Stockholm University, Sweden Gävle University College, Gävle, Sweden
|Construction of gender, ethnicity and generation in interaction||Linda Kahlin|
|Multilingual youth slang as a linguistic and ideological resource in negotiations of competing discourses in four different schools||Marie Werndin, Charlotte Haglund|
|Separate worlds? Home and school literacy among multi- and monolingual children in Sweden||Anders Björkvall, Charlotte Engblom|
|Sociolinguistic awareness and language attitudes among young people in multilingual Stockholm: perceptions of contemporary language variation||Ellen Bijvoet, Kari Fraurud|
|Understanding the use of word order variation among adolescents in multilingual urban settings in Sweden||Natalia Ganuza|
In Sweden a period of immigration in the modern era started in the 1940s and increased significantly in the 1960s. Within a relatively short period of time, the Swedish society has encountered ethnic and linguistic diversity different from that represented by the domestic minorities in the Northern part of the country. In this process of sociocultural change opportunities, challenges and difficulties face the society, its institutions and individual actors. A long standing position of the majority language Swedish as a symbol of national identity has been weakened. Yet, as a consequence of the change, the need for tradition and stability increases. This need is expressed in an insistence, for instance in education, on ”Swedishness” and an emphasis on “good” Swedish, i.e. claims on normality regarding identification and language use. We accordingly see how the Swedish language again, albeit in a different way, becomes an important part of the ideologies of nationalism.
The proposed panel focuses on how this contemporary manifestation in Sweden of a preferred language and identity is reflected but also contested in the understandings and language practices of young members of ethnic and linguistic minorities. The empirical and theoretical scope of the panel ranges from syntactic variation and perceptions of language varieties to literacy practices and poststructuralist understandings of identity, power and discourse. The papers draw on linguistic and ethnographic data generated among youth in multiethnic urban and suburban contexts in Sweden.
The different orientations in the studies provide insights into the connections between language and social organization at different levels of language use. Language is understood as an instrument, carrier and product of social relations (Austin 1962). In the panel we take up Duranti’s incitement that the challenge in contemporary research on language in society is to uncover “previously unseen or undocumented connections between the micro-level of face-to-face verbal interaction and the macro-level of institutional statuses, roles and identities” (1997:314). The panel represents an attempt at showing such connections and illustrating how structures of domination and discrimination re-establish themselves but also are contested on the micro-level of speech (Heller & Martin-Jones 2001).
One of the papers on the panel concerns questions on listeners’ perceptions of language variation and varieties in multilingual Stockholm. Starting from the notion that language varieties are abstractions and hence should be approached and analyzed as social constructions, this study demonstrates the usefulness of subjective data such as lay people’s perceptions and constructions of language variation and varieties.
Multilingual youths’ negotiations of identities and opportunities to position themselves and each other in different school contexts are also investigated. What is the function of multilingual youth slang in youths’ negotiations of social positions in relation to attempts, for instance, of teachers, student assistants and researchers at positioning them differently, i.e. in limited, less equal positions? The complexity of language use and social organization is indicated as well as the role of language in the reproduction of social exclusion. Questions on how different categorisations, especially gender, ethnicity and generation, are made relevant in talk-in-interaction (Antaki & Widdicombe 1998, Auer 2007) are also addressed in the panel. Membership categorisation analysis is used to examine how different identities are constituted intersectionally in conversations among multilingual adolescents.
As an example of linguistic variation one study concerns the variable use of inversed and non-inversed word order in the Swedish spoken by adolescents in multilingual settings. Questions concern how different linguistic, socio-pragmatic and demographic factors can be used to explain the syntactic variation studied. Another type of variation concerns the often substantial gap between children’s uses of texts in the home context and in school (Kress 2003, Kress & van Leeuwen 2001). For multilingual children this gap goes beyond that between textual genres, media and modalities (for example screen at home and paper and pencil at school), as it is also a choice of language. The study relates the children’s choices of literacy activities and language to the attitudes of care takers and teachers toward such activities and language choices.
The interactions, identities, literacy practices and language varieties examined in the panel facilitate our attempt at gaining further insight into how language display and contribute to social process and to a changing sociocultural order in contemporary Sweden. Insights are also provided into the more generally observed tension between established, traditional social and institutional order and the reformulations of it in the course of late modernity. A possible conclusion of the panel would be that this transformation takes place as a result, in part, of a changing linguistic order.
Antaki, Charles & Widdicombe, Sue (1998) (eds.), Identities in talk. London: Sage.
Auer, Peter (2007) (ed.), Style and social identities: alternative approaches to linguistic heterogeneity. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Austin, J. L. (1962), How to do things with words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Duranti, Alessandro (1997), Linguistic anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heller, Monica & Martin-Jones, Marilyn (2001) (eds.), Voices of authority: education and linguistic difference. London: Ablex.
Kress, Gunther (2003), Literacy in the new media age. London: Routledge.
Kress, Gunther & van Leeuwen, Theo (2001), Multimodal discourse: The modes and media of contemporary communication. London: Arnold.
Anders Björkvall, Stockholm University & Charlotte Engblom, Gävle University College, email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
Kari Fraurud & Ellen Bijvoet, Stockholm University,
email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
Natalia Ganuza, Stockholm University, email@example.com
Linda Kahlin, Stockholm University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie Werndin & Charlotte Haglund, Stockholm University,
email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Auer, Universität Freiburg, email@example.com
Janet Maybin, The Open University, J.Maybin@open.ac.uk