Rewriting the past and reimagining the future: The social life of a Tamil heritage language industry

Sonia Neela Das

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Globally circulating discourses associated with heritage language industries often promote temporally dichotomous views of spoken and written languages that deny coeval status to linguistic minorities. In the multilingual city of Montreal, Quebec, where Sri Lankan refugees work to preserve a classicalist style of Written Tamil and Indian immigrants work to revitalize a modernist style of Spoken Tamil, this division of labor is undermined by elders and youth who, in mixing colloquial and literary styles of Tamil, French, and English, reframe curricular and nationalist discourses of language loss and degeneration into more empowering narratives of developmental progress and ethnolinguistic identification.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)774-789
    Number of pages16
    JournalAmerican Ethnologist
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2011



    • Globalization
    • Heritage language industry
    • Montreal
    • Tamil diaspora
    • Temporality
    • Urban multilingualism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Anthropology

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