Franco-Latvian Children and the Latvian Diglossic Situation

Jonathan Durandin, PhD, researcher
Centre of Cultural Research
Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences
Daugavpils University, Latvia
e-mail: jonathan.durandin@bluemail.ch


Sociolinguistically, Latvia is an example of a conflicting diglossic situation between the Latvian and Russian languages. Most of the research carried out on this sociolinguistic context focuses on the language policies implemented previously and nowadays in this state and on the changes in the language practices and representations of members of the Latvian and Russian-speaking communities during the twentieth century and up to the present day. This paper looks at the same context from a different angle: its aim is to understand how the children of Franco-Latvian families attending school in Latvia view the Latvian diglossic situation and themselves in it and what influences their opinions. Referring to the Dell Hymes model of SPEAKING, the study is based on the analysis of interviews of four children, an 8-year-old Latvian-speaking boy and girl and two 10-year-old Russian-speaking girls attending school in Riga, the capital of Latvia. According to the analysis of their language practices and representations, the interviewed children place themselves in two distinct linguistic environments and value their French-Latvian or French-Russian bilingualism. Detailed analysis of the psychological and social functions that the children attribute to their first languages reveals that they do this to claim a daily life outside the Latvian-speaking context (Russian-speaking children) or to stand out from other people in Latvia (Latvian-speaking children). These two distinct strategies allow the children to place themselves on the fringe of the Latvian diglossic situation.

Keywords: Franco-Latvian children, bilingualism, language practices and representations, language psychological and social functions


How to cite:
Durandin, J. (2020). “Franco-Latvian Children and the Latvian Diglossic Situation.” Journal of Comparative Studies 13 (42), 34–62. https://doi.org/10.59893/jcs.13(42).003