Wednesday Seminar: What can interactional sociolinguistics bring to the family language policy research table?

Seyed Hadi Mirvahedi (Postdoctoral fellow at MultiLing) will give a talk on analyzing language practices in the family through interactional sociolinguistics.

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Since King, Fogle, & Logan-Terry's (2008) paper titled family language policy , the family language policy (FLP) scholarship has regularly drawn upon Spolsky's (2004, 2009) tripartite conceptualization of language policy to investigate families' language ideology , language practices , and language management . While the language ideology component of FLP has been studied as a 'social construct' (Curdt-Christiansen, 2016, p. 695) and a forceful 'interpretive filter in the relationship of language and society' that feeds all the language policy-related decisions (Woolard & Schieffelin, 1994, p. 62), FLP research has turned its focus to language socialization at home for two main reasons. Firstly, as King and Fogle (2017, p. 322) argue, FLP is often “unarticulated, fluid and negotiated moment by moment” necessitating examining not only the “explicit” (Shohamy, 2006) and “overt” (Schiffman, 1996) decisions of the “language managers” (Spolsky, 2009, p. 259), i.e. parents, but also the “invisible” dimension of FLP (Curdt-Christiansen, 2018). Secondly, given that irrespective of the linguistic ideologies of the parents, it is language practices in the family that will have the utmost impact on the children's linguistic development (De Houwer, 2007). In this light, language practices are considered to be the “practiced” (Bonacina-Pugh, 2012), and hence the “real” language policy (Spolsky, 2009, p. 4) of the family.

In this seminar, drawing on findings from my research on Malay and Tamil families in Singapore, I would argue that as language socialization studies in the context of home focus on the question of through and in what languages ​​family members socialize each other, they oftentimes fail to provide an explanation for such language practices at home. That is, they fail to analyze language practices in the family in relation to the social structures in which they happen. I would then go on to suggest and demonstrate that applying approaches and understandings from Interactional Sociolinguistics to language practices at home allows us to bring the analysis of social structure into connection with analysis of social (inter) action, what Fairclough (2000) considers the strength of the concept of practice. 


Bonacina-Pugh, F. (2012). Researching 'practiced language policies': Insights from conversation analysis. Language Policy, 11 , 213-234. doi: 10.1007 / s10993-012-9243-x

Curdt-Christiansen, XL (2016). Conflicting language ideologies and contradictory language practices in Singaporean multilingual families. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development . doi: 10.1080 / 01434632.2015.1127926

Curdt-Christiansen, XL (2018). Family language policy. In JW Tollefson & M. Pérez-Milans (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of language policy and planning . Oxford: Oxford University Press.

De Houwer, A. (2007). Parental language input patterns and children's bilingual use. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28 411-424. doi: 10.1017.S0142716407070221

Fairclough, N. (2000). Discourse, social theory, and social research: The discourse of welfare reform. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 4 (2), 163-195.

King, KA, Fogle, L., & Logan-Terry, A. (2008). Family language policy. Language and Linguistic compass, 2 (5), 907-922.

King, KA, & Fogle, LW (2017). Family language policy. In TL McCarty & S. May (Eds.), Language policy and political issues in education, encyclopedia of language and education (pp. 315-327). New York: Springer.

Schiffman, H. (1996). Linguistic culture and language policy . London: Routledge.

Shohamy, E. (2006). Language Policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches . London and New York: Routledge.

Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Spolsky, B. (2009). Language management . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Woolard, KA, & Schieffelin, BB (1994). Language ideology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 23 , 55-82.


Published Nov. 9, 2020 9:15 AM - Last modified Nov. 9, 2020 10:00 AM