• Aya Sawahiro
Speciale, Kandidatuddannelsen
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate in which contexts and for which purposes ethnic minorities in Denmark use their mother tongue and the reasons why they emphasize the importance of their mother tongue for them in Danish society. Interviews were conducted with 7 people with ethnic minority backgrounds. They were asked to tell their stories about their language use and life in Denmark since they came to the country.
One of the findings of the investigation is that the respondents use both Danish and their mother tongue in their everyday life in various speech communities of which they are a part. They use languages not only for the purpose of communication but also representation and their identity formation. They constitute their ethnical identities by using their mother tongue.
The other finding is that ethnic minorities use their mother tongue in order to maintain and strengthen their ethnical identity in the society. There is a power relation between Danish language and ethnic minorities’ mother tongues, and the power relation enables the identity of the more powerful group, Danish language, to become less recognizable in the society, and this group constitutes itself as the norm from which others diverge. This power relation is impossible to overcome and ethnic minorities need to recognize it. But at the same time they protest and challenge the power relation by maintaining their speech communities where they establish their mother tongue as the normative language. They do it not just because their mother tongue plays an essential role in their life, but because their ethnical and religious identity has a fundamental significance for them.
The power relation between the languages can be applied to the social relation between ethnic Danish and ethnic minorities in Denmark. The ethnic minorities’ identity is also marked as different in society, and their identity is placed at the marginalized position. By protesting and challenging the power relation through using their mother tongues, ethnic minorities reproduce and strengthen their ethnic and religious identity, as identity formation and their mother tongues are deeply connected.
Udgivelsesdato30 jul. 2012
Antal sider74
Udgivende institutionIVA


  • Etniske minoriteter, modersmål, identitetsdannelse, fortællinger