The maintenance of Portuguese as a heritage language in Winnipeg

Thumbnail Image
Mota, Carlos A.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The Maintenance of Portuguese as a Heritage Language in Winnipeg is a study of the maintenance of the Portuguese language among members of the first and second generations in the Portuguese community in Winnipeg. In order to understand the context of this language maintenance, important details of the Portuguese immigration to Canada and of the Portuguese community in Winnipeg are presented. The study examines the extent to which the Portuguese language has been used by first and second generation members and determines the differences in language proficiency present in both generations. The respondents, members of 66 Luso-Canadian households in Winnipeg, were randomly selected from the Winnipeg Telephone Directory. The findings indicate that the Portuguese language is still widely used among members of the Portuguese community in Winnipeg, especially by members of the first generation, and mainly in the domains of family, friendship, church, and several businesses and services. Although approximately one third of second generation members use Portuguese frequently, especially with their parents and grandparents, English is their language of preference in all other domains. In terms of language proficiency, both generations have high levels of comprehension skills. However, there exists a wide gap between first and second generations in speaking, reading, and writing skills. In spite of the dat indicating a gradual loss in language use in all its strands (comprehension, oral, reading, and writing), there has been a conscious and continuous effort by the Portuguese institutions to develop cultural activities, as well as language programs, in order to promote and maintain the Portuguese linguistic and cultural values in Winnipeg.