First-Language Attrition in Bengali-English–Speaking Individuals Multilingual immigrants who live in an environment that does not support their first language (L1) can experience changes in their L1. Such changes, over long periods of time, can lead to attrition in L1. Existing studies examining L1 attrition have been focused on European languages and immigrants between the European ... Article
Article  |   March 2012
First-Language Attrition in Bengali-English–Speaking Individuals
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Hia Datta
    Molloy College, New York, NY
  • Hia Datta completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, where she worked with Dr. Jason Zevin on understanding the nature of second-language processing in immigrant communities in New York by using behavioral and imaging methods such as electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging. She recently accepted a tenure track position at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in Molloy College, New York.
    Hia Datta completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, where she worked with Dr. Jason Zevin on understanding the nature of second-language processing in immigrant communities in New York by using behavioral and imaging methods such as electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging. She recently accepted a tenure track position at the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in Molloy College, New York.×
  • © 2012 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity
Article   |   March 2012
First-Language Attrition in Bengali-English–Speaking Individuals
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, March 2012, Vol. 19, 21-28. doi:10.1044/cds19.1.21
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, March 2012, Vol. 19, 21-28. doi:10.1044/cds19.1.21

Multilingual immigrants who live in an environment that does not support their first language (L1) can experience changes in their L1. Such changes, over long periods of time, can lead to attrition in L1. Existing studies examining L1 attrition have been focused on European languages and immigrants between the European and American continents. A group of researchers at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) sought to understand L1 attrition in South Asian immigrants with L1s that are very different in structure from English. In this study, we examined the relationship between language-use and language-immersion patterns that affect first and second language (L2) performance in Bengali-English speaking multilinguals. Language performance was measured by two lexical tasks—a picture-word task and verbal fluency measures—in both Bengali and English.

Results indicated that decreased L1 use and low self-reported ratings of L1 predicted L1 attrition in these Bengali-English speaking individuals. Results also indicated that the earlier individuals are immersed in an L2 environment, the more likely it is that their first language will be affected by attrition. Thus, frequent use of L1 is important in order to maintain it, especially for immigrants who wish to pass their L1 on to future generations.

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