What is a Language Profile?
A language profile describes ones language history which is specific to a person. It can consist of things like what their first language is, what languages they can all speak, their families language and more. A persons language profile can be anything that has to due with language essentially.
My Language Profile
When talking about what my language profile consists of, it has a couple of different components. The first one being how English is my first language and the main component of my language profile. I have been speaking English ever since I was born. My first word was Dad and I continued to learn how to speak through my family, schooling, and everyday life. These factors are what has helped me to develop my English speaking tongue. It also had helped that with me living in Canada my whole life and English being its main language as I have been around it my whole life.
A Little Bit of French…
Another component of my language profile would be speaking a little bit of French. I took French classes all throughout high school and middle years so can understand the very basics and the core of the language. I can say things like hello, goodbye, how my or your day was, as well as colours and numbers. When I am reading it, I can make sense of some of the words and sentences. When it comes to writing in French, I know very little so it is something that I would have to work on if I wanted to become more fluent.
The French part of my language profile came from the Saskatchewan curriculum as well as living in Canada. We were having to take French classes from grade five to grade nine and had to option to continue taking it in high school. Living in Canada and having French as the second most common language used has also kept my little bit of French knowledge going. For example, I worked the election this year and as people came up to me I had to say Welcome and Bonjour. I have also had interactions with French speaking students when I work as an Educational Assistant. Knowing a little bit of French has helped me to communicate with those students.
And a Little Bit of Cree…
In my first year of University we had to take a language class so I had chosen to take Cree as I thought it would be the most beneficial which I would agree with my decision. I am not fluent at all and have little words or sentences memorized but I am still currently expanding and practicing that knowledge. My speaking and reading of the knowledge are my stronger suit. I caught on quickly of how to properly pronounce the letters and words. Like my French, it has been me working as an Educational Assistant that has kept this in my language profile. In Saskatoon, there are a lot of schools that are Cree speaking in which I worked at. This has also kept up my knowledge and practice of the language.
Where is my Language Profile Present?
When I am both in public and private, I speak English and use the English language the most. The reason being is because it is my mother tongue and the one I am most familiar with. It is also the one language that the people I am around the most speak. The only time I will use the French or Cree language is if someone were to approach me speaking one of them or if I were working in the schools. Although I would technically be speaking them in a public setting, I feel more confident speaking it more privately or in smaller groups as I still have very little knowledge or practice. When I am in a smaller group, I have more time to think about what is being said and using the proper pronunciations of the terms. My goal for French and Cree is to become more fluent and confident speaking it so I can speak them both more publicly.
My Families Language Profiles
My Mom’s Language Profile
On my mom’s side of the family, everyone’s language profile only includes English. It has been everyone’s first language and mother tongue. The events and factors of this is because everywhere we go and the people we live around speak English. My mom grew up in a small hamlet and tightknit community whos language history is the same as everyone else.
My Dad’s Language Profile
When it comes to my families language profile, it is only my dad’s side of the family that differs or is something else besides speaking English. My dad’s side comes from a Ukraine background and speaks a little bit of Ukrainian. He can read very little of it and can write some as well. His understanding and knowledge of the language came from his parents and grandparents and so on since they came from Ukraine decades ago. A factor that leads to this knowledge is us attending our Ukrainian Catholic church as our priest speaks and sings in both Ukrainian and English. When we get together with my grandpas side, it is when we use it the most.
My Dad’s Side of the Families Language Profile
My dad’s dad, or my grandfather, speaks a little more Ukrainian than my dad. Although he is not a fluent speaker, he can make sentences as well as can read and write a little bit of it. His knowledge has also come from his parents and having gone to Church every Sunday. My great-great grandparents, which I unfortunately never got to meet, both spoke more Ukrainian according to my dad and grandfather. Both of my greats came from a Ukrainian speaking background, but still spoke English as their first language. The only time they spoke Ukrainian was at church or with their parents. It was my great great-great grandparents who came from Ukraine and settled in Canada. When they came over to Canada, they had only spoken Ukrainian. This leads to how my family started to deal with language loss which you could start to tell from looking at my dad’s language profile which I will talk about a little bit later.
Where is my Families Language Profile Present?
For all of my dad’s side of the family, to this day, we only speak the Ukrainian language at church. Our Priest talks to us in Ukrainian and we reply by singings back to him in Ukrainian. I think our reason for only speaking at church is because that is what we are the most comfortable with and used to. Everyone that goes there knows about the same amount of the language, some a little more familiar with it and others, like myself, a little less. We also know all of the songs and everything for each service so it is easy. When we are outside of church we go back to our mother tongue because that is what has always happened. Since we only speak Ukrainian in church, I would say that we speak it in more of a private setting than a public one since it is with a small group with the same people most of the time.
Dealing with Language Loss
When it comes to language loss, I would say that my family and I have been impacted by it. I have been impacted by it because over the years my family had once been a Ukrainian speaking family but is now a English speaking family. I could have had Ukrainian as a second language if it had not been for my family losing it over the years. When my great great-great grandparents had came over from Ukraine, they knew little English but now we all speak English and know little Ukraine.
I would say that the contributions to having this loss from my language profile is because of a variety of different things. Moving to Canada, my greats would have had to learn English in order to adjust and get around the country. Learning the dominant language of their country is something everyone had and has to do. Another factor that had a big role in my famililes language loss was having my family move to the middle of the country to a small community where English was only spoken. If they would have moved to a larger city, they might have been able to connect with other Ukrainian speaking families and would have been able to continue on practicing their language.
Although we lost our mother tongue, it did not have that big of an impact on us today. I am not sure how it would have effected my greats exactly back then, but I am sure it would have been challenging. To me, the hardest part of losing that language was losing that part of my heritage but I am thankful I get to experience a little bit of it at our church services. The education system made it more challenging since back then only English was spoken and my greats went to schools that were small and near their forms so only spoke English. In Haque and Patricks article, they talk about how one of the negative effects of the racial ordering and the racialized policies and laws was based and related to the Indigenous peoples since their schooling education outcomes were so poor (Haque et Patrick, 2015). They also mentioned how the Canadian language policies are now constitutive of different institutional and structural racism (Haque et Patrick, 2015). When Haque and Patrick talk about structural racism, I would have to agree with them in the sense that if you live in Canada, English has to be your first language. In them saying that, I can relate that a little bit to what had happened in with my family that was not seen as big of an issue compared to all of the terrible things that had gone on with Indigenous peoples. My family was not offered the educational support that was needed when they came over and the language policies back then were not relevant either just like what happened with the Indigenous policies. They encouraged this settlers to come over, but controlled and limited them carrying on their heritage.
However, I know that nowadays there are Ukrainian subjects in the Saskatchewan curriculum which is great and makes me hopeful that maybe one day my children will be able to add onto their language profile with something that once could have been there.
Eve Haque & Donna Patrick (2015) Indigenous languages and the racial
hierarchisation of language policy in Canada, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural
Development, 36:1, 27-41, DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2014.892499