Heritage Language Domains and Attrition Index: A Case of Central Subanons

Jay D Telen


This descriptive-ethnographic study aimed to determine the Central Subanen heritage language lexical attrition vis-à-vis its domains of use among the 376 Subanons in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines. The Activation Threshold Hypothesis of Paradis (2007) cited by Schmid and Jarvis (2014) serves as the foundation of the present undertaking. Results of the study revealed that the Subanen language was used very frequently at home. Moreover, it disclosed that the Central Subanons differed significantly on the use of the Subanen language in some domains across age groupings, sex, and educational attainment. The nouns were safe; the adverbs, adjectives and verbs were potentially endangered linguistic components. Consequently, the lexical attrition of Central Subanen content words is less probable despite the significant relationship between the two variables under study. Furthermore, as the Central Subanons grow older, the language attrition index increases. Hence, the heritage language would survive as it has remained the language preference at home.

Keywords: heritage language, language domains, language attrition, Central Subanen, Central Subanon

Full Text:



Baker, C. (1996). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (2nd ed.). Great Britain: Bath Press.

Crystal, D. (2000). Language death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dweik, B., & Qawar, H. (2015). Language choice and language attitudes in a multilingual Arab Canadian community: Quebec–Canada: A sociolinguistic study. British Journal of English Linguistics, 3 (1), 1-12.

Ethnologue (Languages of the World), 16th ed., Lewis, Paul (Ed.). 2009. USA: SIL International.

Ethnologue (Languages of the World) 19th ed., Lewis, P. (Ed.). 2016. USA: SIL International.

Ghazali, K. (2005). Domains of language use and attitudes: Mah Meri. Linguistics and language education in the Philippines and beyond, 573-91.

Holmes, J. (2008). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (3rd ed.) English Language and

Linguistics Online.

Landweer, M. L. (1998). Indicators of ethnolinguistic vitality: case study of two languages–Labu and Vanimo. Ostler (ed.), 64-72.

Laurén, C., Myking, J., & Picht, H. (2007). Domain dynamics–reflections on language and terminology planning.

Mann, C. C., & Pirbhai-Illich, F. (2007). Language use, attitudes and identity: A survey of tertiary level students in Singapore. Current research on English and applied linguistics: A De La Salle University special issue, 191-214.

Melander, L. (2003). Language attitudes: Evaluational reactions to spoken language.

Coronel-Molina, S. M. (2009). Definitions and critical literature review of language attitude, language choice and language shift: Samples of language attitude surveys.

Gonzalez-Moncada, A. (1997). Language attrition and retention among non-native speaker EFL teachers.

McCormick, K.M. (1998). Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics. Jacob, L. M, (Ed.). Great

Britain. BPC Wheatons Ltd., Exeter, UK.

Patron, P. D., Macapangal, M. P., & Vensuelo, Z. V. (2013). Indigenous language loss in bilingual and multilingual nation-state settings. PRISM, 18 (1), 25-34.

Ramirez, D. B. (2007). Language attrition and language maintenance: The case of Colombian immigrants in New York State. State University of New York at Albany.

Schmid, M. S., & Jarvis, S. (2014). Lexical access and lexical diversity in first language attrition. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17 (4), 729-748.

Valentino, Y. B., Evita, S. M., Nugraheni, R., & Santika, S. P. N. (2013). Joshua Fishman’s domains of language use in relation to multicultural life in English language education study program Sanatadharma University. Proceedings of University of Sanatadharma.

Navarro-Villarroel, C. (2011). Young students' attitudes toward languages. Iowa State University.

Wei, J. (2014). Selectivity of second language attrition. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(8), 1603.