PROJECT TITLE: Multilingualism and Mobility: Linguistic Practices and Construction of Identity

REFERENCE: FFI2011-26964
PI: Melissa Moyer
TEAM MEMBERS: Gabriel Budach, Eva Codó, Alexandre Duchêne, Maria Rosa Garrido, Monica Heller, Safae Jabri and Maria Sabaté Dalmau
FUNDING AMOUNT: 39.000 euros
FUNDING BODY: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Spain

This project focuses on the study of multilingualism from the perspective of the recent mobilities and globalisation paradigm (Urry 2007, Sassen 1998, Pennycook 2007). This project takes up the analysis of linguistic practices of mobile citizens with transnational trajectories such as the migrants or tourists who come to Spain and interact and communicate with civic institutions and with autochthonous people whose life trajectories are more stable. This research departs from the point of view of these transnational people, and it takes into account the ways in which they construct their identities within their social networks as well as how they interact with the local communities through their multilingual practices. The way in which information and services relevant to mobile citizens is organized and the everyday multilingual practices of immigrants and tourists does not fit with the previsions of the institutions belonging to the public, private and NGO-like sectors who are responsible for providing services  to newcomers (Moyer 2011, 2010, Sabaté i Dalmau 2010, Codó and Garrido 2010). For this reason, it is relevant to study intercultural communication from the perspective of transnational citizens. The present project, also, seeks to examine the categories immigrant and tourist and to characterize their linguistic practices as well as to understand the intersections of language with social class, ethnicity, gender and age.

The main aim of this project is to conduct a multi-sited ethnography in four contexts which will provide access to transnational communities who moved to Spain for leisure purposes or to find better life and work chances. These settings are: a tourist enclave, an ethnic business, a multinational company with non-Spanish employees, and a non-profit transnational association or organization. The specific objectives are: (a) to establish the different ways in which transnational groups manage and practice multilingualism in each context (b) to understand their linguistic practices and how different (or similar)  these are according to social class, gender, ethnicity and age of the participants in the interactions, (c) to investigate the role of English as a lingua franca employed among transnational people as an inter-group and intra-group communication
strategies, (d) to contribute to the knowledge of a new sociolinguistic situation in our society from the point of view of the mobilities paradigm, (e) to advance and provide new practical and linguistic knowledge which can be useful for the management of multilingualism in public, private and non-governmental institutions.

A qualitative methodology which requires undertaking extensive ethnographic fieldwork is adopted in each of the sites studied. The data obtained through participant observation and field notes are complemented with fine-grained transcriptions of audio and video recordings conducted in the four different contexts, in-depth interviews (spontaneous and structured) audio and video recordings and, finally, supporting secondary data such as legalisation, official documents, and media-collected statements from the key representatives of the social networks we aim to investigate. The use of a wide range of data allows for the triangulation of findings and provides further evidence supporting our interpretations of the linguistic practices of the social groups under study.