Language Use, Choice, and Maintenance of 1.5 Generation Filipinos in Hawaiʻi

Barza, Jose Rommel C.
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"Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda." (He who does not love his own language is worse than an animal and a smelly fish.) - Jose Rizal, a Filipino national hero This literary piece tells us the importance of love and appreciation of one's language, since language is the bridge that can connect a country of people to each other. Wolf (1997) stated that, for various historical and cultural reasons, many of which are related to colonial history, Filipinos in the United States appear to be assimilated and successful, tending to integrate into American society in such a way that they are relatively invisible to both the average American and the US academic eye. My curiosity to study 1.5 generation Filipinos in Hawaiʻi is drawn primarily from my travels to different parts of the continental United States (e.g., California, Washington, New York, Florida), where I noticed that some 1.5 generation Filipinos cannot speak their native language. With this study, I want to understand if there are differences in the attitudes and behaviors of 1.5 generation Filipinos living in Hawaiʻi towards the maintenance of their ethnic language. In the context of this discussion, I refer to the 1.5 generation as children born outside the United States who earned part, or most, of their education in the US. In addition, the term “1.5 generation” is a distinct generation of immigrants who have arrived as children, the "in between" generation, separate from the "first" generation of immigrants who migrated as adults and "second" generation of native born (Rumbaut, 2004). With that, I would like to have a better understanding for diasporic Filipinos in Hawaiʻi of what might be of interest in the attitudes and behaviors about their ethnic language maintenance at home and in the neighborhood, and also if there is a concern about an eventual language shift and loss especially in a state with many Filipinos. In addition, I have put focus on the 1.5 generation of immigrants as they are the population that have been documented to be losing their ethnic language at a higher pace (Fillmore, 2000; Lopez, 1996).
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