Accepted Paper:

Added linguistic value: language resource management in the tourist sector of Marseille  


Adam Wilson (Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LPL UMR 7309)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores language use in the tourist sector of Marseille. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, it will show how the management of linguistic resources and spontaneous language negotiation in interaction combine to promote a small number of linguistic resources, thereby creating inequality.

Paper long abstract:

Tourism is perhaps the most wide-reaching form of human mobility. Across the world, people choose to be on the move, thereby benefitting from the processes of globalisation.

This paper aims to explore this privileged form of (chosen) mobility from a linguistic perspective. This study is based on an ethnographic fieldwork project undertaken in various tourist sites of a well-known French city seeking to garner itself a reputation as a global city: Marseille.

Firstly, the management of language and linguistic resources by the main actors of the tourist sector in response to this globalised mobility will be explored. A small number of specific languages are seen as especially valuable for the development of the tourism industry and are thus promoted in these spaces.

Secondly, it will be revealed how spontaneous language negotiation sequences between tourists and tourism workers also result in the selection of a very small, similar repertoire of linguistic resources. Therefore, despite complex pathways of mobility, language use in the tourist sector of Marseille is remarkably homogenous.

In conclusion, it will be shown how these processes reinforce language ideologies that empower certain global languages and their speakers, while disempowering a large range of other linguistic resources and their users. This will lead to a discussion on how language acts as a means for exclusion in a context that seems to promise the world to all.

Panel RM-LL06
Speakers on the move: displacement, surveillance and engagement [IUAES Commission of Linguistic Anthropology]