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The Ethnic Group School and Mother Tongue Maintenance in the United States

Joshua A. Fishman and Vladimir C. Nahirny
Sociology of Education
Vol. 37, No. 4 (Summer, 1964), pp. 306-317
DOI: 10.2307/2112114
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112114
Page Count: 12
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The Ethnic Group School and Mother Tongue Maintenance in the United States
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Abstract

Ethnic group schools in the United States no longer seem to require a strong immigrant-ethnic base for their pupils, teachers or parents. The schools have become organizationally protected expressions of marginal ethnicity. They provide a context in which formerly functional mother tongues become cultural "ethnic mother tongues." All available indices reveal that All Day Schools are currently far less imbedded in ethnicity and far less concerned with language maintenance than are all other types of ethnically affiliated schools. When faced by an implied conflict between language maintenance and group maintenance some mother tongue teachers reject both in favor of a superordinate value: the church. Others reject the distinction between language maintenance and group maintenance, considering the two to be inseparable. Still others regretfully abandon language maintenance in order to concentrate on last ditch group maintenance. The dissonance between the theoretical desirability of language maintenance and the practical impossibility of successfully attaining it is resolved by a sharper polarization with respect to future plans than current practices. The strengthening of immigrant religious organizations has proceeded at the expense of traditional ethnicity, pervasive religiosity and the natural language maintenance capacity of homes, neighborhoods and schools.

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