Urbanization, Ethnic Diversity, and Language Shift in Indonesia

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See all articles by Thomas B. Pepinsky

Thomas B. Pepinsky

Cornell University - Department of Government

Maya Abtahian

University of Rochester - Department of Linguistics

Abigail Cohn

Department of Linguistics

Date Written: January 31, 2020

Abstract

Cross-nationally, urbanization is associated with the decline of minority languages and a shift towards national and official languages. But the mechanisms that link urbanization with language shift remain poorly understood. We use administrative data from Indonesia—a large, ethnically and linguistically diverse, rapidly urbanizing country—to examine how ethnic diversity shapes language shift in the context of urbanization. We find that in ethnically homogenous regions, urbanization has no relationship with language shift. By contrast, ethnic diversity is consistently associated with a greater probability of speaking Indonesian both among urban and rural Indonesians and in urban and rural areas. These findings have important implications for research on language shift and linguistic vitality in diverse, urbanizing societies.

Keywords: language shift, urbanization, sociolinguistics, ethnicity, diversity, Indonesia

Suggested Citation

Pepinsky, Thomas B. and Abtahian, Maya and Cohn, Abigail, Urbanization, Ethnic Diversity, and Language Shift in Indonesia (January 31, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Thomas B. Pepinsky (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Government ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Maya Abtahian

University of Rochester - Department of Linguistics ( email )

RC Box 270096
Rochester, NY 14627-0096
United States

Abigail Cohn

Department of Linguistics ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

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