profile of a language group

profile of a language group

Task: research and write up a profile of a language group present in the Los Angeles area (which could be extended to include Orange County).  You can choose any group that has a significant presence in the LA area, apart from the English-speaking population.

Examples: the Korean, Armenian, Chinese, Russian, Persian, or South Asian/Indian communities living in the LA area.

Your profile should attempt to investigate and include the following kinds of information:

(a) Where do members of this group live?  Is there an area of LA (county) where a large proportion of this group live (e.g. Korea Town, Thai Town)?  Provide figures/statistics on the distribution of the group.

(b) Are there any special historical/political reasons why members of the group have settled in the US and the LA area?  For example, many Iranian people arrived in the US after the Iranian Revolution.  Similarly, many Hmong people relocated to the US after the Vietnam War, in part due to their co-operation with US forces in Vietnam.  As far as you know/can find out, when did the group first get established in the LA area – i.e. what is its history in LA?

(c) Private Sector

What kind of private sector uses does the language of the group get used in?  For example, is the language of the group used in:

(i) Private education.  Are there schools (perhaps weekend/Saturday schools) where young members of the group learn the language as a subject, or even learn topics through the language used as a medium (example: children from many Chinese families may get sent to Saturday schools to learn Chinese).  If such schools exist, give the name and address of one, and a brief description of how the language is used in the school.  Children of what ages attend the school?

(ii) Religious worship.  Is the language of the group used in religious services, in churches, temples, mosques etc?  If so, is the main service held in the language, and are the religious texts (Bible, Koran etc) commonly read in the language?

(iii) Stores/supermarkets.  Are the signs for stores and supermarkets written in the language of the group (and its script, if a non-Roman alphabet is used)?

(iv) Newspapers/magazines.  Are there special local newspapers written in the language of the group?  Example: outside Chinese and Korean supermarkets there are a range of free local newspapers written in Chinese/Korean.

(v) Legal services.  Are there legal firms which advertise their services in the language of the group – e.g. marriage, immigration, green card, naturalization services, etc.

(vi) Festivals.  Are there any festivities held in the language of the group?  Example: Vietnamese New Year.  What kinds of activities occur during these celebrations?

(vii) Special occupations.  Are members of the group represented in a special way in any occupation/businesses?  Example: in Asian parts of LA, many doughnut shops are run by Cambodians, and many manicurists/nail specialists are Vietnamese.

(viii) Radio/TV.  Are there any radio or TV stations available in the language of the group in the LA area?  Are these local stations or are they cable stations which are broadcast on a national network or internationally?  Example of a local station: AM 1300 is a Pasadena radio station which broadcasts in Mandarin Chinese.

(ix) Restaurants.  When you go to a restaurant serving food associated with the language group (e.g. Greek food), are the menus sometimes written in the language of the group as well as in English?  If the language makes use of a special script, are the menus sometimes written in this script?  Example: Thai script menus in some Thai Town restaurants.

(x) Driving School.  Can you take driving school in the language?

(d) Public Sector/government services.  What government services are provided in the language, if any?  Examples: booklets of driving laws, medical information, unemployment information, voting information, library service information.

Please try to provide visual documentation where possible – for example, use a digital camera to take shots of street/shop signs in the language, a sample page of a menu in the language from a local restaurant, a sample page from government services provided in the language etc.

Final question/issue.  To the extent that you aware and can find out, to what extent do you think the language is regularly used by people from the language group in LA?  For example, to what extent do people of Armenian, Korean or Iranian/Persian descent use these languages on a daily basis in LA?  Do young people from these heritage groups use the language regularly too, or do they switch mostly into English?  Try to give your impressions of language use by members of the group in one or two paragraphs.

Websites for population statistics
There are several websites that have really useful statistics on language groups resident in the LA area.  Many of these are collectively listed at: http://www.laalmanac.com/population/index.htm
For gathering information for your project, the following subsections (listing a range of specialized websites) will be particularly useful:
Ethnic Demographics
Language Demographics

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