Wednesday Seminar: Multilingualism triangulated in practice and analysis: a journey from communicative events through languages to “ways of speaking”

Dr Samantha Goodchild (Postdoctoral Fellow, MultiLing) will give a talk on analysing multilingual linguistic practices whilst incorporating various perspectives.

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Multilingualism and multilingual communication are inherently complex practices. One challenge of research on multilingualism is how to adequately describe multilingual linguistic practices. Incorporating various perspectives can help the researcher question assumptions about established scales of comparison (Gal 2016). After conducting ethnographic based fieldwork in Essyl, a small village in the Casamance region of southern Senegal, West Africa, I concluded that in order to attempt a holistic understanding of multilingualism there, rather than starting with a priori defined codes, or named languages, it is necessary to have communicative events and the people involved at the forefront for analysis. Using the “triangulation method” (Goodchild 2018; Weidl 2018; Weidl & Goodchild In preparation) is one way to achieve various perspectives on the data and analysis.


Therefore, in this seminar, I will start by presenting some examples taken from extracts of observed naturalistic language data. I will demonstrate how to use the triangulation method on the data, starting with the participant’s perspective, and an observers’ point of view, then finishing with the researcher’s take on the data. By starting with analysis on the micro, i.e., personal scale and working towards the macro, or societal, context, I will explain how integrating numerous intersecting scale-levels is just as necessary as including differing points of view. This is because personal experiences are highly likely to be influenced by, for example, language policy and legacies of research. In conclusion, I put forward that we should start analysis with the situated-ness of people in interactions. Whilst retaining the concept of languages as an important construct for social, identity and space -making purposes, I argue, along with other scholars working on multilingual linguistic practices in the Senegambian context including the Casamance (e.g. Juffermans 2015; Ndecky 2011; Nunez 2015), that the (trans)languaging approach (García & Li Wei 2014; Jørgensen et al. 2011) is to be preferred for analysing flexible “ways of speaking” in Essyl, Senegal.




Gal, Susan. 2016. Scale-making: comparison and perspective as ideological projects. In E. Summerson Carr & Michael Lempert (eds.), Scale: Discourse and dimensions of social life, 91–111. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

García, Ofelia & Li Wei. 2014. Translanguaging: language, bilingualism and education (Palgrave Pivot). Basingstoke, Hampshire ;New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Goodchild, Samantha. 2018. Sociolinguistic spaces and multilingualism: practices and perceptions in Essyl, Senegal. London: SOAS, University of London PhD.

Jørgensen, J. Normann, Martha Sif Karrebæk, Lian Malai Madsen & Janus Spindler Møller. 2011. Polylanguaging in superdiversity. Diversities 13(2). 23–37.

Juffermans, Kasper. 2015. Local languaging, literacy and multilingualism in a West African society (Critical Language and Literacy Studies 20). Bristol ; Buffalo: Multilingual Matters.

Ndecky, Albinou. 2011. Pratiques et représentations des parlers mancagnes de Goudomp (Sénégal). Amiens: Université de Picardie Jules Verne d’Amiens PhD.

Nunez, Joseph Jean François. 2015. L’alternance entre créole afro-portugais de Casamance, français et wolof au Sénégal. Une contribution trilingue à l’étude du contact des langues. Paris: INALCO; UCAD PhD.

Weidl, Miriam. 2018. Nga ne!? [What did you say!?] The role of Wolof in multilingual conversations in the Casamance: fluidity of linguistic repertoires. London: SOAS, University of London PhD.

Weidl, Miriam & Samantha Goodchild. In preparation. Triangulation method for researching multilingual contexts.



Samantha Goodchild is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at MultiLing – Center for Multilingualism in Society Across the Lifespan. She has a PhD in Linguistics from SOAS, University of London where she researched the practices and perceptions of multilingualism in Essyl, a village in Senegal. She completed an MA in Language Documentation and Description at SOAS, University of London and holds a BA (Hons) in Modern Language Studies from the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on the relationship between multilingualism and spatiality. 


Published Nov. 25, 2020 4:20 PM - Last modified Nov. 27, 2020 11:30 AM