speak English as much as possible, and I guess that's when I first started to lose m y language. It was because I wasn't improving too well i n English i n school. I think that, w h e n I started out especially, m y parents were pretty protective of me, and they didn't let me hang out w i t h other friends quite a bit, and because of that, I really only talked to m y  166 parents, for a while anyway. I think maybe that was one of the reasons; if I could talk to m y parents just i n Korean, that wouldn't have helped. I w o u l d have just learned English at school and then come back and [spoke] Korean [at home]. Because I was exposed to so much Korean, my ESL teacher told m y parents to try to speak English at home and that's w h e n I started to lose it. After that, m y English improved pretty fast. Most of the Italians still spoke Italian at home. They've actually kept their languages. Because they had some English already, the ESL teacher didn't have to say "Don't speak Italian at home" because their English was a bit better than mine, and that was because I was just speaking Korean all the time. It was probably better for her to say "Don't speak Korean at home" so that m y English w o u l d improve. By the time I was i n grade three I actually was i n the top reading group. There was three reading groups—beginner, intermediate, and the advanced—and I was i n the advanced reading group. I don't think I really belonged there; I think it was mostly because the teacher liked me and she thought I w o u l d do better i n it. She thought being i n there w o u l d maybe improve my English even more. But I know I didn't belong there because we used to have school tests. I was i n the first reading group, no longer i n ESL, and we w o u l d have these standardized tests. Usually she'd read out the names of people w h o failed, ones w h o didn't do well, so they'd have to write it again, but I remember one time when I didn't pass and everyone else i n m y group d i d pass, she read out everyone else's name but, I guess, spared me the disgrace. I w o u l d have been pretty upset if I heard just my name as a failure. She d i d that a couple of other times too and I think that was pretty good of her. Every time I w o u l d probably do the worst of everyone i n the tests, and when she called out the names of those w h o passed and failed the test, she w o u l d never call out my name and say I was the only one w h o failed; she'd call out the name of  167 everyone w h o ' d passed, just so that I wouldn't feel bad. Just to be singled out for failure, I don't think that [would have been]-. But I knew I didn't belong. In grade four w i t h a different teacher I was put back d o w n into the intermediate level. I think it helped because I was w i t h more people w h o were at my level and I worked hard at it. W h e n I was a k i d I was pretty polite and really hard-working and—actually it's a shame I grew up really—so I moved on to grade five and six and seven all at the intermediate level. M y marks improved just because I knew the English. I could understand what they were teaching i n science and art and music and history. W h e n I was i n grade seven, my grade seven teacher thought I w o u l d be someone w h o could introduce a new girl from Portugal to Canadian life, I guess because I used to be an ESL student. But, I couldn't help her. W h e n he made the seating arrangement, he made us sit together, and it was good. I mean, I got to know her quite well, and, I mean, she still didn't interact well w i t h other people and [make] friends, just because a lot of people still made fun of her. They didn't really give her a chance, w h i c h I thought was pretty sad. They w o u l d make fun of her accent constantly. They wouldn't... whenever she w o u l d say something, they made fun of her, so, of course, she was discouraged, and so her English didn't improve too much i n that sense. But she was an ESL student also. W h e n we had our English group sessions, she w o u l d usually be sent to the ESL room downstairs, w h i c h was the same thing that [had] happened to me too. But she moved away, so I don't know what happened to her. By then I had completely lost Korean. I can still understand some of it because m y parents still, w h e n they get angry or they want to say something i n a hurry, they'll speak i n Korean, but, i n terms of speaking it, or reading it, or writing it, or even understanding native Korean speakers, I have no clue; it's absolutely gone. Of course, I don't understand everything. Commands mostly. Just "hurry  168 up", "get this", "go there", things like that. I can't say them, I couldn't even repeat them, but I can completely understand those things. I just don't even think about it. I don't know w h y ; it's just i n there. I think it's sort of sad that I don't understand Korean because we have a lot of relatives w h o come over from Korea—they knew me w h e n I was little when I could speak fluently—and when they find out I can't speak Korean anymore they get pretty upset. They don't get angry, but they can't believe it; they can't understand w h y I lost it that fast. A n d every year m y parents say "oh y o u should start learning Korean again", and even I want to too. I've had a lot of trouble communicating w i t h m y parents, especially since now I lost Korean. M y parents tell me all the time "you should try to understand Korean". They say that over and over again. They'll try to say something to me i n Korean because they don't know the words i n English, or they want to say it fast, or they're angry, or something. W h e n I don't understand, they'll get so frustrated and I'll get so frustrated too, because I want them to be able to speak it and I want to be able to understand it—but I can't. Almost every week there's an incident like that. Right n o w I absolutely w i s h I had kept the language. I think it w o u l d come i n so handy just being able to travel, even for jobs, but, just generally, I w i s h I had kept it because I think it w o u l d have helped so much more i n understanding m y parents. Since I was born here, I have a totally western m i n d set. They don't. A t the beginning, m y parents were absolutely intolerable, i n m y eyes. W h e n I was i n high school, and elementary school I had to come home right away for two hours of piano practice, whereas m y friends w o u l d always go "hey do y o u want to play floor hockey?" but I never could because I had to be home. If I was just 15 minutes late I w o u l d get i n so much trouble. I wasn't even allowed to get a job i n high school because they didn't think it was right for me to work when m y dad was working. They thought that if I ended up working I'd be more concerned w i t h  169 money than school. Eventually, just seeing how other families worked helped my parents slowly change. Because I was the oldest one, I ended up teaching them a lot of things too, so I think i n the end they slowly changed. M y younger brother, he's been lucky. M y parents were more westernized while he was growing up. A n d , it wasn't just the mindset. I don't really think I really talk to them about things like [social or emotional issues]. I still talk to my friends mostly about things like that and so, when my parents and I do talk it's mostly "the weather's nice" and things like that. I mean it's not that shallow, but i n terms of social things, it's mostly w i t h m y friends that I discuss stuff. M y parents are very private people, even w i t h us. They haven't really told me about their childhoods, and things like that. To tell you the truth, I don't even know their ages. I w o u l d guess they were twenty something w h e n they came here, so they w o u l d be forty something now. I think they're older than that maybe; I think my dad's i n his fifties. I think m y mom's i n her forties. Sometimes they include us [in family decisions], but [those discussions are] always i n English. It wasn't [a situation] where I w o u l d have any say i n it. They w o u l d decide and they w o u l d do what they were going to do, so I wasn't going to add anything to help them, so, y o u know.... I don't know if that's just the Asian way or language trouble. So eventually I entered high school. I had, and still have, a lot of problems w i t h my English. I have a lot of pronunciation problems. There's still a lot of words that I pronounce wrong, or that I won't even use because I don't know how to pronounce them, even though I understand them~like do you say "taciturn" or "takiturn". I have a lot of problems w i t h that still, and names, especially western names, are a problem. I used to collect baseball cards i n high school and I'd go "I'll trade y o u a M i k e Blower's [blow-ers] card", when it's actually pronounced "blowers" [flowers]. W h e n I talk w i t h m y friends, they w i l l correct my pronunciation or whatever. Maybe it is just because I am i n [the university] setting, but I think  170 generally Canadians don't have pronunciation problems like I do. I find that anyways, w h e n I talk to them. I just have so many problems like that. In grade eight i n high school, I guess more people were concerned w i t h just being cool and things like that and I was still working hard so I was at the top of the class i n grade eight. M y teacher recommended me for English 9 Honours. I took that and I think it totally helped me. Just being put i n an environment where everyone is so good that I have to catch up to them, I had to w o r k so hard, and most of the literature I was reading was challenging. I had been forced to read a lot of books because that's one way the ESL teacher thought that I could improve m y English and so I just read every children's book out, but that was the highest level that I got to. I didn't improve. I didn't read anything that may be considered "good" in anyway; I was still reading Black Stallion stories or the H a r d y Boys, even i n high school. So grade nine and ten introduced me to a whole a new w o r l d of literature. I studied a lot of Canadian literature and really good Shakespeare. Then I went on to English 10/11, w h i c h was two years i n one, and that even improved me even more. I studied so m u c h literature, and I finally understood a lot of words, and it was really good. Then, i n grade 11, instead of taking an English course, I took an English literature course, and that helped me even more. But, creative writing i n the English classes was the hardest for me. What I mostly [would] do, just because I didn't have a lot of words to use,... I'd use the same words over and over again. A n d I think I d i d that all throughout, up to grade five at least, it was constantly using the same words, especially, I remember, the w o r d "then". Even now, w h e n I write essays, I use the Thesaurus quite a bit just to make it sound different. Personally, I find it hard to come up w i t h words, different words, and I still have to use a dictionary just to write essays; it's not completely on my own. I still don't think I'm a good writer. I have to proofread many times for my essay to sound decent, but sometimes m y content is what stands apart I think. I  171 remember i n English 12 it wasn't that m y essays were well-structured; it was mostly my content was good and that's w h y I got pretty decent marks. Maybe I'm just that kind of person. I'm not sure really. But I think it maybe has a bit to do w i t h losing Korean and learning English late. Of course b y [the time I was i n high school my] Korean was absolutely gone. I didn't even use it at home. I'd speak to m y parents i n English and they'd speak to me i n English because their English had improved so it was almost an English household by that time... English-speaking anyways. Then I entered English 12 honours, advanced placement, and that was probably m y best course i n grade twelve. That was how m u c h I'd improved by then. I mean, even compared to people w h o were here all their lives, I could read literature and finally understand it, you know, I could understand it o n a high level, and I think that's sort of a breaking poinf43 for me. I didn't do as well i n first year university English, but I don't think I really tried that hard. I don't think I worked that hard i n first year because it was m y first year away from home and I didn't concentrate at all i n English. I don't really k n o w anything about the Korean culture. If [my parents] hadn't told me all these years, I wouldn't even have k n o w n that I spoke Korean, so it's strange, i n a way. I don't think they really ever read books to me i n Korean, not even children's books. I don't think I've maintained it too well except for food and that's just because that's what m y parents eat at home. In fact, I don't think that [my parents have] maintained it as well either. They don't practice the religion that they grew up on. They don't really wear the clothes that they used to wear^4—that Because "breaking point" has a negative connotation, I later asked Brian to define what he meant by it. He replied: "I still wasn't really clicking in all through my high school years in English anyways; my marks weren't as high as the other people. But in grade 12 my marks suddenly rose and were better than average, even though it was an Honors class...I think it was mainly because of my teacher, that did it, and I think then that's when I felt that I wasn't, you know, just hanging on sort of thing." I find this reference to Korean clothing very peculiar. During our interviews, Brian several times mentioned not even knowing what traditional Korean clothing, what his parents probably wore, looked like. It surprised me that he was unaware that Korean fashion is very westernized; he seemed to assume that the clothing worn in Korea was quite different from that worn here. 43  44  172 probably wouldn't be practical here—and they're not really into hanging out w i t h Korean friends and so, i n that respect, probably m y parents too [have lost the culture]. I don't really follow the culture, but I don't think I've followed it to a great extent. I don't think I've totally ignored it either because I do read Korean books and things like that—in English, but just on Korea. They're not anything deep or anything, they're not Korean literature, just maybe more like fact-based books o n the country. Actually I don't pick them out myself. M y parents make me read them. So I don't really read them~not out of ...[personal cultural interest]. But, it hasn't bothered me or anything, just because I can't remember anything of speaking Korean; it just [doesn't really bother me]. I don't have any feelings for it, for the loss~I haven't really thought about it much.  173 Helena: Introduction The Interview Context The first time I visited Helena's apartment, I admired it immensely. It was an older, two-bedroom apartment w i t h hardwood floors, fairly nicely furnished, and she shared it w i t h a roommate w h o gave us a lot of space. I couldn't help but look around a little bit, wishing that I had had an apartment like hers w h e n I was twentyfive, instead of the urban slums m y student budget had allowed. There were lots of windows, and even though we sat i n the dining room, the furthest point from the windows i n the apartment, there was still a lot of natural light. We established a pattern w i t h that first interview, one that I chose, and then grew to dislike. W e w o u l d sit at the dining room table, o n hard maple chairs, w i t h the tape recorder i n between us, and I w o u l d anxiously shift positions, crossing my legs, uncrossing them, sitting w i t h my feet up on the chair, sitting o n one foot, sitting on my hands, standing, and generally casting longing glances at the comfortablelooking sofa about fifteen feet away. I had my back to the wall, and Helena w o u l d either sit directly across the table from me, or to my left. I preferred it when she sat directly across from me because then I could see her wonderfully expressive face, and see both of her hands w a v i n g w i l d l y while she talked. It soon became apparent, though, that just prior to m y first visit Helena and her roommate had cleaned the apartment i n honour of Helena's impending parental visit. D u r i n g each successive interview I w o u l d find myself i n a messier apartment, claustrophobically wedged into m y chair against the wall by a hamster cage, several boxes and a large bicycle belonging to Helena's boyfriend. Remnants of Helena's recent twenty-fifth birthday celebration also festooned the dining room, as d i d several articles of clothing. The funny thing was that I liked it. I, the person who, even after having broken m y lower back i n an accident, wouldn't lie still if I felt that the vacuuming should be done, the same person who w o u l d always start collecting  174 dishes and bottles to take to the kitchen at other people's parties, and whose cleanser of choice is bleach served straight up, no gloves, found myself completely comfortable i n their home. W h e n I met Helena, she was at a k i n d of crux point i n her life. First, she had celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday one week prior to our second interview, and therefore, as she said, So, [participating i n this research project] is like huge. It is like perfect timing because I've been so reflective for the past two weeks. (July 26th, 1995, p. 1) Helena was reflecting about her Hungarian heritage, her culture, and, oddly enough, her language loss. She was already grappling w i t h the question of whether she should just walk away from what she remembered of the Hungarian language, or whether she should pursue it and try to further her knowledge of it, thus keeping it. Helena felt very strongly that she was "on this line", that she had "to decide pretty quick", because her parents were aging and, definitely w h e n m y first parent passes away that's going to be a very emotionally charging thing. It's going to really start hitting me that it's the end of having access to it. (August 8th, 1995, p. 26) Secondly, Helena was also i n a reflective period i n her life because her parents came to visit her between our first and second interviews. This meant that she spent long hours discussing her language loss w i t h her parents w h e n they were visiting, checking her stories and asking to hear other stories about her language experiences, w h i c h led her to comment to me that "it was a really good thing for y o u that they came" (July 26th, 1995, p. 9). Because Helena and her parents had not been particularly close for many years, their visit was especially important i n this respect. Even prior to our meetings, Helena was trying to understand the role that they played i n her life, and the reasons w h y their relationship had fared so poorly for so  175 many years. W h e n she read i n the newspaper about m y research project, therefore, she felt a strong p u l l that it was meant for her: I mean, I really believe some things are fate because, I mean, I wasn't at work that day, and it was a matter of me going d o w n and getting the paper and then flipping to it, and reading it, and going "holy smokes". A n d it wasn't even a matter of putting it away and later calling, or thinking about it, it was like I k i n d of walked to the phone and said "can I participate?" (August 8th, 1995, p. 27) Moreover, Helena's parents' visit was important to our interviews i n other ways. First, Helena was able to ask her parents a lot of questions and discover things that she hadn't known. For example, until this visit, Helena had not k n o w n that her father didn't speak a w o r d of English until she was two years old. U n t i l that time, he had not had enough exposure to the English language to feel confident i n expressing himself at all. She also found out that her mother had fallen into the same pattern, not understanding anything for the first two or three years and therefore being unable to speak English. While her parents were visiting, Helena was also able to go to a Hungarian restaurant close to her house that she had always been too shy to go to alone. She realized that she felt embarrassed and ashamed at being unable to express herself i n Hungarian, and therefore she knew she w o u l d never go to that restaurant again. Second, w h e n her parents arrived, Helena had already completed one interview w i t h me and felt that she had some understanding of what I might want to know. She found herself noticing things, because of m y questions for h e r ,  45  that she  hadn't noticed before. For example, Helena realized that i n her conversations w i t h her parents, she was constantly being called u p o n to understand a Hungarian w o r d from context, a n d / o r to supply the English w o r d for her parents: A n d then m y dad w i l l say a word. I don't know what it is and then I'd listen to the context of the sentence, and I'd say "Oh y o u mean a Although I had asked few questions at this point, I had given Helena a list of the types of questions I might ask in later interviews. 45  176 whatever", and then he'd say "yeah". So I learn that w o r d , and then the next time he uses it, I know what he means. A n d then I don't end up having to fix it for him, I end up just going "Oh, I know what y o u mean". A n d then,~and so somehow I'm learning all these words, but I don't use them myself, but for h i m to use it, I know what he means. (July 26th, 1995, p. 10) Helena also found herself listening to her parents' speech more carefully. She noticed that, although she told me during our first interview that her parents always spoke Hungarian together, her parents actually code switch even when they are speaking only between themselves, and "they throw i n English words whenever it's just easier for them to now, so they're k i n d of losing it too" (July 26th, 1995, p. 26). A third thing that "emerged" during Helena's parental visit was actually noticed by her boyfriend. Helena's boyfriend, Lawrence, complained to her that he had to concentrate w h e n he was trying to listen to her parents and to understand them. He found their conversations almost impenetrable because Helena, too, w o u l d adopt her parents' speech habits, and, as Lawrence said, her "vocabulary just went downhill" while her parents were around. Helena was completely unaware that this was happening. N o t only d i d her vocabulary deteriorate, but Lawrence also pointed out that her language "totally declined while they were here, and easily about three or four days after they left" because she ended up "talking like they did". After three or four days, he said, she finally "climbed back up to be able to speak" (July 26th, 1995, p. 6). Despite the fact that Helena often commented how grateful she was to her boyfriend for constantly correcting her grammar and criticizing her speech, rather patronizing and inappropriate behaviour to m y way of thinking,46 I think that there is an important point i n this. G i v e n that Helena's speech became non-standard when she was around her parents, credibility is given I f this were a dissertation on anti-racist and non-ethno-centric thought, rather than on language loss, I would analyze the language that Lawrence used to describe Helena's speech, pointing out that her language could be viewed as "richer" rather than "poorer" because it was flavoured by Hungarian words and phrases, and also pointing out that she may not have "climbed back up" to be able to speak, but instead may have climbed back down. 46  177 to the argument that parents should not be encouraged to give up the first language i n the home i n favour of English, because the English that they model for their children w i l l likely be non-standard, reinforcing rather than correcting poor English language skills. But finally, more importantly for me, Helena, like Ariana, seemed reluctant to allow me to interview her parents.  47  While Ariana said that she w o u l d talk to her  mother about being interviewed, and then managed to avoi