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The linguistic sense of placement: Habitus and the entextualization of translingual practices in Swedish academia

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Abstract

This paper adopts a Bourdieusian approach to discourse in contemporary Swedish academia. Habitus, entextualization, and translingual practice are employed as epistemological perspectives for investigating the place of Swedish in the text trajectories of two disciplines where English prevails in publishing. Data from meeting recordings, email correspondence, and interviews show that Swedish is the legitimate language throughout in the text production and that discipline-specific Swedish is practiced so long as it encompasses all participants' repertoires. In fact, the researchers point to an almost physical awkwardness linked to the unwarranted use of English among themselves. Following Bourdieu, it is argued that these sensibilities pertain to the linguistic sense of placement of socialized agents and that the unease of being out of place prevents them from lapsing into what is socially perceived as unacceptable discourse in their translingual practices.
The linguistic sense of placement: Habitus
and the entextualization of translingual
practices in Swedish academia
1
Linus Sal
o
Stockholm University, Sweden
This paper adopts a Bourdieusian approach to discourse in contemporary
Swedish academia. Habitus, entextualization, and translingual practice are
employed as epistemological perspectives for investigating the place of
Swedish in the text trajectories of two disciplines where English prevails in
publishing. Data from meeting recordings, email correspondence, and
interviews show that Swedish is the legitimate language throughout in the
text production and that discipline-specific Swedish is practiced so long as it
encompasses all participants’ repertoires. In fact, the researchers point to
an almost physical awkwardness linked to the unwarranted use of English
among themselves. Following Bourdieu, it is argued that these sensibilities
pertain to the linguistic sense of placement of socialized agents and that the
unease of being out of place prevents them from lapsing into what is
socially perceived as unacceptable discourse in their translingual practices.
Artikeln tar ett bourdieuskt grepp p
a diskurs i forskningspraktiker i Sverige.
Med begreppen habitus, entextualisering och translingval praktik
unders
oks svenskans plats i de praktiker som f
oreg
ar texter p
a engelska i
tv
a discipliner d
ar engelska dominerar i publicering. M
otesinspelningar och
mejlkorrespondens visar att svenska anv
ands mellan svensktalande
forskare, vilka ser det som fr
ammande att op
akallat tala engelska
sinsemellan. Denna tr
ogr
orliga regelbundenhet f
orst
as med ett socialt
kompetensbegrepp, d
ar tonvikten ligger vid individens inkorporering
av spr
akliga marknadsf
orh
allanden
over tid. “Den spr
akliga
placeringsk
anslan” (Bourdieu 1991) s
atter fingret p
a hur m
anniskor “vet
sin plats” rent spr
akligt, d
arf
or att de har en biografiskt inf
orlivad k
ansla f
or
v
ardet av sina spr
akliga resurser i relation till vad som v
arderas p
a olika
marknader. Denna praktiska kunskap, djupt ned
arvd i m
anniskors
praktiker och habitus, anv
ands reflexivt f
or att f
orutse vad som utg
or
legitimt spr
ak i spr
akliga utbyten. P
a grund av denna k
ansla, h
avdas det,
anv
ands svenska i forskningspraktiken. [Swedish]
KEYWORDS: English in Sweden, the linguistic sense of placement,
habitus, language choice, entextualization, translingual practice
Journal of Sociolinguistics 19/4, 2015: 511–534
©2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
INTRODUCTION
This article is concerned with the sociolinguistics of Swedish academia, in
particular with the linguistic habitus of researchers who engage in scientific
practices and processes, which, in turn, make up their everyday lives. Even by
the early 1990s, Kerr had noted that ‘the scholar is now becoming less the
citizen of one nation alone and more a citizen of the academic world; thus he or
she is living more and more in two worlds the international and the
parochial’ (1990: 18). To research settings in non-Anglophone nations across
the world, this sociopolitical trend the internationalization of academia has
generated implications and concerns of many kinds, of which some have been
manifested sociolinguistically. Nowadays, few commentators question the
predominant position and value of English in the contemporary global markets
of scientific goods (e.g. Hamel 2007; Lillis and Curry 2010) and, in scholarly
work, the impact of this development on national languages and academic life
is much debated (e.g. Ammon 2001; Gnutzmann 2008; Hultgren et al. 2014).
In Sweden, several quantitative mappings of the language use at universities
have shown that English now predominates in publishing across most
disciplines and scientific genres, particularly in technical fields and the
natural sciences. For example, Sal
o and Josephson (2014) show that
between 2000 and 2012, 99.3 percent and 98 percent of the scientific texts
in physics and computer science, respectively, were written in English. In
academic discourse and Swedish language policy and planning (LPP), this
sociolinguistic trend has been linked to a range of foreseeable negative effects
on the Swedish language and its speakers (e.g. Gunnarsson and
Ohman 1997;
M
al i mun 2002).
Thus, in some ways academia comprises one of the key markets of English
(Park and Wee 2012). Following Stroud (2004), Blommaert (2005), Park and
Wee (2012) and others, I hold that the framework of Pierre Bourdieu offers
some currency for contemporary sociolinguistics to understand complicated
global situations of this kind. In view of that, this investigation is conducted
using a Bourdieusian practice approach that is concerned mostly with
processes of construction, not with texts as finished objects (Hanks 2005: 68).
Empirically, the article investigates the place of Swedish as a scientific
language in the empirical realities of two disciplines where English prevails in
scientific publishing: computer science and physics. From this vantage point,
the article explores discourse in the scientific practices that unfold throughout
the processes of co-authoring English scientific texts in these disciplines, with a
view to recovering the contexts of which each text is the product, and which,
therefore, ‘lie discursively behind it’ (Silverstein and Urban 1996a: 16). Here,
certain features of Bourdieu’s conception of habitus are adopted as the
principal thinking-tool and epistemological perspective. As Hanks (2005:
6970) notes, habitus comprises the ways in which ‘speakers grasp their own
engagements in communicative practice,’ and in that respect, habitus
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accounts for the embodiment of language ideologies as studied in linguistic
anthropology (e.g. Kroskrity 2006). Accordingly, in that ideologies are
‘empirically accessible through metapragmatic statements speakers make
about the reasons that certain forms are used in certain ways’ (Shibamoto-
Smith and Chand 2013: 36), key aspects of ‘language choice’ are mapped out
by prying into the linguistic habitus of the Swedish researchers involved in the
text production, so as to bring into focus the ways in which their incorporated
market conditions orient and rationalize their communicative practices.
In choosing this approach, the article seeks to make a case for the
importance of grasping scientific texts written predominantly in English in
light of the scientific practices from which they result. As will be shown,
when texts are seen as merely one discursive outcome of a broad array of
academic processes and practices, a number of less visible ones are also
revealed. Here, Swedish is, in fact, used as a scientific language in both oral
and written discourse. These findings are interpreted through the prism of
what Bourdieu terms ‘the linguistic sense of placement,’
2
which postulates
that social agents are holders of a historically given ability to grasp the
constituents of legitimate language in a given market, as a key property of
their linguistic habitus. On that matter, this study shows that even in the
globalized fields of science and research, the practice of speaking Swedish
with other Swedish speakers is ‘to assess market conditions accurately’
(Thompson 1991: 20). As argued in this article, this linguistic sense of
placement fundamentally accounts for the guiding principle that upholds the
logic of ‘Swedish among Swedes’. This sociolinguistic trait implicates that the
presence of English in Swedish academia, however indisputably strong it
appears to be in publishing practices and in the bigger semiotic economy
surrounding these, has not disarrayed the logic that recognizes Swedish as
the natural, legitimate language of use among Swedish speakers, which in
turn indexes that these particular deep-rooted facets of communicative
dispositions are resilient to the sociolinguistic sway of globalizing processes.
As long as Swedish researchers continue to see Swedish as the accepted
language among Swedish speakers, Swedish will have its place as a scientific
language in Sweden.
ENGLISH IN SWEDISH ACADEMIA
In certain ways, English can currently be said to function as a transcultural
language of Sweden, placed alongside Swedish at the very top of the national
linguistic hierarchy (Hult 2012). Notwithstanding this fact, as Bolton and
Meierkord (2013) have argued in this journal, Swedish, rather than English, is
the preferred language in most everyday linguistic practices in Sweden. On the
whole, they argue, use of English is ‘restricted to a small number of domains,’
such as the business world or academia (2013: 109).
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Contemporary Swedish academia, then, stands out as a locus of Swedish
English translingual contact (Canagarajah 2013a: 27) and, as such, a market
where a global practice language transcends the long-upheld linguistic realms
of the nation-state (Sal
o 2014). Accordingly, in Swedish LPP, the setting of
academia has been widely understood as the language domain where
safeguarding Swedish is most pressing (e.g. H
oglin 2002; Sal
o and
Josephson 2014). An early survey of the use of English at Uppsala
University (Gunnarsson and
Ohman 1997) found that English in the hard
sciences and, increasingly, in other academic fields was used either extensively
or exclusively for a range of academic activities. This included language use at
seminars and lectures, in textbooks, as well as in written production at all
levels. Most notably, English was shown to dominate in scientific publishing.
This ostensible absence of Swedish as a scientific language was discussed in
relation to a range of conceivable problems confronting the Swedish language
as well as its speakers, including issues pivotal to knowledge transmission,
learning, research quality, and, ultimately, the sustained usability of Swedish
for professional purposes. Since then, these and similar concerns have
circulated in academic discourse and reappeared frequently in several
language policy texts (e.g. H
oglin 2002; M
al i mun 2002).
Given the fact that similar sociolinguistic and macrosocial concerns have
been raised in other geopolitical settings outside of the Anglophone world
(e.g. Ammon 2001; Gnutzmann 2008; Hultgren et al. 2014), these
questions seem to pertain to issues of global scale and scope. However, at
least in Sweden, remarkably little is known about the sociolinguistic
particularities and regularities of research practices, and the position of
English therein. In earlier work, it has been reported that Swedish academics
at times choose English in conference settings even in cases in which the
only participants are Swedish speakers (Ljung 1988: 22). However, this state
of affairs is at odds with observations made in a number of more recent
empirical studies, which show that Swedish speakers in various
internationalized contexts habitually use Swedish with one another in
fact, even across those settings that are officially ruled to be English speaking.
For example, S
oderlundh’s (2010) study of language use in English-
instructed university courses in Sweden shows that ‘Swedish is used in all
the contexts and situations arising on the courses that involve only Swedish
speakers’ (2010: 217). Likewise, Sal
o and Hanell (2014) showed that
advanced research meetings involving only Swedish-speaking computer
scientists were held in Swedish and, moreover, that email correspondence
between colleagues was conducted in Swedish. Whether widespread or not,
the understanding that Swedish speaking researchers regularly use English
among one another may also be brought into question simply by reviewing
the response of a Swedish researcher a physicist in Extract 1 when asked
about the place of Swedish in his daily scientific practices. This account
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suggests that Swedish is used across scientific practices other than merely
those of publishing.
Extract 1: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Prof. Phys: We use Swedish when we have coffee and discuss today’s articles,
if there are only Swedes sitting around the table. As soon as a
non-Swedish speaker joins in, of course we switch into English. [...]
When we have purely scientific discussions, it does not really matter
what language we use, it is sometimes a bit difficult with terms
in Swedish, but it is not a big problem.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND CONCEPTUAL TOOLS
Language choice and Bourdieu’s sociology
As a whole, then, studies about discourse in academia have indicated that local
conceptions of language use should not be underestimated and that language
choice in these globalized nation-state settings is an under-theorized
phenomenon. Here, useful perspectives may be found in linguistic
anthropology and the study of language ideologies, i.e. feelings and beliefs
about the interrelationships between languages, discourse, and the social
world (e.g. Schieffelin, Woolard and Kroskrity 1998; Kroskrity 2006). To speak
of language ideology in the area of linguistic choices is to recognize the social,
historical, and political embeddedness of language use; for instance, that use of
a particular language in a particular context pertains to a force of
sociohistorical values, beliefs, and interests. As such, it ties in nicely with the
sociology of Bourdieu, particularly his work on symbolic power that
naturalizes dominant ideologies (Kroskrity 2006: 503504). Bourdieu’s
work on language is often read as overemphasizing market principles, and
the space that endows people’s linguistic performances with authority (e.g.
Bourdieu 1977). However, it also encompasses a more sensitizing, practice-
driven quality that will be foregrounded here one that emphasizes
individuals’ reflexive incorporation of such authority, imbued in their
linguistic habitus through historical inculcation of language ideology (e.g.
Hanks 2005: 6972). As Bourdieu’s sociology stipulates, ‘[s]ocial reality exists,
so to speak, twice, in things and in minds, in fields and in habitus, outside
and inside of agents’ (as quoted in Wacquant 1989: 43). Accordingly, this
article seeks to account for regimenting practice as ‘the inscription of the social
[...] in bodies’ (Bourdieu 2000: 181).
Habitus +market =practice
A central theme in Bourdieu’s work on language is that the form and content of
discourse depend on the interrelationship between a linguistic habitus and the
market (Bourdieu 1991: 79). Such ‘relational thinking’ produces a view that
the privileging of one form of discourse over another in a given communicative
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event is itself a social practice, according to the formula habitus + market =
practice (Bourdieu 1984: 101). Habitus aims at capturing the idea of people’s
biographically inculcated schemes of action and dispositions acquired through
participation in routinized activities across the lifespan. To speak of a particular
linguistic habitus (e.g. Bourdieu 1993) is to point to dispositions pertaining
especially to language, and, as such, as covering a range of acquired sensibilities
concerning acceptability, appropriateness, correctness, and so forth.
As individuals act, habitus produces practices (Bourdieu 1989: 19). In
discourse it does so in its intersection with the linguistic market, that is, the
particular regimented and regimenting social spaces in which people place
their linguistic investments (e.g. Bourdieu 1993: 7889, 1991). A linguistic
market in Bourdieu’s characterization is ‘a system of relations of force which
determine the price of linguistic products and thus helps fashion linguistic
production’ (Bourdieu, as quoted in Wacquant 1989: 47). Practices, then,
arise when habitus intersects with the dynamics of markets, and practical
social action is born out of this relation (e.g. Wacquant 1989: 4244). Taken
together, this view treats the legitimate display of a given language as an
outcome of language ideological processes unfolding in practice relationally
enacted in the interplay of individual and context, embodied history and reified
history, habitus and the market. From this perspective arises a view of
language choice as the relational outcome of sociolinguistic repertoires enacted
in regimented spaces with their ways of exercising censorship on the discourse
of those who engage in them. Operating for the most part beneath the level of
consciousness, such a position privileges acquired dispositions to language use
and, therefore, deliberately downplays notions of obedience to a superordinate
regulating power. It posits that structures, norms, and external forces ‘out
there’ do not regulate the linguistic behavior of individuals per se; Bourdieu’s
take instead invokes an ‘inward’ epistemological stance, where regimentation
is thought of as censorship engraved in practices, people’s bodies, and habitus
(Broady 1984: 65).
The linguistic sense of placement
A crucial property of habitus proposes that people’s previous experiences of
playing a particular game endow them with a capacity to anticipate the
unfolding of the game (Bourdieu 2000: 211). Each agent, as a product of
history, retains a kind of bodily knowledge or sense of the relational, social
position they hold and can hold in social space (Bourdieu 1991, 2000; cf.
Stroud 2004: 198). This knowledge of one’s place serves as a practical capacity
in navigating through social life, and of behaving in order to keep, or keep
within, one’s place, that is, aligned with one’s ‘social rank’ (Bourdieu 2000:
184).
Applied to discourse, following Bourdieu (1977, 1991), this lens allows for
a view that the linguistic habitus embodies market conditions, as a result of
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agents’ biographic-specific encounters with linguistic markets and the value
of semiotic resources endorsed by these markets. What is more, the practical
experiences of individuals with the tacit or outspoken sanctions applied to
their performances in different markets endow them with a sense of the value
of their own linguistic assets, socially inscribed in habitus as a bodily,
practical sense of ‘knowing one’s place’ in relation to market assessments
(e.g. Bourdieu 1991, 2000). From here, Bourdieu (1991: 82) argues that
these experiences will result in individuals developing what he refers to as a
‘linguistic sense of placement’, a fine-tuned ability to sense and anticipate the
valorization of linguistic goods in different markets, which reflexively allows
agents to align their linguistic practices in relation to present and upcoming
exchanges.
Entextualization and translingual practice
To sum up, the plan here is to bring to light some of the communicative
practices that precede finalized academic texts in English and to unravel some
of the ways in which the regularities of linguistic exchanges observed
throughout the trajectories can be grasped and explained sociolinguistically.
As extensions of Bourdieu’s tool-kit, the article draws on two concepts from
linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics to foreground two focal facets of
linguistic process and practice: entextualization (e.g. Bauman and Briggs 1990;
Silverstein and Urban 1996b; Park and Bucholtz 2009) and translingual
practice (Canagarajah 2013a).
As developed in linguistic anthropology, entextualization can be employed to
direct analytical attention to discourse-transformational processes of making
aspects of contexts, or stretches of discourse, into texts (e.g. Bauman and
Briggs 1990: 73; Blommaert 2005; Andrus 2011). Such transformations can,
for example, be achieved across languages (e.g. SwedishEnglish) and semiotic
modes (e.g. oralwritten), but also across genres and discursive events (Sal
o
and Hanell 2014). Entextualization is here adopted as a broad epistemological
lens to ‘distinguish the product from the process’ (Vigouroux 2009: 616), i.e.
distinguish the finalized text-artifact from the social action of its making. This
distinction entails ascribing to a text the ontological status of being one
outcome of a development in which discourse changes form, and as such the
text ‘grows out of and refers to actual cultural practices’ (Silverstein and Urban
1996a: 2). Yet, this is so only in the broadest sense of entextualization, which
is here understood as a multi-scalar concept that encapsulates processes and
subprocesses nested within the scope of one another (cf. Vigouroux 2009). For
example, in the scientific text, quotes, diagrams, tables, and mathematical
expressions each comprise objects with histories of prior discourse constitutive
of scientific practice (cf. Massoud and Kuipers 2008).
From this view, each text included in the figures reported by Sal
o and
Josephson (2014) represents simply one outcome of the broader cultural
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processes of which it is the product (Silverstein and Urban 1996a: 1). There is
a parallel here to work conducted in the sociology of science (Latour 1987;
Pickering 1992), where the so-called practice turn in social theory has led the
way for a growing interest in studying not only research products, but also the
collective doings of researchers, as a means for understanding the knowledge
they produce (e.g. Latour and Woolgar 1986). However, while these studies
have attempted to pinpoint discourse in scholarly laboratory work practices,
they are commonly situated in seemingly monolingual settings, where the
working language matches up with that of the published text. Yet another
layer of complexity may be added to such transmuting phenomena by studying
entextualization in research settings where the language used in the finalizing
phase of the text does not necessarily correspond to that employed at earlier
stages in its production. For while the textual product aimed for a global
communicative market might be monolingual, the discursive practices that
feed into its production may contain multiple linguistic resources (Canagarajah
2013a: 8). For example, a study on the writing practices of Swedish engineers
showed that industrial research reports written in English were preceded by
drafts and note-taking in Swedish (H
allsten 2008: 131). Throughout the
history of scientific enterprise, such cases have been common (Kellman 2000),
and, to be sure, scenarios of this sort are likely to reflect the realities of many
non-Anglophone academic institutions across the contemporary globe (e.g.
Lillis and Curry 2010).
In analyzing research settings in non-Anglophone nations, the concept of
translingual practice (Canagarajah 2013a) offers a way of rendering this sort
of linguistic hybridity recognizable in the processes unmasked by exploring
entextualization. Translingual practice may be seen as an over-arching
concept with epistemological affinity to terms within related orientations to
language studies, such as translanguaging and heteroglossia (e.g. Blackledge
and Creese 2014). A focus on translingual practice allows analysts to bring
attention to the ways in which agents in globalized settings make use of the
resources that they have at their disposal. In this vein, adopting this concept
provides a way of moving beyond representations of either-or ideologies,
instead tapping into practices, processes, and semiotic phenomena unfolding
‘between and across languages’ (Canagarajah 2013b: 1). Yet, as discourse is
shuttled across contexts across semiotic modes and SwedishEnglish
language boundaries it is fashioned in practice by virtue of the habitus of
those who enact the transformation, and the specific contexts in which they
dwell. Here, Bourdieu’s perspective brings about a view of stretches of
discourse as forms of practice and, as such, products of the interplay of the
linguistic habitus and the linguistic market (Bourdieu 1993: 78), which
points to the relation between entextualization, translingual practice and
habitus.
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TEXT TRAJECTORIES
In what follows, the article presents data from the text trajectories of computer
science and physics two disciplines discussed in the introduction that
generally provide examples of scientific fields where English prevails in
publishing.
Notes on method
Here, the focus is on jointly co-authored texts of research groups, teams, and
collaborators, which are increasingly becoming a common praxis across
virtually all disciplines worldwide (Wuchty, Jones and Uzzi 2007).
3
Given that
academic writing is, thus, largely a collective practice, text-making practices of
the digital age make extensive use of various forms of technologies, such as
email and other communicative software used among most scholars
worldwide. In light of these advances, this study draws on a broad dataset
that includes interviews, email correspondence, drafts, and audio recordings
from research meetings. However, due to differences in my time of involvement
in their practices, different sorts of data were obtainable. For this reason,
different parts of the dataset will be foregrounded in the two disciplines. With
respect to the computer science group, I was present at the first research
meeting arranged after the group had decided to proceed with the project, as
well as at a series of subsequent meetings, thus allowing for participant-
observation of these practices. In contrast, at the time of my first meeting with
the physics researchers, the text already existed in published form. The writing
practices of the physicists, therefore, could only be investigated by
backtracking into the history of the written text-artifact, that is, by
attempting to recover samples of the semiotic processes involved in
achieving the incumbent text (Silverstein and Urban 1996a: 2). Further
details on this point will be given prior to each subsection.
Finally, a note on the translations and transcription conventions used in the
article is apt. All interview extracts have been translated into English from the
original Swedish in their entirety. However, for data obtained from emails and
research meetings, it is problematic to present the bivalent nature of
translingual practice monolingually. To signal what language was used de
facto, italics is used to indicate that snippets of discourse have been translated
by me from the original Swedish into English, and single underscoring is used
to indicate that the discourse was originally in English. For further
clarification, the original discourse is presented in addition to the English
translation in Extracts 5, 6 and 9.
Computer science discourse in the making of an abstract
In the field of computer science, I followed a collaboration of three participants
that resulted in the writing up of an abstract and the submission of it to an
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international conference. Throughout this work, the group met regularly in a
series of face-to-face research meetings that I attended. Data from this group
consequently included: (a) audio recordings from three research meetings (5.5
h); (b) field notes; and (c) a retrospective interview with one participant,
henceforth ‘Dr. Comp’.
The research meetings.The research meetings included project outlining,
planning for the forthcoming text, and technical discussions concerning
particular aspects of the group’s research questions. The language used at
these meetings was Swedish, and based on this general observation, Dr. Comp
was asked to reflect upon this practice (Extract 2).
Extract 2: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Interviewer: So, why do you think you speak Swedish at these meetings?
Dr. Comp: Well, that almost sounds like an absurd question, since even
though many of us have immigrant backgrounds, Swedish is our
natural common language. It would feel very strange to speak
English to your Swedish-speaking colleagues. Not only at this
stage, when we have combined project and research meetings
where there are parts of both carrying out actual work and
planning how things should be done later on. But also in later
stages, when you are in writing mode and actually work with the
English language text, it would be a huge step to take to talk about
it in English.
Here, Dr. Comp attests to the fact that Swedish serves as the default working
language, by voicing notions of Swedish as the ‘natural common language.’
Swedish, thus, is reported to be used between Swedish-speaking colleagues,
also in the ‘writing mode’ of scientific entextualization through which
discourse is ‘hardened’ (Massoud and Kuipers 2008), that is, transformed
into movable semiotic objects in English. In his account, Dr. Comp designates
Swedish as having unifying value-attributions in the market that are upheld
by the social relations of the group. In fact, he considers this circumstance to
be so self-evident that he views the interviewer’s question as ‘absurd.’
On the one hand, use of English in situations involving only Swedish-
speaking colleagues is felt to be ‘very strange’ according to Dr. Comp’s
sensibilities (Extract 2), and thus is clearly at odds with speakers’ ideas about
‘the natural’ forms of discourse. On the other hand, as Extract 3, below,
shows, English is the appropriate language to use in situations involving
non-Swedish-speaking participants. This logic allows for the understanding
that the participants like other socialized agents draw on particular
resources of their repertoires in particular situations. It also entails that the
presence of non-Swedish speakers fundamentally alters the very same market
conditions and the perceived authority of Swedish on the market. From these
general premises, a form of dual dynamics arises in the management of
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translingual practice, imposing microsociological shifts in linguistic practice
on the basis of participants’ repertoires (cf. Hanks 1996: 143).
Extract 3: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Dr. Comp: But it is easy to note that the threshold is low for switching into
English. When I was at [a Swedish university], it would typically be
enough to have one person in the room who does not speak Swedish
as a mother tongue or very well, for the natural language to be
English. In those contexts you can even observe how rapidly things
can change, how you develop small, local microhabitats in some
way. When someone goes to the bathroom, you might actually
switch into Swedish [...], continue speaking about the same thing
for a few minutes, and then switch back into English again when the
person who is the causal factor returns from the bathroom.
All in all, this suggests that Swedish computer scientists are holders of a fine-
tuned ability to weigh and screen their own resources, and to align them with
the situation and the presence of other socialized agents. Firmly based in the
routinized behavior of human agents, habitus here has merit in linking agents’
communicative dispositions to their ‘feel for the game’ of linguistic exchanges
in scientific practice, which helps explaining phenomena linked to why
socialized agents ‘shift into particular forms of performance when discussing
particular topics with particular people’ (Blommaert 2005: 234). Hence,
habitus also implies ‘a sense of the place of others’ (Bourdieu 1989: 19). As Dr.
Comp reports in Extract 3, ‘the threshold is low for switching into English,’ a
language that is socially upheld as the legitimate language in situations where
there is at least one non-Swedish speaker. Notably, though, Dr. Comp reports
that the unease linked to speaking English unnecessarily encourages
researchers to shift from English to Swedish even if it is only during a
small timeframe in which Swedish is socially enabled. This assessment,
therefore, encompasses competence, albeit and crucially in the sociological
‘full sense’ of this concept, one that encompasses the ability of knowing the
situations in which adequate speech is enabled (Bourdieu 1977: 647).
Subsequently, since it does not privilege rules of language or rules of use,
habitus here stands out as a concept fit for reconceptualizing competence
(Rampton 2013: 7577). Bourdieu’s approach invites us to subscribe to a view
in which Swedish speakers are understood not primarily as individuals sharing
a grammar, but as having ‘shared routine ways of acting, similar perspectives,
a sense of space, or common ways of evaluating speech’ (Hanks 1996: 13).
From this position, which is similar to that of Hymes (1972) and others,
competence comprises, on the one hand, linguistic knowledge, sociohistorically
merged within the agent, which may be drawn upon as linguistic or cultural
capital (cf. Bourdieu 1993: 80). On the other hand, it refutes the separation of
linguistic knowledge from linguistic meta-knowledge, instead posing
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competence as inseparable from ‘the practical mastery of situations in which
this usage of language is socially acceptable’ (Bourdieu 1991: 82, emphasis in
original). This conception unfolds as an incorporated sense of placement,
inculcated through the social agent’s enduring life experience of occupying a
particular social position in social space (Bourdieu 1989: 1719).
In Extract 4, Dr. Comp makes an additional point about the social
distribution or collectivization of this sense.
Extract 4: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Dr. Comp: It would be strange to speak English, just as it would be strange if
we spoke English here in this interview situation when we speak
about what was written in English, it would feel awfully strange,
not natural at all. And in some way, as an individual, you interpret
that from social frames of reference.
The ‘social frames of reference’ brought to light by Dr. Comp in this extract
relate to questions about the group of people who have practices in common in
their discursive histories and for whom a given set of social and linguistic
values are, therefore, shared. The distribution of such a value set equates to the
ability of socialized agents to recognize the differentiating practices produced
(Bourdieu 1989: 19). Dr. Comp exemplifies the ‘strangeness’ of speaking
English among Swedish-speaking colleagues by bringing the interviewer, who
is also a Swedish speaker, into the game of discourse production. Thus, in this
interview situation, Dr. Comp and the interviewer are operating in the same
linguistic market, which imposes similar forms of censorship onto linguistic
products (Slembrouck 2004: 93). Here, the discursive nexus of nationality
nativenessnaturalness is so evoked to rationalize that speaking English to the
Swedish-speaking sociolinguist-interviewer is as illegitimate as speaking in
English with a Swedish-speaking computer science colleague.
That this threshold for using English is low (cf. Extract 3) also seems to apply
to the performance of lexical registers. In meeting discourse, it is apparent that
the computerese Swedish being performed is largely permeated by technical
terminology clearly pointing to English as the global practice language of the
discipline, which is to say that computerese Swedish draws on a lexical register
with a distribution across language boundaries (Sal
o and Hanell 2014). In the
meeting recordings, English meshed vocabulary occurs frequently in unaltered
forms, such as ‘enterprise architect-modeller’ (enterprise architect models). Still,
in most instances, these terms have been transformed; for instance,
compounds such as ‘integritetsconstraints’ (integrity constraints) exemplify
that terms are often created by merging instances of the lexical register
(integritet) with an embedded device left unaltered, including the English
plural suffix -s (constraints).
In this vein, the discourse of the research meetings exhibits plenty of
instances of meshed English, i.e. recontextualized discourse, into the
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interaction, such as tokens of terminology and quotes adopted from the various
discursive surrounds enclosing their translingual practices (cf. Bauman and
Briggs 1990). Inserted into Swedish language practices, terms, in particular,
seem liable to undergo a transformative process as they are put into practice
through the schemes of Swedish speakers’ habitus. Consequently, due to
various phenomena such as morphosyntactic and phonological
harmonization, it is often hard to find analytically relevant criteria for
determining when an English term, so to speak, loses its Englishness as it is
reformed by the machinery of Swedish linguistic practice. For instance, when
used in verbal discourse, a compound term such as ‘integritetsconstraints’ is
pronounced with the Swedish compound accent (i.e. ˈ
ıntegrite:tsconˌstr
aints).
Other examples include cases where term tokens are inflected as Swedish
nouns, such as ‘swimlanen’ (the swimlane), and, in verbal performance,
pronounced in accordance to Swedish phonology.
As one of the key activities of the research meetings, the group made a
significant effort to make sense of a recently developed web-based modeling
framework, which was projected onto a screen in the meeting room during all
the meetings I attended. The interface of this software was in English, and as
the group spoke deictically about the projected model, this aspect of the field’s
semiotic surround was reflected in the interaction, as evident in Extract 5.
Extract 5: Audio recordings, research meeting (P =scientist participant)
Original discourse English translation
1 P1: Men nu undrar jag, bl
att
ar, i det
h
ar fallet, raderna
ar ... vad
ar
rubriken p
a raderna?
But now I’m wondering, blue in
this case, the lines are ... what is
the heading of the lines?
2
3
4 P2: Men
ar det inte capability? But isn’t that capability?
5 P1: Va provide situation status update
ar n
anting man g
or tycker jag det
l
ater som [...]
What, provide situation status
update, to me that sounds like
something you do [...]
6
7
8 P4: Men
aven det h
ar v
anstra check in
without control note (?) verkar
v
aldigt konkret. Perform diverse
saker, jaha, s
a det
ar function.
But also this on the left check in
without control note (?) sounds
very concrete. Perform a number
of things, right, so it is function.
9
10
11
Here, the participants navigate the English-language interface of the software,
simultaneously commenting on their activities. While Swedish is deemed to be
the unifying, legitimate working language of the group, this censorship does
not seem to imply an excommunication of tokens of English discourse in the
group’s interaction. In response to P1’s initial question, P2 says, ‘But isn’t that
capability’, thus enmeshing the term ‘capability’ in its situated, field-specific
meaning. Simultaneously studying the screen and speaking, P1 responds by
saying, ‘What,provide situation status update, to me that sounds like something
you do’.
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In this vein, Extract 5 presents discourse about discourse unfolding in and as
translingual practice. As the participants use Swedish to speak about the
English-language software interface, the discursive surrounds impact the
discourse. Due to the same phenomenon, ‘check-in without control note’,
perform’, and ‘function’ are also invoked in this interaction. In the interview,
Dr. Comp reports believing that, as a general trait in his young scientific
discipline, ‘there is a high acceptance [...] for throwing English terms around.’
It can thus be suggested that Swedish computer science, in some ways,
comprises language markets with a high acceptability level on the ‘form and
content of what can be and is said’ (Bourdieu 1977: 656). In turn, this feature
is mirrored in the linguistic habitus of the researchers who bring to this
scientific field dispositions favoring translingual communication (Canagarajah
2013b: 5), and who, at least potentially, are rendered fairly tolerant of meshed
English in various forms of interaction. However, being lax in linguistic
practice is far from being unrestrained. For example, Extract 6 shows a
participant (P1) at a meeting aiming to find a suitable Swedish equivalent term
but failing to do so.
Extract 6: Audio recordings, research meeting
Original discourse English translation
1 P1: Ja, m
ojligtvis s
as
ager det d
a att p
a
en post type, vad det nu heter, en
befattnings..eh ja om det nu
ar s
a
man ska tolka det.
Well, possibly it says that on a post
type, whatever that is called, a
befattnings..eh yeah if that is how
it should be interpreted.
2
3
4
Here, P1 attempts to find a Swedish term, the equivalent of ‘post type,’ but
moves on when no alternative comes to mind quickly enough. This
evaluation of self-produced discourse shows that using meshed terminology
is linked to a certain risk, rendered significant by the fact that the market
sets the price of linguistic products. Because of this fact, employing the
appropriate semiotic resources in a given situation is a question of P1’s self-
censorship of his linguistic assets. Viewed as habitus, this situation appears
to correspond to a remark made by Dr. Comp, namely that ‘it appears
somewhat uneducated not to master your professional terminology in
Swedish, because at least parts of the professional terminology are well
established in Swedish.’ This exemplifies how the sense of the value of one’s
own linguistic, as Bourdieu (1991: 82) notes, ‘governs the practical relation
to different markets.’ Ultimately, based on this principle, the argument here
is that the place of Swedish as a scientific language in computer science and
beyond is warranted by the researchers’ linguistic sense of placement,
which reflexively guides and constrains their present and forthcoming
linguistic practices.
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Physics discourse in the making of a journal article
In the field of physics, I investigated the trajectorial history of a scientific journal
article, co-authored by two researchers: an up-and-coming lecturer (henceforth
Dr. Phys) and a senior department member (henceforth Prof. Phys). Since the
text was already published by the time of my investigation, the two authors’
writing practices were approached by studying the history of the written text-
artifact, which was facilitated by traces of their writing practices that were
preserved in the form of email correspondence. This procedure was
complemented by interviews with the participants. Data drawn upon to
account for this entextualization process include: (a) an interview with each of
the two authors, and (b) email correspondence between them (109 emails).
Throughout the work leading up to the finalized text, Prof. Phys asserts that
‘all discussions were in Swedish’ with the exception of recently coined
terminology.
Extract 7: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Prof. Phys: We speak about it entirely in Swedish, everything is Swedish the
whole time. It could be that some concepts that we introduce, we
introduced one that we referred to as solar loss cone, and then we
used the English (term) straight off.
As in computer science, Swedish is thus reported to be the default language-in-
use among Swedish-speaking physicists. Yet again, the sort of linguistic
behavior revealed here entails thinking about discourse production as adapted
to a market, which in turn shapes people’s dispositions to linguistic performance
in particular social situations. As can be seen in Extract 7, this form of
censorship is not altered per se in events in which the subject of conversation
turns to scientific matters. Nonetheless, in physics, as in computer science, there
seems to be a noticeably low threshold for using English in their discursive
exchanges, provided that any participant does not speak or understand Swedish
sufficiently, as indicated in Extract 1, as well as below, in Extract 8.
Extract 8: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Dr. Phys: You discuss a problem at a meeting where someone is an English
speaker, then we discuss the whole project in English. And later,
we might speak to someone else who is a Swedish speaker, then we
can have the exact same conversation but in Swedish instead.
Again, then, the logic of the practice referred to in this extract stipulates that
Swedish researchers shuttle back and forth between Swedish and English in
their translingual practices on the basis of social criteria, manifested as
‘a practical, bodily sense of their present and potential position in social space’
(Stroud 2004: 198; also Bourdieu 2000: 184). On this point, this practice
bears resemblance to the discursive ‘microhabitats’ voiced by Dr. Comp in
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Extract 3. By the same token, it may be argued that the social deviancy linked
to English use in such settings is the historical outcome of the agents’ embodied
sense that English practices among Swedish speakers are only legitimate in
certain circumstances of external rationalization most commonly, the
presence of a third-party non-Swedish speaker.
The email correspondence.In the email correspondence, various parts of the
paper were discussed, such as particular claims and references, as well as
whole sections (Extract 9).
Extract 9: Email correspondence
Original discourse English translation
1 Hej!Hi!
2 Gould s
ager i 91-artikeln att ‘the In the 91-article Gould says that ‘the
3 band will grow progressively band will grow progressively
4 narrower, ~(u/v_earth)^(-5/2), narrower, ~(u/v_earth)^(-5/2),
5 with increasing speed’. with increasing speed’.
6 Jag anpassade d
arf
or I therefore fit the
7 vinkelskillnaden fr
an angular difference from the
8 juiterbanorna och Goulds h
al, Jupiter orbits and Gould’s hole,
9 men anpassningen blev inte but the fit did not come out
10 j
attebra na¨r jag l
at den bero p
a very well when I let it depend as
11 u^(-5/2). Om jag ist
allet tog u^(-5/2). Taken instead
12 den som u^-2, blev den ganska as u^-2, it came out fairly
13 bra. Jag bifogar en plot av well. I attach a plot of the
14 hastighetsf
ordelningarna velocity distributions
15 med de nya bundna f
ordelningarna. with the new bound distributions.
16 Jag f
ar titta p
a capture rate I will have a look at capture rate
17 imorgon fo¨ r dessa fo¨ rdelningar. tomorrow for these distributions.
Extract 9 exemplifies a particularly common feature of the correspondence,
namely that much of the interactional content between the two authors centers
around attached figures, themselves being embedded entextualizations pointing
back to prior ‘acts of scientific performance’ (Massoud and Kuipers 2008: 218).
Intended to be inserted into the article later, these figures were plotted in
specialized, external software, and the linguistic material accompanying the
figures meta-text, axis headings, etc. is in English. In the extract, Prof. Phys
describes the actions that were entextualized in one such figure, thereby
bringing English into the interaction. On the whole, this extract illustrates that it
is neither the case that English is used per se when scientific matters are discussed
nor that the body of specialized terms consists mostly of meshed English. This
indexes, first, the strong presence of English in the spaces embedding the two
authors, and second, that the discourse of the manuscript is offered on a market
imbued with values other than those regimenting face-to-face interaction
between Swedish speakers (cf. Bourdieu 1977: 651). However, as can be seen,
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tokens of meshed English terminology do appear in the correspondence, such as
‘capture rate’ (line 16), which supports the ‘solar loss cone’ example provided by
Prof. Phys in Extract 7. In the email correspondence, snippets of English
discourse are often constituted by ‘copypaste entextualizations,’ whereby
ready-made chunks of English discourse are detached from the context of the
English manuscripts and reinserted into the email correspondence. As seen in
Extract 9, Prof. Phys draws upon knowledge entextualized in English, attained
from reading an English-language article by a fellow researcher named Gould:
Gould says in the 91-article that the band will grow progressively narrower, ~(u/
v_earth)^(-5/2), with increasing speed”’ (lines 15). In so doing, Prof. Phys
inserts a piece of English discourse into the setting of Swedish correspondence,
thus rendering the quote as an object that can be spoken about metadiscursively.
As a technique of re-voicing ‘the discourse of others’ (Massoud and Kuipers
2008: 217), quoting constitutes a straightforward form of entextualization. The
formula ‘~(u/v_earth)^(-5/2)’ is part of the quoted, recontextualized discourse,
as it explains Gould’s claim in a mathematical expression, transpositioned, as it
were, beyond EnglishSwedish language boundaries. Likewise, an entextualized
plotted figure about ‘velocity distribution’ is enclosed in the email, embedded
below the text, where it serves as the object towards which metadiscourse is
projected. Inserted into the language practice of the emails and the habitus of the
two authors, the figure is spoken about in Swedish in the correspondence, thus
drawing on items of a lexical physics register in Swedish. For example, in Extract
9 Prof. Phys denotes the curve represented in the figure as
‘hastighetsf
ordelningarna’ (line 14), which is the Swedish physicsese
equivalent of ‘velocity distribution,’ as stated in the metatext of the figure.
The noun ‘plot,’ as used in Extract 9 (line 13), is an example of a
‘Swedishized word’ in the interview account of Dr. Phys in Extract 10. Here,
several layers of embodied market conditions are unpacked and realized as
metapragmatic statements.
Extract 10: Interview (translated from Swedish)
Interviewer: Could you even imagine how you would react if [the co-author]
rang you up and started speaking English?
Dr. Phys: No that would be very strange, I would reply in Swedish.
Interviewer: What do you think constitutes that feeling, like, what is it that
would make that feel strange?
Dr. Phys: We are used to speaking Swedish to each other. He is a Swede as
well, we speak Swedish to each other. And the paper is in English
and the email correspondence is kind of in between. The only time
we would have the conversation in English would be if there
would be some third person present who is English speaking,
otherwise we would never speak English. [...]
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Interviewer: Yes, but could it happen in a conversation that is more linked to
physics?
Dr. Phys: No, you see, if it is hard-core physics you would speak Swedish
and then use Swedishized words in English when you can’t come
up with anything better. But as long as it is an informal
conversation, you wouldn’t switch to English.
Interviewer: One could presume that it would be linguistically easier to do it in
English, so that you wouldn’t have all these problems with terms.
Dr. Phys: Yeah well that would be like us two here switching to English, it
would feel kind of ridiculous. (...) It would be the same thing if
you were a physicist and we spoke about physics, it would feel
ridiculous too.
Here, Dr. Phys once more attests to the fact that Swedish is used
in situations in which Swedish speakers are the only participants. This form
of social contract established between speakers is thus grounded in previous
social practice and nestled in social relations by virtue of which, following
Thompson (1991: 89, emphasis in the original), ‘a particular individual,
who is authorized to speak and recognized as such by others, is able to speak
in a way that others will regard as acceptable in the circumstances.’ In the
statements of Dr. Phys (Extract 10), these social relations are partly
grounded in historical practice, hence the statement that ‘We [i.e. the
co-authors] are used to speaking Swedish to each other.’ In part, the
relations tap into questions linking language to forms of identity
(Canagarajah 2013a: 16), ‘He is a Swede as well, we speak Swedish to
each other,’ thus invoking nationality and Swedish identity as the grand
rationale behind the discourse rationalization (cf. Stroud 2004: 208). By
virtue of this fact, it is noteworthy that Dr. Phys, like Dr. Comp, rationalizes
and explicates her dispositions to language use viz. Swedish among
Swedish speakers by appealing to the expected uptake of the analyst’s
habitus, in an attempt to find a shared notion as to how acceptability is
likely to be evaluated among Swedes. This shows that the interview
situation, as Slembrouck (2004: 105) has argued, is ‘a situation of contact
between habituses with effects on discursive behaviour at various levels.’
However, the presence of a third person ‘who is English speaking,’ as
Dr. Phys puts it, is a sufficient rationalization for temporally abandoning the
Swedish-among-Swedes principle, as their repertoires appear to socially alter
the price formation of the market. As exemplified in Extract 10, in
circumstances where all participants speak Swedish, Dr. Phys makes
reference to the ‘strangeness’ of using English as did Dr. Comp (Extract
2). Nevertheless, whereas Dr. Comp considered inquisitive questions about
this linguistic practice to be ‘absurd’ (Extract 2), Dr. Phys, when pushed
somewhat in Extract 10, voices emotions of ridicule and of an embodied
sense of awkwardness linked to the idea of speaking English to her
co-author. Somewhat troubled by the thought, she claims that she would
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respond in Swedish if he were to address her in English. Thus, this practical
sense is here manifested as unease of being out of place, which, holds
Bourdieu, may be expressed as ‘avoidance or unconscious adjustments such
as the correction of one’s accent [...] or, in situations of bilingualism, the
choice of the language appropriate to the situation’ (Bourdieu 2000: 184,
emphasis added).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUDING REMARKS
Those who dwell in Swedish academic life for very long are invariably
compelled to shuttle between different social and physical contexts, and to
align with the ideological complexes of ways of using language therein
(Canagarajah 2013a: 3233). This study has shown Swedish academia to be a
translingual contact zone and, as such, a hotbed where manifestations of the
national and the international become entangled with each other as new
knowledge is yielded from these complex contexts, packaged, for the most part,
in English. Yet, as illustrated in both trajectories, these processes work both
ways: while meshed English is often found in Swedish interactions, repertoires,
knowledge, registers, and terms indeed become Swedish, so to speak, as they
are filtered through the nationalizing machinery of social practice, by virtue of
the habitus of those who participate there.
The article has examined discourse in the empirical realities of computer
science and physics two disciplines of Swedish academia where English
prevails in publishing. It was shown that the key position of English in Swedish
academia is manifested not only in publishing but in most interactions between
non-Swedish-speaking collaborators and in the semiotic surroundings that
enclose their workplace. However, foregrounding entextualization phenomena
demonstrates that the finalized text, like any performance, ‘is tied to a number
of speech events that precede and succeed it’ (Bauman and Briggs 1990: 60),
and therefore carries ‘some of its history with it’ (1990: 75). That history, as
revealed, is translingual. As a central regularity, this study thus shows that
even though English serves as one language in scientific research, and despite
that new scientific vocabulary is often English, Swedish-speaking researchers
continue to find it awkward and inconceivable to use English when among
only Swedish speakers. Publishing and everyday linguistic exchanges, then,
are oriented to different markets that impose different censorship on oral and
written discourse, which is to say that texts, and the contexts of which they are
the products, need not be subject to regimentation by the same sets of
ideologies. On the contrary, as revealed, Swedish is used extensively in the
diverse environments in which English texts are produced. Furthermore, the
Swedish registers drawn on in the trajectories studied here are immensely
technical, albeit with ample meshed English terms both in oral and written
interaction.
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It is likely that the regularity revealed here, i.e. the use of local languages in
the research practice, can be found in many non-Anglophone corners of
academia in Europe and beyond. For example, a study by Madsen (2008)
points to similar dispositions to communication among Danish scientists.
Moreover, at any rate, to restrict scientific language to published work would
mean overlooking the numerous histories of academic performance and
practices of scientific labor preceding the resultant texts. These histories may
include the mundane practices of co-workers’ interaction in research meetings,
email correspondence, informal seminars, research applications, reports, and
so forth in other words, what Latour (1987) refers to as the very action of
science. The daily practices of the actors involved in the research enterprise,
posits Latour, encompass more than drafting, reading, and writing papers, and
thus ‘there is something behind the technical texts which is much more
important than anything they write’ (1987: 63). This stance, I suggest, is
worth considering when English language dominance in non-Anglophone
research settings spanning the globe is discussed.
As demonstrated, Bourdieu’s thinking-tools explicate how discourse
throughout such entextualization processes is imposed upon by different sets of
censorship as it is shuttled across different markets. Here, a Bourdieusian
conceptualization of habitus offers new insights into entextualization studies, as
it captures the idea of embodied language ideologies and therefore explicates
certain regularities in the regimentation of translingual practice. On these
premises, it seems unavoidable to ponder on alternative answers to the seemingly
simple question of why Swedish-speaking researchers use Swedish in their
myriad interactions with one another. As the dominant language of most people
born in Sweden, Swedish clearly holds a privileged position in their repertoire as
the language most Swedes know ‘best.’ However, without rejecting the relevance
of psycholinguistic factors such as cognitive cost, this article has foregrounded
the social side of these matters, more specifically the notion that ‘production is
always embedded in the field of reception’ (Bourdieu 1977: 647). From this
viewpoint, while it may be argued that Dr. Comp’s comment that ‘it would be a
huge step to take to talk about it in English’ (Extract 2) partly alludes to a
cognitive notion of competence, the perspective privileged rather foregrounds
that use of English in linguistic exchanges between Swedish speakers is largely
incompatible with people’s embodied sense of what constitutes legitimate
language in these situations. Here, thus, habitus mediates the accumulated
linguistic resources biographically layered in the agent’s repertoire.
On this matter, to conclude, the accounts and practices of the researchers
studied here point to a form of censorship that appears to operate according
to a dual logic, in turn linked to a practical competence of which
translingual Swedish researchers appear to possess an ample measure. On
the one hand, the threshold is low for switching into English in the event
that one or more participants in a researcher network has not mastered
Swedish. On the other, the researchers in this study seem to regard it as
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unthinkable to interact in English in situations in which all participants are
perceived as having sufficient skills in Swedish. As of yet, thus, the strong
presence of English in publishing practices does not seem to have altered
the incorporated language ideology that encourages Swedish speakers to
speak Swedish with each other. Imbibed through historical exposure to
market conditions, the linguistic habitus of the researchers studied here
instead holds Swedish to be the socially accepted language, as long as it
does not exclude non-Swedish speakers. Accounting for this logic, I have
argued the following: Swedish researchers, as socialized agents, are holders
of an ability to assess the value of symbolic semiotic goods in different
markets in relation to their own assets, which guides and constrains their
present and future linguistic practices. Resilient, albeit not fixed, this
linguistic sense of placement (Bourdieu 1991) is thus a property of their
linguistic habitus that endures amid the sway of globalizing processes. In
fact, reflecting upon their linguistic practices, the researchers describe an
almost physical awkwardness linked to the unwarranted use of English
among themselves. Such emotions related to conforming or not conforming
to the appropriate language choice can be understood by linking market
principles to individuals’ embodied, practical knowledge of language
behavior fitting the situation. Metapragmatically realized in terms of
‘ridiculousness’ or ‘strangeness,’ these sensibilities pertain to the unease of
being out of place (Bourdieu 2000: 184). As a form of self-censorship, this
sense subsequently prevents socialized researchers from lapsing into what is
socially perceived as unacceptable ways of using language in their
translingual exchanges. This linguistic sense of placement is here
interpreted as the rationale upholding the language ideological nexus
‘Swedish among Swedish speakers,’ which therefore, still and all, vouches
for the place of Swedish as a scientific language, as it unfolds in the midst
of entextualization processes.
NOTES
1.I am grateful to the anonymous researchers who provided insights and access to
their academic practices that made this study possible, and to the reviewers and
editors who helped me improve the article. For valuable comments and support
throughout the writing of the article, I thank Linnea Hanell, Suresh
Canagarajah, Donald Broady and Valelia Muni Toke, and the following
colleagues at the Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University:
Christopher Stroud, Kenneth Hyltenstam, David Karlander, Natalia Ganuza and
Caroline Kerfoot. Thanks also go to Per Ahlgren for doing the bibliometrical
analysis and to Lamont Antieau for the language editing.
2.In the French original, Bourdieu uses the expression sens du placement linguistique
(Bourdieu 1982: 84), which in the English reprint was translated into ‘sense of
place’ (Bourdieu 1991: 82). In this article, I prefer the translation ‘sense of
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placement’ in order to foreground the fact that this property of a person’s
linguistic habitus is not static but fluctuating and actively achieved in practice.
In so doing, I also aim at keeping the double sense of the word ‘placement’: on
the one hand, the football player’s positioning on the field; on the other hand,
the investor’s position on the stock market the aim of both the football player
and the investor being to anticipate the development of the game and to act
accordingly (cf. Bourdieu 2000: 211).
3.For example, a bibliometrical analysis of the publications from 2012 to 2013
shows that the median number of authors for a text in the disciplines selected for
this study is distributed as follows: for computer science, three, and for physics,
five. Data were retained from Web of Science on January 1, 2014. The median
was chosen as a measure to avoid the effects of extreme values of participating
authors, particularly in physics. The analysis is accredited to Per Ahlgren,
bibliometrician at Stockholm University Library.
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Address correspondence to:
Linus Sal
o
Centre for Research on Bilingualism
Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden
linus.salo@biling.su.se
534 SAL
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©2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
... The value of tracking such processes was underlined by Lillis and Curry (2010) in our use of 'text history ' (2010, p. 4) in a longitudinal study of 50 scholars from four national contexts (Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, and Portugal), with 'text history' being used as 'a key unit of data collection and analysis -[for] exploring the trajectories of texts towards publication' . The notions of history and trajectory have been taken up in a number of empirical studies, for example, Mur Dueňas's (2012) study of Spanish researchers in the field of finance and Salö's (2015) study of Swedish researchers in the fields of computer science and physics (see also articles by Shaw and Smirnova and Lillis, this issue). Such work helps make visible the highly consequential but usually occluded practices underpinning the production, evaluation, and uptake of English-medium academic texts, practices underpinning what Swales (1990, p. 125) calls the seemingly 'frigid surface of the [apparently monolingual] RA [research article] discourse' (our additions). ...
... This focus is driven by an imperative to understand the impact of the dominant position of English in global systems of evaluation on scholarly publication. However, in making visible the trajectories of English-medium texts toward publication, even where the multilingual context in which such writing takes place is signalled (e.g., , there is a danger that publication trajectories in languages other than English have been/are being obscured (but see Salö, 2015; Smirnova and Lillis, this issue). -Researchers' orientation has tended to be monolingual rather than multi/ translingual, masking the considerable use of languages and mixing of languages involved in the practices of writing for publication, whether producing monolingual texts in English, and/or in other languages. ...
... This paper draws on a longitudinal project, Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context, which since 2001 has explored the experiences of 50 multilingual scholars in four national contexts (Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal) working in the fields of psychology and education, focusing primarily on their Englishmedium writing. The methodology involves a longitudinal 'text-ethnographic' approach that traces the production of scholars' texts through multiple drafts, against a backdrop of rich ethnographic data, including observation field notes, multiple interviews conducted with scholars about the production of specific texts, as well as documentary data at institutional, national and international levels (for methodological details, see Lillis, 2008; for key findings from the study, see Curry & Lillis, 2004Lillis & Curry, 2006, 2015). ...
Article
The use of ‘text history’ and ‘text trajectory’ constitutes an epistemological break from historically static approaches to the study of academic writing for publication. However, there is a need to further develop dynamic approaches to professional academic text production in ways which are robustly grounded in scholars’ lived practices. The paper briefly reviews the use of ‘text history’ and ‘text trajectory’, signalling their value and some limitations, and offers a heuristic foregrounding the importance of chronotope ( Bakhtin, 1981 [1935] ; Blommaert, 2018 ), ‘text cluster’, and multi/translingual practice. Drawing on a range of data relating to 12 multilingual scholars in four national sites from the longitudinal study Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context – interviews, observations, curriculum vitae – the paper foregrounds three key chronotopic dimensions in the dynamics of textual academic knowledge making: micro time , specific moments of text production; meso time trajectories of texts; and macro time , text production practices over scholars’ life trajectories. The paper challenges the widely repeated and taken-for-granted mantra that English is currently the (only) language of science and academic knowledge production and, as such, seeks to contribute to strategies of ‘delinking’ ( Mignolo, 2007 ) in the field of academic writing studies.
... The value of tracking such processes was underlined by Lillis and Curry (2010) in our use of 'text history ' (2010, p. 4) in a longitudinal study of 50 scholars from four national contexts (Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, and Portugal), with 'text history' being used as 'a key unit of data collection and analysis -[for] exploring the trajectories of texts towards publication' . The notions of history and trajectory have been taken up in a number of empirical studies, for example, Mur Dueňas's (2012) study of Spanish researchers in the field of finance and Salö's (2015) study of Swedish researchers in the fields of computer science and physics (see also articles by Shaw and Smirnova and Lillis, this issue). Such work helps make visible the highly consequential but usually occluded practices underpinning the production, evaluation, and uptake of English-medium academic texts, practices underpinning what Swales (1990, p. 125) calls the seemingly 'frigid surface of the [apparently monolingual] RA [research article] discourse' (our additions). ...
... This focus is driven by an imperative to understand the impact of the dominant position of English in global systems of evaluation on scholarly publication. However, in making visible the trajectories of English-medium texts toward publication, even where the multilingual context in which such writing takes place is signalled (e.g., , there is a danger that publication trajectories in languages other than English have been/are being obscured (but see Salö, 2015; Smirnova and Lillis, this issue). -Researchers' orientation has tended to be monolingual rather than multi/ translingual, masking the considerable use of languages and mixing of languages involved in the practices of writing for publication, whether producing monolingual texts in English, and/or in other languages. ...
... This paper draws on a longitudinal project, Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context, which since 2001 has explored the experiences of 50 multilingual scholars in four national contexts (Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, Portugal) working in the fields of psychology and education, focusing primarily on their Englishmedium writing. The methodology involves a longitudinal 'text-ethnographic' approach that traces the production of scholars' texts through multiple drafts, against a backdrop of rich ethnographic data, including observation field notes, multiple interviews conducted with scholars about the production of specific texts, as well as documentary data at institutional, national and international levels (for methodological details, see Lillis, 2008; for key findings from the study, see Curry & Lillis, 2004Lillis & Curry, 2006, 2015). ...
Article
The use of ‘text history’ and ‘text trajectory’ constitutes an epistemological break from historically static approaches to the study of academic writing for publication, towards deeper understandings of textual academic knowledge making. However, there is a need to further develop dynamic approaches to professional academic text production in ways which are robustly grounded in scholars’ lived practices. The paper provides a brief a review of the use of ‘text history’ and ‘text trajectory’ signalling their value and some limitations to their use to date, and offers a heuristic foregrounding the importance of three core framing notions: multi/translingual practice; chronotope (Bakhtin 1981[1935]; Blommaert 2018) and ‘text cluster’. Drawing on a range of data relating to twelve multilingual scholars in four national sites from the longitudinal study Professional Academic Writing in a Global Context study –interviews, observations, curriculum vitae- the paper foregrounds three key chronotopic dimensions in the dynamics of textual academic knowledge making: multi/trans lingual textual knowledge making practices, multi/translingual knowledge making across text clusters and multilingual publication practices over time. The paper challenges the widely repeated and taken-for-granted mantra that English is currently the (only) language of science and academic knowledge production.
... As these criteria become increasingly globalized and incorporated in the form of scientific habitus, in bourdieusian terms (SALÖ, 2015), the pressure to publish, publish first, and publish in high-impact, strategic outlets, weigh equally over researchers worldwide (in spite of the unequal distribution of publication opportunities and resources). Currently, in the mainstream circuit, it is certain databases that define which are significant publications, this is, those of top scientific quality and greater symbolic capital. ...
... The two most prestigious databases (also the most cited, the ones that carry top scores in many institutional or individual performance assessments, and the most used in bibliometric and scientometric studies) are Web of Science (WoS), property of Clarivate Analytics, and SCOPUS, property of Elsevier. The overrepresentation of journals in English in such databases is well documented (AMMON, 2012;HAMEL, 2013;CURRY & LILLIS, 2014;VESSURI et al., 2014;ENGLANDER, 2014), and while the linguistic aspects and implications of these conditions of science production and circulation are well researched for Europe (MORENO FERNÁNDEZ et al., 2012;BOCANEGRA-VALLE, 2013;SALÖ, 2015) and some Asian countries (FLOWERDEW, 2007;HANAUER et al., 2019), Latin America is underrepresented in the available literature for the topic, as Curry and Lillis (2017) and Monteiro and Hirano (2020) have noted. ...
... This study reveals that, even within Latin American journals inserted in the mainstream publication/ consecration circuit (a priori, those of top-quality research and with a global reach, but see Beigel [2014b, p.745], and Gruber [2014, p.167]), English appears as a complement to Spanish and Portuguese, but not yet reaching the level of penetration reported in other linguistic and regional contexts (AMMON, 2012;SALÖ, 2015;SOLOVOVA et al., 2018). While marginal, as shown by the scarce percentage of Latin American journals in relation to the indexes' totals, languages other than English do have a presence in the international mainstream circuit. ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper presents a descriptive analysis of SCOPUS’ and Web of Science’s journal lists, in order to illustrate and critically assess the current presence of Latin American journals included in these mainstream databases and their working languages for publication. The latest lists of journals released by both databases as of March 2020 were analyzed in terms of journal language and country of publication. Results show Brazil clearly emerges as the regional leader, especially in WoS’ Science Citation Index Expanded and Emerging Sources Citation Index. However, this predominance of Brazilian journals does not entail a corresponding relevance of the Portuguese language. Spanish is the predominant language in mainstream Latin American journals, especially in the Social Sciences and Humanities, while journals identified as multilingual tend to associate either Spanish or Portuguese with English. The combination of Spanish and Portuguese is significantly smaller. This calls for a critical revision of the state of the Latin American scientific-editorial field as a linguistic market, as well as for further questioning the role of English as the lingua franca of academia.
... In the line of this argument, Bourdieu posits that individuals have what he calls a 'linguistic sense of placement'. Developing this concept further in a sociolinguistic context, Salö (2015) defined this as "a finetuned ability to sense and anticipate the valorization of linguistic goods in different markets, which reflexively allows agents to align their linguistic practices in relation to present and upcoming exchanges" (Salö 2015: 517). Following this line of thought, references to language learning and language competence in advertisements for domestic work can be seen as metalinguistic products that reflect the understanding that the author of each advertisement had of the linguistic market and the place that various speakers would be allotted therein. ...
... The Bourdieusian framework proposes that individuals make assessments about the linguistic market before placing their goodsthat is, before using their language, or presenting their ways of using language, in a certain way (Bourdieu 1991;Salö 2015). If this is correct, that logic should also explain why those who advertise domestic work choose to allude to the fact that many domestic workers in Sweden speak Swedish as a second language. ...
Article
Full-text available
Language inevitably plays a key part in the infrastructure of transnational domestic work. Many who work and have worked in the domestic sector in Sweden have Swedish as their second language. The object of this study is to investigate the ways in which this fact is reflected in the marketing of domestic work historically as well as currently. Drawing on two datasets – personal advertisements by job seekers published in a Swedish daily during the twentieth century, and corporate marketing by contemporary cleaning agencies – the study discusses how references not only to language competence, but also to prospective language learning are used in the marketing of domestic work. While the phenomenon of domestic work, especially when performed by migrants, has been a resilient space of upset in the Swedish society for the last hundred years, the article argues that references to language are used to navigate tensions.
... The department offers teaching, and produces research in both Swedish and English However, on account of there being very few speakers not (yet) proficient in Swedish, one's 'linguistic sense of placement' in this department (see Salö, 2015) is such that for all participants engaged with here, Swedish was said to be the most habitually used language in departmental interactions, whether in the kitchen, eating area, corridors, or online. Only a handful -4% of all research/teaching staff, might be described as potentially benefiting from being addressed in languages other than Swedish and up until 2012 there had not been any speaker not proficient in Swedish working at the department. ...
... In this email correspondence, Niki demonstrates the approach taken which accepted (and continued to accept) Luka's writing in English, while maintaining the right to respond in Swedish. For Niki, to do otherwise would have made the management of a heavy workload seemingly impossible, gone beyond a long held linguistic sense of placement (Salö, 2015), and perhaps beyond what felt linguistically possible. In reference to conducting administrative work in English, Niki reported that, 'I'm not so comfortable writing in English. ...
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on the ethico-political framework of hospitality, this paper investigates the communicative practices of three administrative support staff as they attempt to manage the twin challenges of working in adherence to state and institutional language policies while communicating ethically in an internationalising workplace. Academic administrative staff rarely feature in studies on internationalisation yet are crucial to understanding the complex day-to-day realities of contemporary university life. Empirically, this study reports on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, including observations, interviews, and email records. The data demonstrate language work being carried out on an ethical basis, before the consideration of any particular languages, beyond the participants’ political obligations, and in excess of institutional support. The current national and institutional responses to the multilingual realities of Swedish university life, I argue, are failing to do justice to and facilitate the ethically grounded, bottom-up language policy-making as practised by this study’s participants. This paper thus promises to open up debate on hospitality within language policy and planning for internationalising Higher Education, and, in its re-evaluation of the ethical and political dimensions of hospitality, it emphasises the framework’s critical potential within sociolinguistic research, more generally.
... There has been, notes Williams (2010, 52), a tendency for English to become 'the international vector of academic visibility', which is linked to the fact that scholars 'are integrated into an international network which operate [sic] increasingly through the medium of English.' As an object of study, this phenomenon is approached both from a historical perspective (e.g., Gordin 2015;Kaplan 2001;Mortensen & Haberland 2012) as well as in studies that, with varying foci, account for its unfolding in the publishing practices of present times (e.g., Canagarajah 2002;Lee & Lee 2013;Lillis & Curry 2010;Salö 2015). In scholarship on language in society, the rationale for addressing this topic is commonly critical, aiming to highlight the hegemonic role of English in contemporary research and higher education, and the consequences of this state of affairs for other languages and communities (e.g., Ammon 2001Ammon , 2012Carli & Ammon 2007;Durand 2006;Gnutzman 2008). ...
... Agents of both genders were asked to participate; yet, as it turned out, the informants who agreed to be interviewed from the fields reported on in this study were all male academics. Interviews with female researchers were carried out, but either as representatives of fields that were eventually not included in this study, or on topics reported on elsewhere (e.g., Salö 2015). In respect to the findings of this study, I do not know what this bias entails concerning the positionality of the informants in relation to the accounts they produce. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This study presents a sociolinguistics of academic publishing in historical as well as in contemporary times. From the perspective of Swedish academia, it unites a wide range of scholarly knowledge, including perspectives from the sociology of science, history of science and ideas, and research policy. The study focuses on publishing practices in the empirical realities of two disciplinary fields, history and psychology. Drawing on facts and figures from publishing practices as well as interviews, the study argues that English is currently making inroads into the field of history, in line with and aided by the field-external power of new regimes of research evaluation and performance-based funding impinging on the university field at large. In the field of history, unlike in psychology, the English language is thus currently a weapon since it provides access to international publishing markets where new forms of scientific authority can be obtained. This option seems to be most compel-ling for junior scholars seeking to enter the field. Following Bourdieu, publishing in English is here interpreted as pertaining to a social strategy, enacted in pursuit of investing differently, so as to subvert the order of the historical field.
... There has been, notes Williams (2010, 52), a tendency for English to become 'the international vector of academic visibility', which is linked to the fact that scholars 'are integrated into an international network which operate [sic] increasingly through the medium of English.' As an object of study, this phenomenon is approached both from a historical perspective (e.g., Gordin 2015;Kaplan 2001;Mortensen & Haberland 2012) as well as in studies that, with varying foci, account for its unfolding in the publishing practices of present times (e.g., Canagarajah 2002;Lee & Lee 2013;Lillis & Curry 2010;Salö 2015). In scholarship on language in society, the rationale for addressing this topic is commonly critical, aiming to highlight the hegemonic role of English in contemporary research and higher education, and the consequences of this state of affairs for other languages and communities (e.g., Ammon 2001Ammon , 2012Carli & Ammon 2007;Durand 2006;Gnutzman 2008). ...
... Agents of both genders were asked to participate; yet, as it turned out, the informants who agreed to be interviewed from the fields reported on in this study were all male academics. Interviews with female researchers were carried out, but either as representatives of fields that were eventually not included in this study, or on topics reported on elsewhere (e.g., Salö 2015). In respect to the findings of this study, I do not know what this bias entails concerning the positionality of the informants in relation to the accounts they produce. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study presents a sociolinguistics of academic publishing in historical as well as in contemporary times. From the perspective of Swedish academia, it unites a wide range of scholarly knowledge, including perspectives from the sociology of science, history of science and ideas, and research policy. The study focuses on publishing practices in the empirical realities of two disciplinary fields, history and psychology. Drawing on facts and figures from publishing practices as well as interviews, the study argues that English is currently making inroads into the field of history, in line with and aided by the field-external power of new regimes of research evaluation and performance-based funding impinging on the university field at large. In the field of history, unlike in psychology, the English language is thus currently a weapon since it provides access to international publishing markets where new forms of scientific authority can be obtained. This option seems to be most compelling for junior scholars seeking to enter the field. Following Bourdieu, publishing in English is here interpreted as pertaining to a social strategy, enacted in pursuit of investing differently, so as to subvert the order of the historical field.
... The dominant language establishes the norm against which the prices of the other modes of expression, and the values of the various competences, are defined (Bourdieu, 1977b). Accordingly, standardized or legitimized national language(s) lend authority to certain languages that lower the value or market share of other languages, resulting in individuals developing their "linguistic sense of placement" (Salö, 2015), and aligning their linguistic practices accordingly. Agents' development of this linguistic sense of placement, however, is considerably complex in multilingual settings. ...
Article
Full-text available
Pakistan, one of the eight countries comprising South Asia, has more than 212.2 million people, making it the world’s fifth most populous country after China, India, USA, and Indonesia. It has also the world’s second-largest Muslim population. Eberhard et al. (Ethnologue: languages of the world, SIL International, 2020) report 77 languages used by people in Pakistan, although the only two official languages are Urdu and English. After its Independence from the British colonial rule in 1947, it took much deliberation for the country to make a shift from its monolingual Urdu orientation to a multilingual language policy in education in 2009. This entailed a shift from the dominant Urdu language policy for the masses (and English exclusively reserved for elite institutions), to a gradual and promising change that responded to the increasing social demand for English and for including regional languages in the curriculum. Yet English and Urdu dominate the present policy and exclude regional non-dominant languages in education that themselves are dynamic and unstable, and restructured continually due to the de facto multilingual and plurilingual repertoire of the country. Using Bourdieu’s (Outline of a theory of practice Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1977a, The economics of linguistic exchanges. Soc Sci Inform 16:645–668, 1977b, The genesis of the concepts of habitus and field. Sociocriticism 2:11–24 1985, Language and symbolic power Polity Press, Cambridge, 1991) conceptualization of habitus, this study analyzes letters to the editor published between 2002–2009 and 2018–2020 in a leading English daily of Pakistan. The analysis unveils the linguistic dispositions that are discussed in the letters and their restructuring through market forces, demonstrating a continuity between the language policy discourse and public aspirations. The findings also indicate the ambivalences towards Urdu and English in relation to nationalistic ideologies, modernity and identity.
Book
At present, Web 2.0 technologies are making traditional research genres evolve and form complex genre assemblage with other genres online. This book takes the perspective of genre analysis to provide a timely examination of professional and public communication of science. It gives an updated overview on the increasing diversification of genres for communicating scientific research today by reviewing relevant theories that contribute an understanding of genre evolution and innovation in Web 2.0. The book also offers a much-needed critical enquiry into the dynamics of languages for academic and research communication and reflects on current language-related issues such as academic Englishes, ELF lects, translanguaging, polylanguaging and the multilingualisation of science. Additionally, it complements the critical reflections with data from small-scale specialised corpora and exploratory survey research. The book also includes pedagogical orientations for teaching/training researchers in the STEMM disciplines and proposes several avenues for future enquiry into research genres across languages.
Chapter
In recent years, a lot of research has been conducted to reveal EMI practices in European and Nordic countries, whereas very little is known about the impact of EMI programmes in post-Soviet countries, such as Armenia. Thus, the aim of this research is threefold: first, to serve as a contribution to the history of English-medium instruction and introduce the role of EMI in Armenia; secondly, to illustrate the students’ and teachers’ attitudes to EMI courses in the discipline Business and Economics; and thirdly, to delineate suggestions for improving EMI courses. This study adopts a qualitative content analysis of semi-structured email interviews conducted with the students and teachers so as to find out the benefits and challenges of EMI. Further suggestions will be given to improve the quality of EMI in teaching and learning business studies. The data obtained from this research will provide essential information for HEIs as a reflection on the implementation of EMI.
Book
This volume presents evidence about how we understand communication in changing times, and proposes that such understandings may contribute to the development of pedagogy for teaching and learning. It expands current debates on multilingualism, asking which signs are in use and in action, and what are their social, political, and historical implications. The volume’s starting-point is Bakhtin’s ‘heteroglossia’, a key concept in understanding the tensions, conflicts, and multiple voices within, among, and between those signs. The chapters provide illuminating accounts of language practices as they bring into play, both in practice and in pedagogy, voices which index students’ localities, social histories, circumstances, and identities. The book documents the performance of linguistic repertoires in an era of profound social change caused by the shifting nature of nation-states, increased movement of people across territories, and growing digital communication. "Our thinking on language and multilingualism is expanding rapidly. Up until recently we have tended to regard languages as bounded entities, and multilingualism has been understood as knowing more than one language. Working with the concept of heteroglossia, researchers are developing alternative perspectives that treat languages as sets of resources for expressing meaning that can be drawn on by speakers in communicatively productive ways in different contexts. These perspectives raise fundamental questions about the myriad of ways of knowing and using language(s). This collection brings together the contributions of many of the key researchers in the field. It will provide an authoritative reference point for contemporary interpretations of ‘heteroglossia’ and valuable accounts of how ‘translanguaging’ can be explored and exploited in the fields of education and cultural studies." Professor Constant Leung, King’s College London, UK
Article
A remarkable feature of the way in which Bourdieu's work has been adopted in studies of language in society is the emphasis on Bourdieu as a macro-sociologist providing insights into the larger processes of structuration in tightly integrated First-World societies. Yet, Bourdieu himself consistently emphasized the ethnographic epistemological foundations of his work, and especially in the last years of his life abundantly acknowledged influences from ethnography. This paper delves into Bourdieu's views on ethnography-as-epistemology, arguing that one of Bourdieu's central concepts, habitus, should be seen as inextricably linked to situated ethnographic inquiry. Taking habitus as an ethnographic concept, we may find better ways of investigating problems of voice - the conditions for speaking in society. This point is illustrated with examples from the Belgian asylum procedure, where habituated conversational practices by the interviewer simultaneously appear to contain proleptic moves that 'prepare' the story of the applicant for the next step in the asylum procedure. We see in this form of simultaneity the on-the-spot, layered deployment of macro-social (institutional) conventions through conversational, co-operative practices.