Unintended language maintenance

The English Congregation of a Baptist Chinese church in Western Canada

Huamei Han*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Based on a seventeen-month ethnography in a Baptist Chinese church in Western Canada, this article examines how the establishment of an English congregation for youth in response to language shift in fact facilitated minority language maintenance. Drawing on two ideologies of bi-/multilingualism, I illustrate that, even though perceived as "the second generation who don't understand Chinese", young members were multilinguals with varying degrees of dominance and fluency in Chinese. I further argue that the English Congregation constituted an important space for the socialization of youth with peers and/or adults where Chinese could be used and thus learned, although engagement with the language might differ between individuals and indeed across various stages of their lives. Implications for language maintenance research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-129
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number222
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Canada
  • Chinese church
  • English congregation
  • language maintenance
  • second-generation youth

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