Ecological orientations to sociolinguistic scale: Insights from study abroad experiences

Khawla Badwan, James Simpson
2019 Applied Linguistics Review  
The sociolinguistics of globalisation, as an emerging paradigm, focuses on the impact of mobility on the linguistic capital of mobile individuals. To understand this, Blommaert advocates a scalar approach to language arguing that some people's repertoires "will allow mobility while others will not" (2010. The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 23) and proposing high scale, low scale orderings. In this paper we introduce an ecological orientation to
more » ... entation to sociolinguistic scale that challenges the fixity of a high/low scale distinction by conceptually drawing on the notions of flat ontology (Marston et al. 2005. Human geography without scale. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30(4). 416–432) and exchange value (Heller. 2010. The commodification of language. Annual Review of Anthropology 39. 101–114). We do this in relation to Study Abroad (SA) contexts, which offer spaces for investigating how mobility influences the exchange value of individuals' linguistic repertoires. The study speaks to a broader project in social research which emphasises the agency, subjectivity and criticality of the individual and stresses the complex and rhizomatic nature of social interaction. Drawing on moment analysis (Li. 2011. Moment Analysis and translanguaging space: Discursive construction of identities by multilingual Chinese youth in Britain. Journal of Pragmatics 43. 1222–1235), we examine the experiences of two study abroad students in the UK. These include tellings of critical and reflective moments through which we interpret their experience of how the interplay of language, place and ecology of interaction results in constant, dynamic changes in the exchange value of their English repertoires. Our contribution is to show how an ecological orientation and a flat, rather than stratified, ontology enables insights into language use and globalisation in a way that empowers multilingual, mobile individuals.
doi:10.1515/applirev-2018-0113 fatcat:vavmvqu3sbdcxgmn42qxnb57me