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Discussion

The following is a brief discussion of the creation and implementation of FLP, and place, purity and multilingualism, all in the context of the present study and existing literature.

Policy Creation and Implementation

The present authors put forth that the FLP of each of the families in question has been successful - all four informants are fluent in both Swedish and Estonian (Latvian also in the case of M1), are successfully rooted in Estonia and have strong links to the Swedish-Estonian community in Stockholm, have a healthy regard for their linguistic and cultural heritages and are secure in their diverse identities. However, this has all occurred despite the apparent lack of explicit and strict policy measures (at least as seen by the narratives constructed in the interviews). Is it that children are not fully aware or understanding of their parents’ policy decisions and measures? Or perhaps it is the case that the young adults have forgotten, or maybe that the policies in question were subtle and passed unnoticed? In such a case, what are the elements of successful but subtle policies?

In a study on the transmission of Russian in a 10-member strong immigrant family to Israel, Kopeliovich (2010) found that the father was more successful in getting the children to communicate with him in Russian (despite his lack of (explicit) ideology and management strategies) than the mother, who attempted to force the children to speak Russian at every turn. It seemed that the mother’s strong ideological stance and unwavering management caused the children to be oppositional to her strategies and speaking Russian, whereas the father’s willingness to make jokes in Hebrew and his relaxed manner were more conducive to the children speaking Russian.

Who creates policy at the family level? It should be clear that, in the early years of a family, when the children are small, it is the parents/guardians who make the policy decisions, whether or not those decisions are made on the back of much discussion or are taken for granted by the couple in question. However, as the children in the family grow and acquire ever-increasing degrees of autonomy, their agency is increasingly brought to bear on the family language policy (Palviainen and Boyd 2013). There were two cases of reported attempts by the children to amend the family’s language policy: F1 was nnsuccessful in her attempt as a teenager to get her family to use more Swedish in order to practice, while M1 and his brother decided independently of their Swedish-Latvian father to speak to their younger sister in Latvian.

Harding-Esch and Riley (2003, 87) and Kopeliovich (2013, 273) emphasise above all else the importance of the child’s happiness and emotional well-being, while Piller (2001) warns that unrealistic expectations of ‘balanced’ bilingualism can put an unnecessary and damaging strain on a couple’s relationship with its children and can lead to disharmony in the family. In the present study, however, not only were all the FLPs ‘successful’, all informants were thankful that the Estonian language (and Latvian in case of M1) was transmitted to them by their parents. Reasons stated for this revolved around a connection and closeness to Estonia and/ or the diasporic community, and the ethnolinguistic identity that the language gave them, setting them apart for their mono-lingual/cultural Swedish peers. The emphasis placed on these points varied between the informants, but they were present to some degree in all the interviews.

Just like no informant produced narratives in which explicit language management was discussed, no informant stated that they passed through periods of opposition to the FLP. Might the reason for this be connected to the socio-geographical context of the children’s upbringing?

 
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