Legitimisation and Power

Article Index

WG10 focuses on everyday practices and processes of legitimisation of people as legitimate (new) speakers. This implies a particular focus on issues of social inequality linked with practices of new-speakerhood, as well as on the challenges associated with investigating those issues. We are interested, in other words, in how power issues are at play in the legitimization processes that are crucial to social issues of new-speakerhood. We organise our work in three complementary directions:  We wish to ask what languages, linguistic resources and speakers are legitimised, delegitimised, hierarchised, in which context and by whom — to what end?  We also ask what ideologies of language, race, class, gender etc. are mobilised in order to legitimise or delegitimise people as (new) speakers: which boundaries, new or old, are created, by whom — and to what end?  Finally, we investigate what types of tensions are generated through those practices, how is legitimisation/delegitimisation contested, by whom — and, again, to what end? These questions include analysing, for example, how linguistic markets function, how valuation processes can be described and theorised, as well as a host of other questions which will emerge from our discussions with group members.   

Committee Members: 

James Costa (WG Leader)

Alfonso Del Percio (WG Leader)

Kamilla Kraft (Publications Officer)

Cassie Smith-Christmas (Communications Officer)    


Luisa Rojo

Heiko Marten

Bernie O' Rourke

Sara Brennan

Nicola Bermingham

Michael Hornsby

Geoffrey Roger

Rosina Marquez Reiter

Graham Turner

Nóra Schleicher

Maria Rosa Garrido Sardà

Kiran Kaur

Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin

Sari Pietikäinen

Lotte Thissen

Jürgen Jaspers

Lian Malai Madsen

Lucas John Duane Bernedo

Beatriz Lorente

Roberto Gomez-Fernandez

Bodó Csanád

Clara Keating

Wilson McLeod

Julia Sallabank

Julia de Bres

Martha Sif Karrebæk

Carla Bagna

Larissa Semiramis Schedel 

Sunni Minna

Leonie Cornips

Marco Santello

Joan Pujolar

Sarah Van Hoof

The languagecultural conceptualisation of ‘belonging’

Organizers: Jolien Clijsen Lotte Thissen, Vincent de Rooij & Leonie Cornips

Location: Soiron Building, Grote Gracht 80-82, Room 0.001 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, The Netherlands

While the concept of ‘belonging’ has been much theorized across other fields, in the field of (socio-)linguistics it seems to have been transplanted as one of the components or, even, substitutes of ‘social identity.’ How can we, based on empirical data, conceptualise and operationalise this notion and see to what extent it has explanatory power in modern-day sociolinguistic and linguistic anthropological studies. How can we approach this concept in a rigorous manner without pre-supposing that some linguistic features are inherently linked with belonging (Cornips & Strycharz 2014)? For sociolinguists, one of the challenges is to find out whether and how linguistic features (Jorgensen et al. 2011) we are less aware of take part in the construction of belonging as well. ‘Belonging’ may be related to official, public-oriented ‘formal structure’ of membership (Antonsich 2010) but may also refer to “personal, intimate, feeling of being ‘at home’ in a place” (ibid: 644). Belonging can thus have a political as well as a personal meaning, and can be considered to have an analytical as well as an emic dimension (Cornips & de Rooij, 2015; Thissen 2013). During this workshop, all speakers will elucidate their own understanding and conceptualisation of ‘belonging’. More specifically, (socio-) linguists will think about what ‘belonging’ could offer in sociolinguistic studies and how it could best be conceptualized (theoretically and methodologically). Those working outside (socio-)linguistics on the topic of ‘belonging’ will share their expertise and experience with the concept in their disciplines.

(New) Speakers in multilingual contexts: towards a sociolinguistics of the speaker

 5:30pm-7:30pm Monday 3rd April, 2016, Center of Applied Linguistics, University College London, Room 780.

Guest Speakers

Prof. Bernadette O'Rourke, Heriot Watt University

Prof. Joan Pujolar, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Prof. Li Wei, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

Prof. Jean Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck, University of London

Prof. Celia Roberts, King’s College London

Prof. Mike Baynham, University of Leeds

We would like to invite you to attend a public round-table discussion entitled “(New) Speakers in multilingual contexts: towards a sociolinguistics of the speaker”. The roundtable is part of a larger discussion taking place within our European network on New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe within the intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST). In our Action we have been using the “new speaker” label as a lens through which to understand the linguistic practices of multilingual speakers who, by engaging with languages other than their “native” or “national” language(s), need to cross existing social boundaries, re-evaluate their own levels of linguistic competence and creatively (re)structure their social practices to adapt to new and overlapping linguistic spaces. 

New plurilingual pathways for integration: Immigrants and language learning in the 21st Century  

BAAL / Cambridge University Press Applied Linguistics Seminar Programme 2015-2016 and COST Action IS1306 New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges -Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 26th & 27th May 2016

The 21st Century is witnessing increased discussions on immigration in local, national and international contexts. The aim of this seminar is to bridge the study of language and immigration and consider the extent to which immigrants learning new languages (which include learning majority, minority and/or heritage languages) may contribute to a more comprehensive and plurilingual view of integration today. The proceedings will be directed by key themes and objectives as follows:

• What are the opportunities and challenges for immigrants who learn new languages?

• To what extent do immigrant speakers challenge current conceptions of integration, cohesion and citizenship?

• Which steps or initiatives could facilitate a more comprehensive view of integration, cohesion and citizenship in national and minority language contexts?

Confirmed plenary speakers:

Professor Máiréad Nic Craith (Heriot-Watt University)

Professor Alison Phipps (University of Glasgow)

Round table discussion: Immigration in the 21st century: language, integration and citizenship

Professor Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost (Cardiff University)

Professor Bernadette O’Rourke (Heriot-Watt University)

Dr Cassie Smith-Christmas (University of the Highlands and Islands)

Workshop: Immigrants, integration and multilingual practices in the UK

Ms Mirona Moraru (Cardiff University)


2nd Poznan Conference of Celtic Studies


Plenary lecture: Dr John Walsh (NUI Galway) From shame to pride: the emotional trajectories of 'new speakers' of minoritised languages

Małgorzata Machowska-Kościak (Trinity College Dublin), Karolina Rosiak (Adam Mickiewicz University), Kathryn Jones (IAITH) ‘They lie, swear and their weddings are completely different’ - language socialisation and affect in Polish migrants to Ireland and Wales. 

Nicole Dołowy-Rybińska (Polish Academy of Sciences) Language learners or new speakers: the transfer of the Breton Diwan immersion education model to the Lower Sorbian Witaj project

Michael Hornsby (Adam Mickiewicz University) Performing ‘new speakerness’: Issues of legitimacy and ownership in Celtic languages

Charlotte Selleck (University of Worcester) ‘Some people don't speak English properly because they’re so Welsh’: A discussion of how students at an English-medium school understand and orientate to language commodification and social mobility both inside and outside of Wales.

Marina Snesareva (Moscow State University) Palatalisation in Dublin Irish, or How to Speak with a Dublin Accent.

Discussion led by Stuart Dunmore

Refugees, New Speakers & Global Law

Location: Tilburg, Nederland Dates: 23rd and 24th March, 2017

This Research Impact in Action workshop seeks to address the question of how scholars working at the intersection of law and sociolinguistics can contribute to shaping professional practice and policy and create on the ground impact within the field of migration and asylum. In this small event we aim to have presentations on grounded research related to refugees and asylum processes. Through workshops titled ‘Bridging the gap between research, policy and practice’ and Workshop: ‘Voice and Research Impacts’ we will discuss how to create impact in policy and practice through collaboration between different stakeholder groups and academics in the fields of law and socio-linguistics. Migration and asylum issues lie at the intersection between law and sociolinguistics. Exploring the discursive elements of migration provides another method to understand the legal conditions newly arrived migrants encounter. Refugees, policymakers and the many people that work in the legal and justice systems are important stakeholders. Their engagement at various stages is crucial to understand the discourses and issues we discussed above. Grounded research of these conditions also influences how research can create tools for policymakers and shape what occurs in the practice of law. In highlighting social discourses, linguistic and legal practices, we aim to push further and raise the question of how scholars can create impact in how law is experienced on the ground from the perspective of refugees and those that work in the system. We would ask scholars to consider their research from the perspective of stakeholders, improving relationships or ‘pathways’ for impact, potential issues affecting practice or tools to create change.


Whole Action Conference


14-16 SEPTEMBER 2017

 Sara Brennan | New speakers, new spaces, new value? New speakers and the promotion of minority languages as economic resources Sara Brennan Friday 16 | FLUC-TP2 | 15h30-17h30

Whereas language has traditionally been conceived of and (de)valorised in relation to culture, identity, and nation, these notions now co-exist, intertwine, and at times clash with discourses and practices framing the value of language in economic terms that have grown increasingly prominent under the politico-economic conditions of globalised late capitalism. As a part of this shift, minority language and economic development policymakers alike across Europe have increasingly drawn on these emerging discourses to promote the use of minority languages in a space in which they have often been marginalised: the commercial sphere.

Kirandeep Kaur Friday 16 | FLUC-Átrio Paulo Quintela | 14h30-15h30

The Photovoice Exhibition will be the culmination of a photo collection drive by refugees. The aim of this project has been for refugees and asylum seekers living in Amsterdam to choose how to be seen. Over the period of four months the group has photographed, edited and put together a visual representation of their lives. We often talk of legality from the perspective of laws; we talk of legality, illegality a-legality, however we often don’t see what it means to experience those legal conditions, to understand what that lived sense of legality is. Often refugees or asylum seekers or simply displaced persons are depicted as being passive. When we do so we do not account of racial, gendered or socio-cultural identities, histories or simply their lived realities. In this sense we see refugees as subjects who are voiceless and invisible in law. What we see is others in more powerful positions; such as officials, lawyers, politicians, journalists, even researchers speaking not only about them but for them. In this process they also lose control of the way they are seen, if they are seen at all. Through these photos we will explore how law shapes experiences, interactions and daily practices of refused asylum seekers by creating a voice and visibility for themselves. 

Valorising Displaced Voices Kirandeep Kaur Friday 16 | FLUC-TP2 | 15h30-17h30

The apparent European ‘refugee crisis’ has created unprecedented public, political and scholarly interest. This has also created a challenge for academia in how researchers think about and respond to a changing and globalising world. What is the relevance of our research for the real world outside of academia? Refugees and displaced actors are unheard and able to have a muted voice or simply voiceless. But, what does it mean for those on the margins of society to have their voices heard? This panel will seek to highlight the ways in which researchers and practitioners can affect social change through recognising and highlighting the voices of displaced actors in their efforts to empower their own communities.

 The following is a list of members' recent publications  which specifically address the theme of 'new speakers.'

Absillis K. & J. Jaspers. (2016). Beware of the weeds. Reconsidering Flemish purism as a utopian discourse. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 242, 1-24.

Barni M., Bagna C., 2016, 1 March – A day without immigrants: the urban linguistic landscape and the immigrants' protest. In: R. Blackwood, E. Lanza and H. Woldemariam (eds.), Negotiating & Contesting Identities in the Linguistic Lanscape, London-New York, Bloomsbury: 55-70.

Barni M., Bagna C., 2015, The critical turn in LL: New methodologies and new items in LL. “Linguistic Landscape” 1-2: 6-18. 

Brennan, S. C., & Costa, J. (2016). The Indexical Reordering of Language in Times of Crisis: Nation, Region, and the Rebranding of Place in Shetland and Western Ireland. Signs & Society, 4(S1), 106–137.

Brennan, S., Danson, M. & O’Rourke, B. (2016). “Selling a Language to Save it? The Business-Oriented Promotion of Gaelic and Irish.” In W. McLeod, A. Gunderloch, & R. Dunbar (Eds.), Cànan & Cultar (Language and Culture): Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 8. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, pp. 205-221.

Cioè-Peña, M., Moore, E., Martín Rojo, L. (2016). The Burden of ‘Nativeness’: Four Plurilingual Student-Teachers’ Stories. Bellaterra journal of teaching and learning language and literature

Costa, J. (2016). Introduction : Penser Les Langues Régionales Dans L’enseignement Bilingue. In Education Bilingue En France: Politiques Linguistiques, Modèles et Pratiques, edited by Jürgen Erfurt and Christine Hélot. Frankfurt am Main, Bern & Berlin: Peter Lang. 

Costa, J. (2017). On the Pros and Cons of Standardizing Scots: Notes from the North of a Small Island. In P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne (Eds.), Standardizing Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global Periphery (pp. 47–65). London: Routledge.

Costa, J., De Korne, H., & Lane, P. (2017). Introduction. Standardising Minority Languages: Reinventing peripheral languages in the 21st century? In P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne (Eds.), Standardizing Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global Periphery (pp. 1–23). London: Routledge.

Del Percio, A., and S. Van Hoof. (2017). Enterprising Migrants: Language, Education and the Politics of Activation. In Language, Education, and Neoliberalism, edited by M. Flubacher, and A. Del Percio. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Hornsby M. (2016). Lemko linguistic identity: Contested pluralities. Language Documentation and Conservation in Europe 9: 13-25. 

Hornsby M. (2016). 'Varieties of Variation in a Very Small Place' Revisited: Some Considerations from Wilamowice. In: Olko, Justyna; Wicherkiewicz, Tomasz; Borges, Robert (eds.)  Integral Strategies for Language Revitalization. Warsaw: University of Warsaw, 81-90.

Hornsby M. (2016). Du shtetl à la ville: à la recherche d’un yiddish (presque) perdu (From the shtetl to the city: looking for an (almost) lost variety of Yiddish). Droit et Cultures: Les langues autochtones dans la cité 72(2): 227-240. 

Hornsby M. and Rosiak, K. (2016). Motivational Factors in the Acquisition of Welsh in Poland. Studia Celtica Posnaniensia 1: 57-72.

Jaspers, J. (2016). Diglossia and beyond. In: O. García, N. Flores & M. Spotti (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Society and Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Jaspers J. (2017). Language education policy and sociolinguistics. Toward a new critical engagement. In: Tollefson & Perez-Milans (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Language Policy and Planning. 

Jaspers J. (2017). Double-edged valorizations of urban heteroglossia. In: P. Van Avermaet, S. Sierens, S. Slembrouck & K. Maryns (Eds.), The multilingual edge of education. Palgrave Macmillan. 

Martín Rojo, L. y Rodríguez, L.R. (2016). Muda lingüística y movilidad social. Trayectorias de jóvenes migrantes hacia la universidad. Discurso y Sociedad, vol. 10(1), pp. 100-133. 

Muth, S. and A. Del Percio. 2017. Introduction: Policing Language and Speakers for Commodification. Language Policy.

O’Rourke, B., Pujolar, J., & Ramallo, F. (2015). New speakers of minority languages: the challenging opportunity. Special issue of the International Journal for the Sociology of Language. January 2015. Vol. 231. 1-20. ISSN: 1613-3668. DOI 10.1515/ijsl-2014-0029.

O’Rourke, B., & Pujolar, J. (2015). New speakers and processes of new speakerness across time and space. Applied Linguistics Review, 6(2), 145–150. doi:10.1515/applirev-2015-0007

Pujolar, J., & Puigdevall, M. (2015). Linguistic mudes: how to become a new speaker in Catalonia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2015(231), 167–187. doi:10.1515/ijsl-2014-0037 

  Roger, Geoffrey. (2015). Aviv Amit. Regional Language Policies in France during World War II. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2014. Language Policy 2015:1-3.

Roger, Geoffrey & De Bres, J. (2017). Langues de France et Charte européenne des langues régionales et minoritaires : inventaire critique des arguments anti-ratification (2014-2015). Sociolinguistic Studies 

Smith-Christmas, C.  (2016). Regression on the Fused Lect Continuum?:  Discourse Markers in Scottish Gaelic-English Speech. Journal of Pragmatics, 94, 64-75 

Smith-Christmas, C. (2017).  'Is it really for talking?:'  The implications of associating a minority language with the school.  Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 30 (1), 32-47.