1 Tallinn University, Estonia
DiscussionAccording to Fishman (1991:92), the family acts as a united front against external pressures, and the language of the family is the inevitable ground for this. This paper
primarily focuses on the family language policies that ethnically mixed Estonian families follow in relation to the maintenance of their heritage languages, in
order to identify social variables, which either favour or hinder this process.
The main aim of this study is to search for commonalities and specifics of each
family type within broad categories of the mainstream attitudes towards different
heritage languages. This study is based on an in-depth analysis of a variety of sources, including qualitative sociological materials (semi-structured interviews with parents and participant observations) and quantitative statistical and demographic data on self-reported language behaviour and language ideologies, revealing the “context” of community types. This paper presents results from ethnographic fieldwork studies conducted in different regions of Estonia, and thus offers important conclusions about sociolinguistic variation in heritage language
maintenance and loss. It provides evidence of how social milieu and different sociolinguistic backgrounds may affect all processes related to heritage language transmission: management, maintenance, use and proficiency. Fishman, J.A. 1991. Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance
to Threatened Languages.