Language and ethnicity at school:
some implications from theoretical developments in sociolinguistics
Langage et Société n° 116, June 2006, p. 51-71
This broadly-drawn paper tries to avoid a reductive analysis of ethno-linguistic processes. It begins which some reflections on the ways in which a notion often closely tied to ethnicity – “speech community” – has been displaced in recent years by research on “language ideologies” and “communities of practice”, and it raises questions about the priority that sociolinguists have traditionally given to language heritage and home socialisation, arguing that instead of taking their importance for granted, analysis needs to address their significance within the contingencies of situated interaction. In the second part, the paper turns to research on everyday interaction in multi-ethnic schools in London, and it describes the salience of other – non-ethnic – affiliations and identities (popular culture, curriculum German, and British social class). In the last part, the paper tries to illustrate how these other affiliations, identities and processes impact on the situated meaning of ethnically marked speech forms, and it ends by underlining the contribution that sociolinguistics can now make to wider understanding of ethnicity and race.
Ethnicity / schooling / sociolinguistics / social class / popular culture
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