Bernard Spolsky spolsb at
Wed Sep 22 17:01:17 UTC 2004

I am reminded of the congregants in Joshua Fishman's synagogue who were so
impressed by his knowing the Yiddish word for ceiling.
Clearly, in these code-mixing situations, many plurilinguals feel inadequate
(as I do in any language other than English, and regularly in that too.
Bernard Spolsky   spolsb at

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-lgpolicy-list at
[mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at] On Behalf Of Aurolyn Luykx
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 6:28 PM
To: lgpolicy-list at
Subject: Re: non-nons

Hi Stan,
I share your skepticism about "non-nons", and also the experience of hearing
the term used to describe indigenous language speakers/emerging bilinguals
(in Bolivia). But,  often I would hear such speakers use it to describe
themselves, in the context of their experience of being forced (usually in
school) to supress their L1, without ever enjoying adequate opportunities to
learn the L2.

My sense is that what's really happening with
"non-nons" is that they speak non-standard varieties
of each of their two languages, and thus aren't
recognized as "proper" speakers of anything.  On the
other hand, I'm inclined to give some credence to the testimonies of folks
who identify THEMSELVES as "non-nons." Of course internalized linguistic
discrimination can account for some of it, but I also knew plenty of folks
who didn't feel 100% fluent in Quechua because they'd been discouraged from
speaking it since childhood, and also felt unsure in Spanish, in which they
had quite a limited vocabulary, often used words inappropriately, etc. Many
indigenous parents are pressured into using a fairly rudimentary L2 to
communicate with their children, with sad consequences for both language
acquisition and parent-child communication. In any case, questions of
fluency always need to refer to a specific CONTEXT or domain -- even those
of my students who were fluent bilinguals had a lot of trouble discussing
academic topics in Quechua, as well as difficulty discussing certain
cultural domains in Spanish. Aurolyn Luykx

--- Anonby <stan-sandy_anonby at> wrote:

> Interesting.  The "non-nons" sounds like that
> article on "semilinguals" in
> Sweden.  The idea caught on very well among
> non-linguists.  I hear it a lot
> here in Brazil to describe the speech of Indians who
> are shifting to
> Portuguese, and I've heard it in Canada do describe
> Inuit who are shifting
> to English.  But I thought subsequent research was
> never able to prove there
> was any such thing as semilingualism.
> Stan Anonby
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Harold F. Schiffman"
> <haroldfs at>
> To: "Language Policy-List"
> <lgpolicy-list at>
> Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 2:53 PM
> Subject: Program enlists Santa Ana parents as 'first
> teachers'
> >
> >
> > Language Series Speaks to Families
> > Program enlists Santa Ana parents as 'first
> teachers' to help their
> > children develop skills.
> >
> > By Joel Rubin
> > Times Staff Writer
> >
> > September 6, 2004
> >
> > As he has done twice a week for months, 3-year-old
> David Damasio nestled
> > himself between his mother and Ines Victor on the
> family couch in a
> > cramped Santa Ana apartment. Victor opened a
> children's book and began
> > reading in Spanish to the wide-eyed boy, pausing
> frequently to gently
> > pepper him with questions about the story line.
> "Rojo, gris!"  red, gray
> > David said in his native tongue, pointing to
> colored hats on the page.
> >
> > Throughout, Victor kept an eye on Sonia, David's
> mother, to ensure she was
> > paying attention. She pressed the quiet woman to
> mimic her and ask David
> > questions. In coming years, when David enters
> Santa Ana's public schools,
> > he probably will be taught entirely in English. To
> prepare him for that
> > day, he and his mother are working with Victor as
> part of an unusual
> > outreach program rooted in a city with one of the
> country's most
> > concentrated Latino immigrant populations.
> >
> > Started four years ago by UC Irvine cognitive
> scientist Virginia Mann,
> > HABLA helps impoverished Latino immigrant parents
> who often don't know how
> > to build their young children's language skills.
> "Parents are the first
> > teachers, but a lot of these parents don't know
> what to do," Mann said.
> > "We know these early years are when children start
> to learn languages, and
> > if Spanish is the only language you are able to
> teach them in, then that
> > is what you have to do. If a child has language
> skills in Spanish, it will
> > translate into English."
> >
> > HABLA (Home-based Activities Building Language
> Acquisition) serves about
> > 250 families nearly all immigrants from Mexico
> with children between 2 and
> > 4. There are no firmly defined eligibility
> requirements, but Mann and her
> > staff consider only parents with little education
> and low incomes. The
> > mean income for HABLA families is $16,000, and
> parents typically have
> > eight or fewer years of schooling and little
> command of English. Home
> > visitors like Victor work with families over two
> six-month sessions.
> > They bring a Spanish-language book or a toy to
> each half-hour lesson,
> > which is used as the day's learning tool and then
> given to the family.
> > Through reading and play, the home visitors
> demonstrate to parents how to
> > engage their children in the freewheeling
> conversations that help develop
> > a child's vocabulary and language skills.
> >
> > Mann cited research that shows that economically
> disadvantaged parents
> > speak about 300 fewer words each hour to their
> children than more affluent
> > parents do. "There is a vacuum of language, a real
> loss of words." And
> > while early-intervention reading programs similar
> to HABLA have existed in
> > English for years, state education officials said
> Mann's program was one
> > of only a few in California conducted in Spanish
> and that offered home
> > visits.
> >
> > Mann and other child development experts said
> research has made clear that
> > young children who build a foundation of skills in
> their native language
> > are able to learn a second language more quickly.
> "These children will
> > learn English," said Linda Espinoza, a professor
> at the University of
> > Missouri who studies early language development.
> "The question is, will
> > they have the opportunity early on to expand their
> vocabulary and to learn
> > to think abstractly?"
> >
> > In Latino immigrant homes, the answer is often no.
> Espinoza and Harry
> > Pachon, a professor of public policy at USC, said
> undereducated parents
> > whose own parents did not read to them when they
> were young typically do
> > not know how to develop their children's language
> skills. The result, Mann
> > said, are one-way lines of communication in which
> parents often issue
> > orders and ask questions that require a yes-or-no
> response.
> >
> > "I didn't know how to teach my son," said Victor,
> who participated in
> > HABLA before she became a home visitor. "But I
> didn't want the same thing
> > to happen to him that happened to me  the first
> book that was ever read to
> > me was after I started school."
> >
> > Some parents are also reluctant to speak Spanish
> to their children out of
> > fear that it will retard their learning of
> English. Mary Baker, principal
> > of Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana, said
> that when a new class of
> > kindergartners arrives, her teachers can quickly
> tell which children do
> > not have skills in either language. "They often
> don't even know their
> > names," she said. "We call them 'non-nons,' "
> because they are non-English
> > and non-Spanish speakers.
> >
> > Such will not be the case for David Damasio. When
> they leave their
> > apartment, his mother said, they often discuss
> objects or places that he
> > recognizes from books. In similar scenarios with
> her older daughter, Sonia
> > Damasio said, there was silence.
> >
> > As her son rambled excitedly in Spanish, she
> repressed a chuckle and shook
> > her head wearily. "He talks so much," she said.
> >
> >
> >
> >

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail - 50x more storage than other providers!

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list