Saudi Scholars’ Heritage Language and Their Ethno-Cultural Identity in Multilingual Communities: An Exploratory Case Study

Najlaa S. Al-Ghamdi


Immigrant students’ linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity is considered an issue of significance that speaks to the need for more rigorous research, especially in multicultural and multilingual societies. This paper highlights Saudi scholars’ heritage language and the relationship thereof to their ethnic and culture identity and its maintenance dynamics in a multilingual and multicultural society.Employing a case study approach and interviews, the researcher sought to identify the impact of Saudi scholars’ ethno-cultural identity on their heritage language. Analysis of data revealed three broad themes that emerged from the interviews: The first theme indicated that participants of both genders developed a dual cultural identity. The second theme indicated that the proficiency of Arabian scholars and their offspring had a strong impact on the ethno-cultural identity of the parents and the children born and raised in the USA. Third, negative stereotypes could be a potential cause for cultural identity clash. These broad themes seemed to be incongruous with the intricacies identified with cultural and ethnic identity maintenance mechanisms and their impact on heritage language speakers. The results have been discussed with relevance to prior studies and the theoretical framework.


Heritage language (HL); Saudi scholarship; Immigrants; Multilingual and multicultural societies

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