Talking multilingual families into being: language practices and ideologies of a Brazilian-Norwegian family in Norway

Journal article by Rafael Lomeu Gomes in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, published July 12, 2020.

Journal cover

Abstract

This article sets out to explore the relationships between parental language ideologies, and language use and negotiation in parent–child interaction. The primary dataset is composed of around 10 h of audio recordings of everyday interactions of family members (i.e. a Brazilian mother, a Norwegian father, and a 3-year old Norwegian born daughter) during a three-year ethnographically-oriented project undertaken in Norway. A discourse analytical approach with a focus on instances of language negotiation led to the identification of a set of seven parental discourse strategies in the corpus: addressee-bound, code-bound, code rebuttal, filling gaps, rephrase, say ‘x’, and ‘what is–’ frame. Results indicate that, contrary to what parents might expect, drawing on discourse strategies that make explicit references to language names might hinder the active use of the child’s full linguistic repertoire. Conversely, discourse strategies that only implicitly serve as requests to use a given language can foster continuous multilingual language use. Finally, I suggest that strategies that make explicit references to named languages could be linked to a one-person-one-language-one-nation ideology, and I demonstrate how these strategies help us understand the ways family members navigate their complex national affiliations and talk their multilingual selves into being.

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Published July 13, 2020 11:22 AM - Last modified July 13, 2020 11:22 AM