Family language policy as a form of coping or defence mechanism

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Family language policy (FLP), like language policies in general, includes aspects of practice, management and ideology. But FLP is often affected by and affects emotional issues and psychological dimensions that are seldom acknowledged as central in the analysis of such policies. Relying on a psychoanalytic theoretical framework, this article suggests a re-conceptualisation of FLP, analysing it in terms of its coping and defence functions. The article elaborates on ways that language policies in the immigrant family may reflect the way the family system perceives external reality and internal states, consciously or unconsciously, and utilise their language policy to affect its well-being. This re-conceptualisation may help to clarify the centrality of emotional aspects within FLPs, including their unconscious, defensive and adaptive roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • coping
  • defence immigrant
  • emotion
  • family language policy


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