“We’re hardcore Greeks here” – Family Language Ideologies in Greek-Speaking Families in Sweden

Authors: Zoe Nikolaidou (Södertörn University, Sweden)
Maria Rydell (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Speakers: Zoe Nikolaidou, Maria Rydell
Topic: Language Ideologies
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2021 General Session


This study builds on ethnographic family interviews with seven Greek-speaking families living in Sweden. In this talk, we analyze how language ideologies intersect with the families’ migration trajectories, parents professional and educational background and whether the parents have had a bilingual and bicultural upbringing themselves.

The history of Greek migration to Sweden is dynamic, with a first wave of migration to Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s, followed by a period of re-migration in the 1980s and 1990s. In recent years, the socio-economic crisis in Greece have caused a new wave of migration to Sweden. Our data consists of families who have an intergenerational migration history of moving between the two countries, as well as families who have recently moved to Sweden without earlier bonds to the country. Thus, some of the parents have a multilingual and bicultural upbringing whereas some of the parents have a monolingual background.

Earlier studies on transnational families have shown how language ideologies underpin family language policy (King, Fogle & Logan-Terry, 2008) and how language ideologies shape how the families manage different linguistic and spatial boundaries (Soler & Zabrodskaja 2017). Preliminary results indicate that the families’ language policy and reported practices are influenced by the kind of investment and imagined future outcomes associated with each one of the languages (e.g. emotional, cultural and career-related). These are connected to the advantages and disadvantages that parents and children ascribe to different languages and linguistic practices (cf. Curdt-Christiansen, 2016). Additionally, the analysis illustrates how family language ideologies intersect with and is shaped by parents’ earlier migration experiences, social class (e.g. educational and professional background) and how different ideologies (such as mother tongue ideologies or ideologies of language learning) shape the families reported linguistic practices.


Curdt-Christiansen, Xiao Lan. 2016. Conflicting language ideologies and contradictory language practices in Singaporean multilingual families. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(7):694-709.

King, Kendall A., Fogle, Lyn & Logan-Terry, Aubrey. 2008. Family Language Policy. Language and Linguistic Compass 2(5): 907-922.
Soler, Josep & Zabrodskaja, Anastassia. 2017. New spaces of new speaker profiles: Exploring language ideologies in transnational multilingual families. Language & Society 46(4):547-566.

Keywords: Keywords: Family language ideologies, migration trajectories, multilingualism, social class