“You Know What I Mean?”- Language and Cultural Retention in Luso-Canadian Mothers in the Greater Toronto Area
Vieira, Sara Isabel
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The Portuguese community is one of the largest diasporic groups in the Greater Toronto Area and the choice of retention and transmission of language and culture to Luso-Canadians is crucial to the development and sustainability of the community. The overall objective of this study is to learn about the factors that influence Luso-Canadian mothers’ inclination to teach Portuguese language and cultural retention to their children. To explore this topic I employed a qualitative research design that included in-depth interviews conducted in 2012 with six Luso-Canadian mothers. Three central arguments emerged from the findings. First, Luso-Canadian mothers interviewed posses a pronounced desire for their children to succeed academically, and to provide opportunities that their children that they did not have. Second, five of the mothers attempt to achieve this mothering objective partly by disconnecting from their Portuguese roots, and by disassociating their children from the Portuguese language and culture. Third, the disconnection they experience and enact is influenced by the divisions evident in the Portuguese community in the GTA that divides regions and hierarchically ranks dialects, and groups. I conclude that the children in these households inevitably bear the prospects of maintaining a vibrant Portuguese community in the GTA and I propose that actions by the community in ranking dialects influence mothers’ decisions about transmitting language and culture to their children.