Mapping Heritage Language Structure Through Sociolinguistic Cues: A Case Study of Swiss Tamil

Welcome to the webpage of the SNSF- and ICSSR-funded research project « Mapping Heritage Language Structure Through Sociolinguistic Cues: A Case Study of Swiss Tamil » (2023-2026). Switzerland, known for its multicultural society, hosts a significant migrant population, including approximately 60,000 Tamil individuals many of whom arrived during Sri Lanka’s civil war in the mid-1980s. Migration often leads to language contact and the evolution of new linguistic varieties. Heritage linguistics investigates how languages change over time in migrant communities. In our study, we delve into the realm of heritage linguistics, focusing on Swiss Tamil, the language of second-generation Tamil speakers in Switzerland. More precisely, we aim at exploring differences between Tamil varieties spoken in Switzerland and those spoken in South India and Northern Sri Lanka.

To better understand the structure of Tamil spoken in Switzerland, we carry out interviews (based on a sociolinguistic questionnaire) with the participants and we ask them to do a linguistic test.

Join Us: We invite Tamil individuals of first-generation and second-generation (between 18 to 65 age group) descent living in Switzerland to participate in our study. Your contribution will enrich our understanding of language dynamics in migrant communities and help shed light on the complexity of heritage languages. You will receive a compensation for your time investment in the project.

Contact Us: For inquiries or to participate in our study, please contact the post doctoral researcher: Researcher: Dr. Rajamathangi Shanmugasundaram (University of Lausanne, or Tel. +41 78 227 63 88)

Research Team: Our interdisciplinary team comprises experts in socio(historical) linguistics, migration studies, sociolinguistic methodology, generative linguistics and typology. Together, we bring diverse perspectives and methodologies to ensure a comprehensive investigation.

Principal Investigators: Prof. Anita Auer (University of Lausanne) and Dr. Gurujegan Murugesan (Indian Institute of Technology-Jodhpur).

Researchers: Dr. Rajamathangi Shanmugasundaram (University of Lausanne) and Dr. Hima Sasidharan (Indian Institute of Technology-Jodhpur)

Acknowledgments: We extend our gratitude to the participants for their invaluable contributions to this research endeavor. Additionally, we acknowledge the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the University of Lausanne from Switzerland and ICSSR and the Indian Institute of Technology-Jodhpur from India.