EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P061)
Linguistic agency and responsibility in (im-)mobility
Location Room 27
Date and Start Time 17 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Laura Siragusa (University of Helsinki) email
  • Jenanne Ferguson (University of Nevada-Reno) email

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Chair Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Siragusa

Short abstract

This panel tackles mobility from a linguistic-anthropological point of view and places language at the center of our investigation. We invite papers examining what happens to ways of speaking/writing when people remain in their homeland, move away, and/or settle somewhere else.

Long abstract

This panel introduces a broad linguistic-anthropological perspective to mobility. By using language as a point of departure, we seek to explore the social dynamics of what mobility means for people in terms of language retention, change or loss, as well as the kinds of narratives that are created and circulated by-and through-mobility. In investigating what it means for a language to be 'local,' Alastair Pennycook (2010, 136) proposes seeing language itself as a "geography of linguistic happenings." What does it mean for language to be(come) local, or global? What new meanings does language take on when its speakers move? How are new narratives constructed to make sense of these processes?

We hope to examine what happens to ways of speaking/writing when speakers of both indigenous and non-indigenous languages remain in their homeland, move away, and/or settle elsewhere; we also encourage panelists to reflect on how speech and writing events enable language users to distribute responsibility for social mobility and attribute it symbolic value. Some questions to consider are:

•How is social mobility manifested in ways of speaking/writing, and typological features of a language (multilingual phenomena)?

•How do communication technologies influence linguistic mobility, and affect speaker agency?

•What narratives are created regarding mobility and language? What do they tell us about how agency and responsibility are conceived?

•What narratives are constructed around mobility and how is agency/responsibility assigned to actors?

•To what extent do narratives of mobility affect the categorization of indigenous and non-indigenous people?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Dialect, Slang, or Something Else? Characterizations of Englishes, and What They Imply

Author: Jonathan Roper (University of Tartu) email
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Short abstract

The Englishes spoken in Newfoundland (Canada) and New Zealand are the product of mobility of similar groups of English-speaking people. And yet one of these Englishes locally characterized as a 'dialect', the other as 'slang'. What do such characterizations serve to emphasize and to background?

Long abstract

The adjective "new", as found in the name of the Canadian Province of 'Newfoundland and Labrador' and in the name of the nation-state 'New Zealand' arises from mobility: people moving from the 'old world' and settling in the 'new'. Various 'things' that moved as part of that journey: people, institutions, practices, and, not least of all, language. Today, the Englishes spoken in Newfoundland and New Zealand form two of the smaller 'inner circle' varieties of the language (the former with approximately half a million, the latter with approximately five million speakers).

Varied characterizations of these varieties of English are to be found in, say, the titles of academic books, the headings of websites, and in ordinary conversation. Especially noteworthy is the characterization of the vernacular Newfoundland variety of English as "dialect", and the New Zealand variety as "slang". Given that both varieties essentially springing from vernacular forms of English spoken in southern England in the nineteenth century, this difference in characterization is striking. What is being claimed and foregrounded by these classifications, and what might be being backgrounded?

Language diversity as an example of ever increasing cosmopolitan societies: the case Francophone African migrants in Lyon

Author: Dafne Accoroni (Université Lyon3) email
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Short abstract

This paper addresses the representations held by Francophone migrants about the French language and the Francophone space as they are circulated in Lyon, the site of my fieldwork, as a paradigmatic case of ever increasing cosmopolitan societies.

Long abstract

My analysis is a reflection on the relationship between language and migration, in that it understands the former as a communication tool, but also and most importantly, as cultural difference, a vision of the world and a negotiation of values. As international circulations have transformed today's migrant into a hybrid category defying earlier understandings of the phenomenon, sociological research is now faced with the quandary of paradigm shifts that have moved the debate from issues of integration to those of interaction, while relationships have become increasingly more cosmopolitan and complex. In this light, I intend to bring to the fore the linguistic dimension of the francophone migrant interlocutors in France, whose literacy, different cultural affiliations and metaphors are ontologically inherent to their migratory journey, as well as being negotiated across and beyond language. Ultimately, I analyse the medium by which all that constitutes the migrants' experiences is put into words, transformed, revived or hidden, in order to shed light on wider transformative processes encompassing minority groups and societies the world over.

Language Ideologies in Gao Xingjian's Literature: a Linguistic Anthropological Study of Chinese Diaspora Literature in Europe

Author: Lijing Peng (Trinity College Dublin) email
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Short abstract

This paper is one of the first few attempts of using linguistic anthropology methods to study the relationship between Chinese Diaspora literature and the European political and cultural roles for immigrants. It contributes to the recent hot debates on immigrant cultural diversity in Europe.

Long abstract

Language ideology denotes not only the speakers' feelings towards language(s), but also

more importantly those realizations and judgments of language(s) that are connected with a

different aspect of speaker/author's personal agency. Inspired by Samuel Beckett's attenuation of language, the French Nobel Prize laureate Gao Xingjian has conducted various language experiments in his literary creations in the past two decades. Gao's literary works, as Diaspora literature, have received extensive attention from European readers due to their Western modernist literary style, the author's anti-institution attitude, and the classical Chinese genres pursued in his literary creations. In this paper I examine how the classical Chinese genres and the influences of European modernism and French postmodernism collide towards an expression of an inner stress of immigrant identity. It employs linguistic anthropology to explore the chronotopes and language ideologies embedded in Gao Xingjian's literary language. I use Gao's fictions published after he emigrated to France as case studies. The literary language of Gao's two fictions are thick with various aesthetic and poetic traditions in Chinese history and geography. However, Gao also conflates the desire to violate his native language with the retrospection of Chinese language and culture from a stance of his new immigrant identity. With detailed analysis of the literary devices including the juxtaposition of time-space configurations, the interactions of diversified language elements, the micro-histories and political geographies embedded in his travel literatures, I look into how Gao's literary language responds to the complex Chinese language institutions and influences of European language ideologies.

Language movement and social transformation: the shifting value of te reo for non-Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand

Author: Michelle O'Toole (La Trobe University) email
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Short abstract

Non-indigenous, predominantly non-marginalised novice students of te reo Māori are contributing to the language's vitality. Simultaneously, it appears such engagement may be affording some of these interactants cultural capital and mobility in the social and work domains.

Long abstract

In my doctoral research I explore adult non-Māori experiences of learning te reo and tikanga (Māori language and cultural protocol) at an indigenous tertiary institution in Whakatāne, a small town in the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. The project investigates the notion that the value of te reo and tikanga may be changing for some non-Māori people.

There were various reasons non-indigenous students enrolled in these indigenous language classes. A number reported their motivations were work-related: some had Māori colleagues, others came into regular contact with Māori clientele, and others' employers promoted "biculturalism". Some students, both immigrants and Pākehā (New Zealanders of European descent), revealed that they were motivated to take the class by a desire to show respect for the first peoples of the country by learning their language and culture. Significantly, many learners' expectations were exceeded. For example, part-way through the course, I observed changes in participants' expressions of identity, prompted by learning how to recite a pepeha, a personal statement in which one introduces themselves in te reo. During interviews, participants shared their surprise at the affective, personal, and social impacts that performing the pepeha had had on them.

In this paper, I argue that non-indigenous novice students of te reo—often thought to be unlikely interactants with a vulnerable language—are contributing to its vitality, while such engagement simultaneously appears to be affording them cultural capital and mobility in the social and work domains.

Long-distance interaction and language survival in Eastern Indonesia

Author: Timo Kaartinen (University of Helsinki) email
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Short abstract

Through an exploration of conflicting strategies of linguistic survival among an Eastern Indonesian diaspora, this paper seeks to reveal how a former history of migration provides a framework for interpreting present-day mobility.

Long abstract

After the Dutch colonization of the Banda Islands in 1621, community of seafaring Muslims left Banda and resettled in several parts of the Eastern Indonesian archipelago, preserving their language and oral traditions in two villages in the remote Kei Islands. These villages maintained trade contacts to places outside Kei, and from the 1950s onwards their inhabitants have pursued circular labor migration and education in cities around Indonesia. Throughout this history of migration, the Bandanese have maintained a firm boundary between their own and other local languages, even as their aesthetics of powerful speech projects Bandanese and the regional or national lingua franca as parallel domains of meaning and authority. Drawing from fieldwork on village-based verbal arts and on urban efforts at language revitalization, I describe the continuing effect of this linguistic ideology on cultural strategies and revitalization practices among present-day Bandanese. In urban and national settings, code switching and 'glossing backward' from Indonesian risk erasing Bandanese as a distinct domain of meaning, but speakers persist in maintaining grammatical and phonetic differences between Bandanese and the national language of Indonesian. By insisting on Bandanese as a distinct linguistic form, the Bandanese continue to project a linguistic otherness to their immediate neighbors, including those relatives who fail to acquire fluency in the language. While this impairs the transmission of the language from parents to children within the same locality, interest and competence in Bandanese continues to be fueled by long-distance interactions that involve family visits, large-scale congregations, child-borrowing, and smartphone communication.

More than a tool - emotional aspects of language in transcultural contexts.

Author: Dorothea Breier (University of Helsinki) email
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Short abstract

Drawing on interview material with people of German-Finnish background, this presentation reflects on emotionality of language: at what points in life does language become particularly important? What does it mean (not) to be able to choose, especially regarding one's feeling of belonging?

Long abstract

There are many ways of approaching mobility and migration. However, issues related to language seem to play a prominent role in most studies of that field. This does not come as a surprise, considering the impact language has on our lives. Language is crucial for survival: through language, we transfer knowledge, we establish bonds to other people, we express our thoughts and wishes.

In the context of mobility and migration, language may serve as a way to maintain ties to the homeland, both in forms of social networks, of open options, and last, not least of emotional connectedness.

In Dorothea Breier's study on Germans and their descendants in contemporary Helsinki, Finland (2017), language was of central significance. In her presentation, Breier draws on interview material of her research to present different aspects regarding the impact of language on lives of German migrants, and specifically on lives of their descendants. The latter grew up with the influence of both German and Finnish cultural frameworks, though not all of them were raised bilingually. How did and does language influence their self-identification and feeling of belonging? At what points of their lives did language become particularly important, possibly even conflictual, and something to reflect upon consciously? How did they explain those processes and negotiations as part of their life-narratives?

Performing Locality: the Role of a Contested Language in Identity Construction for "New Scots"

Author: Máiréad Nic Craith (Heriot-Watt University) email
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Short abstract

This contribution focuses on a contested tongue in Scotland, exploring how the use of Scots can operate as a platform for identity construction, belonging and locality - not just for established population groups, but also for newcomers to Scotland.

Long abstract

Language is a key dimension of migration. it has the capacity to draw and re-draw boundaries as well as extending and transcending the boundaries of social identity beyond conventional concepts of class structure, ethnicity, gender and nationalism (Nic Craith 2005). This contribution focuses on a contested tongue in Scotland to explore how the use of Scots can operate as a platform for identity construction, belonging and locality - not just for established population groups but also for migrants, minorities and refugees. The theoretical framework is Kockel's thesis on performing identities which distinguishes between public and private identities in xenological and autological terms (Kockel 2007). Performing in the traditional Scots tongue is an autological act when used by a Scots-speaking individual to affirm one's self-identity. At the same time, it connects such individuals to a collective ideological heritage which has been strongly influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution. The focus in this paper is primarily on "new Scots". Using Scots as their medium in which to write and perform, these non-indigenous creatives explore not just Scotland's linguistic heritage, but also the socio-political legacy expressed in and through the Scots tongue. The paper examines the role a contested language can play in identity construction and a sense of belonging at transnational level. It investigates how heritage practices in a contested language can express uniqueness at a local level, while also promoting social cohesion within a European ideal of "unity in diversity".

The Role of the State in Teaching Icelandic to Foreigners: Icelanders' and Immigrant Language Learners' Opinions

Author: Pamela Innes (University of Wyoming) email
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Short abstract

The Icelandic state and citizens expect immigrants learn Icelandic. At issue for Icelanders and adult learners are the state's and learners' roles in reaching this goal. Interviews show there is tension between Iceland's position as a Scandinavian welfare state and its responsibility to learners.

Long abstract

The Icelandic state and its citizens expect immigrants to learn Icelandic. Those coming from outside the EU must learn Icelandic to receive residence visas and citizenship, and most take the steps necessary to receive those documents. Members of the general public expect all immigrants to develop conversational ability in Icelandic, no matter their national background, and many do. This push to have immigrants learn the national language appears to be directed only one way, with little national accommodation to the immigrant communities. As Joppke (2007), Borevi (2010), and Jensen (2014) have discussed, there is tremendous symbolic import in noting whether the direction of accommodation flows from immigrant community to receiving community, vice versa, or involves a reciprocal exchange. It would appear from the outside as though Iceland is concerned that immigrants adopt Icelandic ways without finding the immigrants' practices to be worthy of acknowledgment and interest. And yet, an issue that arose frequently in focus groups with Icelanders and individual interviews with immigrant learners is the role of the state and individual learners in accomplishing the stated goals. The comments demonstrate there is tension between Iceland's position as a Scandinavian welfare state, which should make it responsive to social need, and the homogenous requirements it has developed. But, both Icelanders and learners mitigate the state's role by positioning learners as the parties responsible for their linguistic development. These tensions and the rhetorical strategies that do little to address them will be investigated in this paper.

Unheard voices of a rebel city: re-appropriation of rights through the city walls

Author: Maria Rosaria Esposito (University of Cologne) email
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Short abstract

This paper investigates the Linguistic Landscape of the Centro Storico district in Naples, Italy, through the lens of graffiti as an Agency tool for dwellers claiming the right to the city in the context of mass tourism.

Long abstract

Mainstream narratives around tourist cities rarely offer a critical view of mass tourism, while alternative perspectives around this phenomenon do not find place in the public discourse. Short-term mobility in form of mass tourism affects the social environment of local communities, which do not own powerful tools to make their needs heard in this changing context.

The aim of this paper is to shed a light on linguistic processes taking place in a Neapolitan district dealing with a recent wave of mass tourism through the analysis of its Linguistic Landscape: how do city dwellers express their needs within a contested space? What kind of society are they proposing? Through which linguistic medium are their needs expressed and why?

The observation of the Linguistic Landscape of the district, focusing on graffiti, is an effective method in order to uncover discourses that would be otherwise overlooked. I will analyze pictures taken by myself in the Centro Storico district, an area characterized by forms of re-appropriation of physical and political spaces in time of crisis. I will investigate what the linguistic manifestations on the city walls can tell us about social processes taking place behind them. By doing this, I will focus on the role of graffiti as a form of Agency, in the attempt to re-shape the society starting by the city walls. I will also highlight how the subject of mass tourism is connected to other discourses around the right to the city.

Yucatec Maya Language on the Move: Considerations on Vitality of Indigenous Languages in an Age of Globalization

Author: Eriko Yamasaki (University of Bonn) email
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Short abstract

Presenting the multifaceted implications of globalization for language maintenance of Yucatec Maya, this paper intends to discuss a general framework for considering vitality of indigenous languages in the present age characterized by mass migration and electronic mediation.

Long abstract

Globalization manifested in increased mobility of speakers and intensive use of electronic media in a majority language is commonly considered to threaten the vitality of indigenous languages worldwide.

To a certain degree, this assumption also applies to the current language situation in Yucatan (Mexico), which is characterized by gradual shift from Yucatec Maya to Spanish. Besides insufficient representation of the vernacular in school education and other local public domains, interruption of language transmission should also be seen in the context of social changes which are increasingly articulating with global processes. In many Maya speaking communities in Yucatan, the habitus for language socialization of children has been radically transformed in recent decades, owing to a dramatic increase in indigenous labor migration in the course of the transnational tourism development in the Mexican Caribbean as well as spread of electronic media to the rural area.

The discourse of cultural imperialism would be one possibility to explain the gradual abandonment of Maya in an age of globalization. However, a close inspection reveals that the same processes also contribute to expansion of the language beyond the community boundaries. In Yucatan, this dimension of globalization can, for example, be seen in speakers' increased reference to "Maya" as self-identity, which is capable of transcending geopolitical and social divisions.

Presenting the multifaceted implications of globalization for language maintenance of Yucatec Maya, this paper intends to discuss a general framework for considering vitality of indigenous languages in the present age characterized by mass migration and electronic mediation.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.