This thesis has investigated the relationship between sense of belonging, national identity and linguistic practices (choice of language and language use) and how they affect each other in two different languages and cultures. The research raised questions that are relevant for understanding the situation of Russian and Lithuanian immigrants, and their linguistic choices in modern Oslo. At the start of the thesis it was argued for the need to study the immigrants from Eastern European countries as, for example, Russians and Lithuanians. Even though the number of immigrant workers from Eastern Europe increased significantly, they are very little explored in Norway. While stereotypes about the immigrants exist, there is little knowledge about who the Eastern European immigrants are, what they think and how they perceive themselves.
To investigate this language-identity nexus, mixed methods research (triangulation) and a comparative design (cross cultural research) has been used. The research combined both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative data was obtained from self-completion questionnaire with open and closed questions, and qualitative data was picked up from semi-structured interviews and the collection and analysis of literature on the subject.In my study the Russian participants generally reported to have better linguistic skills than the Lithuanian participants in both their mother tongue, Norwegian and English. As shown in my thesis, the background for this may be differences in language policies in the participants' lands of origin, national consciousness, different social situation and the language itself. The fact that not all Lithuanian adults reported fluent mother tongue skills can be due to the strong purist language policy in their country of origin. In reality all of them are fluent in their national language.
The national language is highly valued by both nationalities. Through all the research it is possible to see a tight connection between the national language and the understanding of national identity. The adults in both of the target groups feel bound to their national community by ties of the national language, historical memory and the culture. The national language was reported to be among one of the most important factors for the identification of identity for both target group. Russians, however, seem to emphasize language the most, while Lithuanians put more emphasis on the culture a person prefers. The results of this study show that there is some difference in Lithuanian and Russian informants' national language preservation efforts as well. As demonstrated in the thesis this difference can be due to different social situation in these two groups of immigrants. Russians are very highly educated and came here to work as a specialists, students or spouses. Lithuanians have quite high education as well, but they came to Norway as labor immigrants and usually are overqualified for their present job in Norway and have to work a lot. Many of them thought that they would go back to Lithuania in the beginning, they complain about the lack of the time because of their job as well.
The home language is a symbol of national identity for both Lithuanians and Russians, and in most of the families the national language is dominant. However, in public the Lithuanians respondents in general use a broader spectrum of languages than the Russian respondents. The Lithuanians display their Lithuanian origin and identity by using their own language freely everywhere - also in the public sphere. Most of them report that they view culture as more important that language when it comes to integration. The Russians are very attached to their language and transmit it to their children, but they prefer not to exhibit their national language as openly in the public sphere as the Lithuanians do. A possible interpretation of this may be that Russians have a tendency towards situation-language bond, while Lithuanians have a tendency towards person-language bond. The self-identification of the informants is affected by both subjective and objective factors. Ethno-genealogical parameters (such as ethnic origin and place of birth) are crucial for all adults of the both target group, but the children reflect parent's attitudes, thus it can be their ethnic origin, place of birth and/or whether they grew up in Norway that matters. Anyway, most of the Russian informants reported that they identify with their Russian ethnicity, while many Lithuanians reported to identify either with their Lithuanian ethnicity, as Europeans or as world citizens.
How the Lithuanian and Russian adults understand stability and change of their identity depends on what parts of identity they emphasize. If one emphasizes numeric identity, she/he believes that identity is stable, if generic – person believes that it is changing. I didn't observe the significant differences among the target groups on that item.
The informants declare a dual identity by feeling a strong connection with their land of origin, national language and at the same time more or less accepting the Norwegian culture. Some of Lithuanians indicate triple identities - Lithuanian, Norwegian and Soviet. They express these shifting and negotiating identities through actual language, we-code/they-code, content and the context. Here it must to be mentioned that the code-switching as one of the language practices, is one of the main means by which to convey multiple identities also. Of interest is that the Russian informants prefer to use self-oriented talk and Lithuanians - other-oriented talk. Humor that appeared in the discourse is meaningful too and shows the boundaries in informants' understanding of national identity.
Both target groups take what they think is the best from the two cultures and reject what they think is bad. They combine and blend aspects of both Norwegian culture and the culture of origin. The informants carry out this selection according to their common national values, traditions, norms of behavior and personal attitudes. Besides that, they are strongly influenced by the Norwegian context. This leads to identity changes of the individual and influences the linguistic practices as well. Such findings demonstrate the veracity and relevance of the constructionist approach which was taken as a basis of the thesis.