TITLE: Multilingual Encounters in Europe's Institutional Spaces
EDITOR: Johann Wolfgang Unger
EDITOR: Michal Krzyzanowski
EDITOR: Ruth Wodak
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)
REVIEWER: Lelija Socanac, University of Zagreb
Review's Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry
This edited volume unites different theoretical and methodological approaches
to multilingualism in institutional contexts. The common denominator to a
variety of different approaches is the discursive turn in multilingualism,
which has occurred in two ways in recent research: first, scholars in
discourse studies have taken an interest in multilingualism and, second, some
scholars already working on multilingualism in other frameworks have
emphasized the discursive dimensions of their data. In many discussions of
multilingualism the concept of language ideologies has been redefined.
The focus of all contributions in this book is on practices rather than
varieties, and on linguistic repertoires instead of (or in addition to)
linguistic identities, approached in a variety of different ways, with some
contributions extending the methodological scope to include multimodal
analysis. Discursive aspects of multilingual encounters in institutions are
considered to be a vital entry point into understanding how institutions and
individuals regulate and are affected by multilingualism.
Institutions are seen as key sites for empirical research because they are the
spaces where policy decisions are made and implemented, and where the
individuals who are affected by these decisions interact with the individuals
charged with enforcing them. These interactions in present-day Europe are
increasingly likely to involve individuals with different first languages, so
that the encounters may take place in the first language of one or the other
of the interlocutors, in a language that is not the first language of either,
or in several languages.
The book is divided into three parts: 1. Private-sector Institutions, 2.
National and Supranational (Political) Institutions and 3. Educational
Part 1: Private-sector
In ''Language Management Measures and Their Impact in Companies Operating in a
Context of Linguistic Diversity“, Georges Lüdi presents the results of a study
into the linguistic practices of Swiss workplaces based on fieldwork carried
out in the international and national companies operating in multilingual
contexts. Adopting a mixed-methods approach, different types of data were
collected and analyzed, such as official documents, interviews, job
advertisements, websites, the linguistic landscape, tape recordings of
multilingual and monolingual interactions, etc. What is original in the
research is that researchers did not concentrate only on the corporate culture
of companies, language representations, or actual language use, but they tried
to relate the three dimensions to each other. The study is based on
conversation analysis, ethnography of communication, and discourse analysis
of the language philosophies and management measures of the observed
companies. The common assumption that everyone speaks English was disproved.
Participants adopt a wide range of strategies, and they do so in an extremely
variable, flexible and dynamic way, constantly re-assessing and readapting the
solutions chosen in the course of an activity. 'Monolingual' strategies
alternate with 'multilingual' ones. Like other contributors, Lüdi finds that
common-sense understandings of 'language' as monolithic and static are not
matched by real-world practices. Plurilingual individuals in multilingual
companies assemble the linguistic repertoires they require to match functional
needs and ideological inclinations.
Vassiliki Markaki, Sara Merlino, and Florence Oloff present results of their
research in the contribution entitled ''Language Choice and Participation
Management in International Work Meetings“ by adopting a conversation-analytic
and ethno-methodological framework which allows for examination of linguistic
and gestural practices. Choices about which language to use can be made,
negotiated, changed and challenged in various ways, and participants draw both
on local contingencies and institutional expectations in making those choices.
Language choices in international work meetings are never to be taken for
granted; even if they have been previously planned and announced, they remain
a local practical accomplishment.
While the first two contributions deal with spoken interaction, Alexandre
Duchȇne and Alfonse Del Percio, in their contribution entitled ''Economic
Capitalization of Linguistic Diversity: Swiss Multilingualism as a National
Profit?“ analyze written promotional material of an organization charged with
attracting inward investment in Switzerland. The chapter deals with (meta)
discourse on multilingualism which is used to construct Switzerland as an
ideal place for business due to its well-trained, highly qualified workers who
are markedly multilingual, as an example of economic capitalization of
Part 2 National and Supranational (Political) Institutions
In ''Multilingual Communication in Europe's Supranational Spaces:
Developments and Challenges in European Union Institutions“, Michal
Krzyżanowski examines the history of multilingualism in the EU and its
predecessors and points out that multilingualism in institutional contexts
should be perceived as flexible and open to negotiation. In the EU,
institutional multilingualism rests on 'a continuum of (more or less)
multilingual practices that are highly context-dependent and serve a range of
manifest and latent functions' (Wodak et al. 2012: 179). Following extensive
fieldwork in different EU institutions, the author analyzes the EU
multilingual policies and points to several challenges the EU will have to
face to improve its multilingual communication.
In ''The European Parliament: Multilingual Experiences in the Everyday Life of
MEP's“ Ruth Wodak elaborates on some aspects of recent interdisciplinary
research on multilingualism in EU institutions, focusing primarily on Members
of the European Parliament language ideologies and multilingual practices by
integrating discourse analytical and sociolinguistic theories and
methodologies. She focuses on power relations and negotiation of power
positionings when analyzing multilingual interactions in EU institutions. In
her analysis of language ideologies, she draws upon three interrelated
semiotic processes: iconization, fractal recursivity and erasure. Iconization
implies the naturalization of specific patterns of monolingual or multilingual
language use due to power relations and/or language ideologies. Fractal
recursivity implies the discursive construction of antinomies via referential
and predicational strategies. Erasure implies the process in which ideology
renders some persons or activities 'invisible' (Irvine and Gal 2000).
In ''Multilingualism in the European Commission: Combining an Observer and
Participant Perspective“, Bernhard Forchtner presents the results of a study
of meetings in the European Commission based on quantitative and qualitative
analyses, drawing on semi-structured interviews and combining an 'observer'
and 'participant’ perspective. In his analysis of code-switching, he shows
that although national and/or institutional language policies and ideologies
are relevant in the context of EU expansion, they recede in importance in
''closed” spaces such as the European Commission. Pragmatism dictates how and
when participants draw on their multilingual repertoires.
Part 3 Educational Institutions
In ''Discourses of Aspiration and Distinction in the Local School Economy“,
Adrian Blackledge, Angela Creese and Jaspreet Kaur Takhi conduct a linguistic
ethnographic study of Panjabi heritage students in complementary schools,
drawing on Bourdieu's concept of habitus and on Bakhtin's heteroglossia.
Habitus, a product of history, produces practices that shape aspirations for
the future in the present (Bourdieu 2000). A heteroglossic analysis enables us
to better understand the tensions and conflicts within and between signs, and
asks how multiple voices are represented in discourse. The study draws on
interviews, combined with audio-recordings and observational field notes in a
linguistic ethnographic approach which affords a detailed understanding of
processes of negotiation and transformation in family discourses about
education. The authors show the importance of aspiration in students' lives,
as they negotiate their home, mainstream school and complementary school
In ''The Genealogy of Educational Change: Educating to Capitalize Migrant
Students“, Luisa MartÍn Rojo critically examines how schools contribute to
social inequality by managing the language use and linguistic resources of the
descendants of migrants. Her approach is based on Bourdieu's three dimensions
of capital: economic, cultural and social, whose ownership is legitimized
through the mediation of symbolic capital, which gives legitimized forms a
taken-for-granted character, concealing the arbitrary way in which forms of
capital are distributed (Bourdieu 1986). The data analysis is
interactional-based. The analysis also includes other kinds of data:
institutional documentation of the school, educational programs, etc. The
ethnographic investigation ultimately led to changes in teaching methods and
procedures in a secondary school in Madrid.
In ''Negotiating Multilingualism in Flemish Higher Education“ Frank van
Splunder uses a multimethod approach to compare national/regional language
ideologies with those found within a higher-education institution. Flemish
monoglot ideology based on essentialism contrasts sharply with the
conceptualization of language as a social construct. The author draws on
language policy research, discourse analysis and language attitudes research
in his analysis of three levels of discourse: top-down discourse (government
and university policy), bottom-up discourse (semi-public discourse, including
an on-line debate), and academic practices. The analysis is based on text and
policy analysis, questionnaires and interviews. The author finds a mismatch
between the political and academic discourses on language use in Flanders:
while the former is based on a monolingual ideology, the latter is based on
multilingual practices and a market-driven demand for more English in an
international context of university education.
In the final chapter entitled ''Building a Multilingual University in
Institutional Policies and Everyday Practices“, Emilee Moore and Luci Nussbaum
discuss the role of English as a lingua franca in European higher education.
In their research, they adopt an ethnographic approach as well as results
accumulated through fieldwork (conversations with actors, participant
observation, reading websites, policy documents, press reports etc.) They
contrast official policies and specific practices at a Catalan university with
respect to the internationalization that has become an important part of the
identity formation of many universities. They examine how local and
international are articulated in service encounters and official ceremonies
and find that participants have to negotiate multiple language ideologies
during these encounters and mobilize plurilingual resources in accomplishing
often overlapping goals.
With globalization and increased mobility, the primacy of national languages
has been increasingly challenged, while multilingualism has come to the fore
as a research topic. In this book, multilingualism has been redefined,
opposing the traditional views based on a conception of languages as
idealized, timeless and decontextualized objects. Exemplifying the discursive
turn in the studies of multilingualism, this book successfully presents
different research methods that can be applied in the analysis of the
discursive dimension of multilingual encounters in institutional settings and
critically examines their relevance to policy, politics and society as a
The contributions represent a broad cross-section of theoretical approaches,
with an emphasis on critical and interdisciplinary approaches to discourse and
communicative interaction, and on language policy and planning. The special
value of this book is in its presentation of a wide variety of methods,
ranging from conversation analysis, ethnography of communication, language
attitudes research, critical discourse studies and critical approaches to
sociolinguistics. Another strength of this book is its interdisciplinary
orientation, bringing together linguists of various traditions, ethnographers,
sociologists, educational researchers and political scientists.
The book is well organized, but I have not found an explanation for the order
in which the contributions are presented. I would probably place the topics
differently and start with educational institutions as Part 1, continue with
private-sector institutions as Part 2 and end with the national and
supranational (political) institutions as Part 3. This, however, is only a
Overall, this is a highly interesting, well-researched and well-edited book.
It is very useful for scholars interested in multilingualism and discourse
studies, and it provides an excellent methodological tool-kit for future
research. In its practical implications, it is also highly relevant for policy
makers both on the national and EU levels.
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Lelija Socanac is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of
Zagreb. She is the head of the Center for Language and Law and the Foreign
Language Department at the same Faculty. Her research interests include
multilingualism, contact linguistics, (historical) sociolinguistics, critical
discourse analysis (discourse historical approach) and legal linguistics.