Sociolinguistics Symposium 18: Multilingual Encounters in Institutions

Panel chair (with Ruth Wodak and Michał Krżyżanowski): Multilingual Encounters in Institutions

University of Southampton

Thematic Panel Abstract:


Ruth Wodak    Lancaster
Michał Krzyżanowski    Lancaster
Johann Unger   Vienna

Other contributors
Adrian Blackledge    Birmingham
Bernhard Forchtner    Lancaster
Georges Lüdi    Basel
Luisa Martin-Rojo    U Autónoma de Madrid
Frank van Splunder    Antwerpen

General overview abstract
The purpose of this panel is to explore the overall conference theme, ‘Negotiating transnational space & multilingual encounters’ in the context of institutions.

Multilingual encounters have become commonplace in many national institutions, and have of course been an essential part of most supranational institutions since their inception. The main aim of the panel will be therefore be to explore and discuss different ways of researching the discursive dimensions of these encounters, and to critically examine their relevance to policy, politics and society as a whole. This will include institutions at the local, regional, national and supranational level.

Multilingualism is often seen as an obstacle, not an opportunity, at least with respect to European public and private spheres. We therefore have invited a number of contributions that address the following questions:

1)    How is multilingualism conceptualised and talked about in different institutions?
2)    How do different institutions ‘deal with’ multilingualism, both
a.    internally, e.g. through institutional regulations, social and discursive practices, etc. and
b.    externally, e.g. through institutional self-presentation, policies, interactions with politics, the media, civil society, etc.
3)    What are the policy-making roles and challenges for the future for various institutions with respect to multilingualism?

The individual papers can be loosely grouped by type of institution concerned:

1)    private sector institutions: international and national companies (Lüdi)
2)    national and supranational (political) institutions: the European Commission (Krzyżanowski, Forchtner), the European Parliament (Wodak), and the Scottish Parliament (Unger)
3)    educational institutions: mainstream schools (Martin Rojo), ‘complementary’, i.e. part-time, community-run schools (Blackledge), and universities (van Splunder)

There are of course numerous theoretical and methodological approaches to this topic, and our invited participants represent a broad cross-section of these approaches, with a particular emphasis on critical approaches to discourse and to language policy and planning. We anticipate that the application of these different approaches to different types of institution will provide a fruitful opportunity to share knowledge in an interdisciplinary setting.



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