Ethnolinguistic Vitality Through the Aspects of Pupils’ Relation to Language
Keywords: ethnic identity, ethnolinguistic vitality, the Lithuanian language, linguistic attitudes, the language of schoolchildren
AbstractThis article aims to analyse ethnolinguistic vitality of pupils from schools where they are taught in the Lithuanian language in terms of the Lithuanian language usage, proficiency and language assessment. The survey was aimed at assessing the following ethnolinguistic vitality indexes of the analysed group of respondents: (1) language use and domination,(2) language proficiency and motivation to learn, (3) the attitude to the Lithuanian language, and (4) creative powers of language. Ethnolinguistic vitality of different age group pupils is analysed on the basis of an empirical study on the impact of other languages on the Lithuanian language of third- and fourthformers conducted in 2018–2019. The relevance of the study rests on the fact that ethnolinguistic vitality, as ethnic vitality of the Lithuanian linguistic community, has never been analysed before. For the first time, the article sequentially and systematically analyses ethnolinguistic vitality of a group of pupils through the aspects of the relation to language, which allows predicting perspectives of sustainability and continuity of the Lithuanians as an ethnic community. The study data show the tendency that, according to all the aspects studied, as the pupils become older, their vitality as members of an ethnolinguistic group decreases. Moreover, a foreign (English) language is becoming more and more dominant in the pupils’ language as they grow older. When assessing the pupils’ ethnolinguistic vitality in terms of language proficiency, it turned out that the pupils’ learning achievements decreased from the fifth form. As the data show, the majority of the pupils (more than 70 per cent) claim that they are proud of the Lithuanian language as their language, they indicate the connection between the Lithuanian language and their ethnic identity, and they relate the sustainability of the ethnic identity to the language strength – its usage in the ethnolinguistic community. However, the data also reveal the following tendency: the older the respondents are, the fewer of them have an opinion about the significance of the language to the identity of an ethnolinguistic community (from 7.3 per cent in the fourth form to 26 per cent in the eighth form). It can be assumed that a part of the respondents, especially the ones in senior forms, have weak ethnic identity self-concept and linguistic identity, and therefore the native language is being assessed only as the instrument of communication, the same as any other language. Assessment of the pupils’ ethnolinguistic vitality in terms of their linguistic powers and linguistic potential revealed that only a half of the respondents assess the Lithuanian language as a modern language. Weak linguistic self-awareness of pupils is observed in their attitude towards the strengthening of the Lithuanian language powers: less than a half of the respondents agree that the Lithuanian language resources must be expanded. The study data reveal that pupils’ ethnolinguistic vitality in terms of trust in the creative powers of their language, their attitudes to the expansion of the Lithuanian language resources, and giving priority to the use of the Lithuanian language decrease with age.