Multilingualism and language maintenance in the East Timorese diaspora in Portugal

Francesco Goglia, Susana Afonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The East Timorese linguistic repertoire is complex. It comprises Tetum and Portuguese (now both official languages in East Timor), Bahasa Indonesia and other local national languages. Moreover, different generations have different degrees of knowledge and use of these languages due to historical changes and resulting language policies in East Timor. In this article, we analyze multilingualism in the East Timorese community in Portugal using sociolinguistic questionnaires on language use, choice and attitudes. The result of our analysis shows that the East Timorese multilingual repertoire is re-shaped in the immigrant context in the following way: Tetum is the only East Timorese national language which is maintained and functions as an East Timorese identity marker. Informants have a positive attitude towards Portuguese, clearly identifying it as a High language. Furthermore, Bahasa Indonesia is still maintained to a certain degree in some domains.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Lusophone Studies
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


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