What is Home for a Third Culture Kid?

←2018. – Vol. 12

Alyeksyeyeva I.

Ph.D., Associate Professor

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Institute of Philology

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17721/StudLing2018.12.9-18



The article looks into the HOME concept as it is verbalized in discourse of Third Culture Kids (TCKs), a social group defined as people who have spent a considerable period of their developmental years in a culture different from that of their parents’. The topicality of the study rests on the fact that though the sociological research into the TCK phenomenon started in the 1950s, yet it is only in the 21st century that cognitive linguistics, cultural linguistics, socio- and psycholinguistics start to examine this social group. Since current globalization processes have turned workforce migration into a typical feature of modern societies, parents’ mobility exposes more and more children to two or more cultures. As long as children face cultural differences before their identity has been constructed, they have difficulty affiliating with any social group. The analysis of the terms used as synonyms for TCK has revealed that the components of this concept are ‘mobility’ (interpreted either as occasional relocation or as a lifestyle feature), ‘belonging’ (to the whole world rather than a country or region) and future orientation (next generations are expected to be made up largely by TCKs). Regular moves change TCKs’ perception of the most natural human concepts. Thus, the concept HOME becomes quite puzzling and controversial and may be interpreted in a number of ways: from a place where one is currently living to everywhere or nowhere. The HOME concept is vital for one’s self-identification: it gives one a sense of belonging and anchors one emotionally to a place and a community. However, TCKs, well-versed in saying goodbyes, tend to avoid bonding, i,e. strategies aimed at forming close relations, though they acquire a high competence in bridging, i.e. in strategies that deal with overcoming cultural dissimilarities. Understanding a partner’s place identity helps to make their behaviour and their worldview predictable, which turns the ‘Where are you from?’ question into a typical one at the first encounter. It is this very question that is inevitably perceived by TCKs as a challenge, since they are conscious of their vague or peculiar conceptualization of the HOME concept.

Key words: Third Culture Kid, concept HOME, lexeme, seme, identity, identity construction, communication


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Illustrative material:

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