I have recently published a book about new speakers of three minority languages: Breton, Yiddish and Lemko. One of my main aims was to demonstrate that certain aspects of “newspeakerness” seem to be common across a number of different situations of language minoritization.
Common features included:
- non-intergenerational acquisition of the language, even though many of the people interviewed for the book had family members who spoke the language in question fluently;
- a struggle over their status as “legitimate speakers”, that is, wider recognition of their speakerhood; and
- a need to establish a sense of ownership of the language they were new speakers of, in order for it to become (one of) “their” language(s).
A reaction I was not expecting to the publication of the book was contestation over its title.