The New Speakers Blog

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New Speakers and Brexit

[This post was published as a report in July 2016 as a reflection of the Migration and Asylum Roundtable at the Second Whole Action Conference in Hamburg]

Moving on from the COST Migration and Asylum Roundtable: New Speakers and Brexit

The discussions at the Roundtable were fascinating and this is also a thank you to all those who attended and participated actively in the discussions. I originally intended to write a summary on the Roundtable and a call for further discussions on the participation from COST members on constructing a co-ordinated response to migration and asylum issues. In ordinary circumstances I would give a socio-legal argument, and discuss how the intersection of positive law, language and social realities places refugees on the social margins. However, recent events have made me view our discussions in a slightly different light.

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Putting the social into speech processing

On July 11th, UCL will be hosting a small group of phoneticians with more than just their interest in exotic speech sounds in common.

A few years ago, Bronwen was approached by Gisela to supervise a PhD investigating sociophonetic variation in Galicia. Not quite knowing what she was getting into, Bronwen very enthusiastically agreed, thinking that this would be a great opportunity to combine her work on sociophonetics, specifically, accent variation, with her interest in second language learning. Little did she realize that she would soon be exploring a whole new literature, that of the New Speaker phenomenon.

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How can we help change the discourses about migration?

We’ve recently heard the news of an airstrike on a refugee camp in Northern Syria, which came a day after a truce was extended to include Aleppo. On the same day, the news was followed the apparently more worrying announcement that the departure of the Turkish Prime Minister would threaten the current deal between the EU and Turkey over migrant numbers. (A deal in any case which in all likelihood violates international law.)

The world is clearly in the midst of a humanitarian crisis; conflict, displacement, underdevelopment, famine, disease… Though that is not the crisis we hear about the most.

 

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Dètz jorns en Escòcia per parlar de lenga e de poder

Dètz jorns en Escòcia per parlar de lenga e de poder

Me fuguèt recentament balhada l’oportunitat, a travèrs d’un financiament STSM de l’Action COST IS1306 ‘Nòus locutors dins una Euròpa multilinga’, de passar dètz jorns en Escòcia.

S’agissiá de trabalhar amb Bernadette O’Rourke, Professora a l’Universitat Heriot-Watt d’Edimborg, sus de tematicas dau Grop de Trabalh 10 (WG10) d’aqueu projèct que ne’n siáu co-coordonator amb Alfonso Del Percio de l’Universitat d’Oslo en Norveja.

Aqueu grop de trabalh, qu’acampa de cercaires de l’Euròpa entiera, cerca de cavar la question de la legitimitat dei nòus locutors dins de contèxts de lengas minorizadas o non en Euròpa, e dins aqueu cadre la problematica dei nòus locutors es clarament centrala.

O sabèm ben en Occitània, mai se pòt dire la mema causa dins mantuneis autrei luècs, sufís pas de sacher parlar occitan per èstre acceptat per leis autrei locutors.

Fau tanben es reconoissut coma locutor legitim, es a dire dotat de la capacitat de s’exprimir publicament en Occitan, per èstre prés au seriós, cresegut, mostrar una certa autoritat, o tot simplament per que lo mond acceptèsson aqueu o aquela qu’a aprés la lenga fòra la familha coma interlocutor e que li parlèsson, o respondèsson, en occitan.

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The “legitimate” new speaker

Thanks to the COST New Speakers Network, I was given the opportunity to visit Sari Pietikäinen and her research team (Jyväskylä Discourse Hub) in December 2015.

I am currently working with Alexandre Duchêne at the Institute of Multilingualism of the University of Fribourg.

Together, we are doing ethnographic fieldwork in a town at the French-(Swiss)German language border in Switzerland, which brands itself as bilingual tourism destination, what is linked to particular linguistic requirements and tensions.

For my thesis I am investigating the branding’s impact on the definition of the legitimate and authentic tourism worker on this specific site.

My STSM at the University of Jyväskylä enabled me to engage in meaningful conversations with other researchers who are working with the concept of legitimacy.

By comparing legitimacy-issues of new speakers across different sites (e.g. cleaning work, indigenous tourism, handcraft, sports), I could learn a lot on the complex challenges in other multilingual contexts.

The scientific mission turned out to be a great opportunity for networking, and further collaboration is already scheduled.

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