Lingoing and Everyday Metrolingual Metalanguage
Book chapter byCritical Perspectives on Linguistic Fixity and Fluidity. Languagised Lives by Jürgen Jaspers and Lian Malai Madsen (eds.), 2019.
While the ways in which people talk about their everyday language use suggest that they live in a languagised world (a world in which language labels and enumerations are the common stuff of everyday language talk), their understanding of what those language labels mean may be both diverse and flexible. It is important not to make top-down assumptions about the meanings behind language labels. In this paper we are interested in the metrolingual metalanguage people use to describe everyday language use. This is not a question of a disjuncture between a delanguagised realm of academic analysis (such as the recent move towards translingual terminology) and a languagised realm of everyday metalanguage (where languages are named and labelled along normative lines), but rather a call to make visible what lies beneath such everyday terms and linguistic labels. Through an analysis of various discussions of everyday language use, we argue that although people often appear to talk in terms of fixed languages, such accounts are often flexible, negotiable and contestable. This is not therefore best understood in terms of a polarity between fixity and fluidity but rather as a flexible array of entangled language ideologies.