The Linguist

TheLinguist 58,3-June/July 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL JUNE/JULY The Linguist 11 FEATURES challenges' advocated for terminological changes, replacing the term 'non-native speaker' with 'new speaker'. As such, it drew attention to the debate around what it means to be a 'non-native' speaker of a language, questioning the deficiency model inherent in being the 'non' native user. 8 The term 'new speakers' refers to individuals and groups who adopt and use a language variety other than their native language. It includes all multilingual citizens who, by engaging with languages other than their 'native' or 'national' language(s), need to cross existing social boundaries, re-evaluate their levels of linguistic competence and creatively (re)structure their social practices to adapt to new and overlapping linguistic spaces. 9 I'd like to share the story of one such new speaker: the story of Dawid. Originally from Poland, Dawid became a new speaker of English after settling in the UK in 2002, but this did not happen overnight and his language- learning journey had many challenges. Dawid had learned English at school from an early age and had a good grasp of the language. However, he spoke "with an accent" and felt that his English was not as good as he wanted it to be. This made him nervous about applying for jobs in his specialised field (engineering), so he applied for temporary hotel work and cleaning jobs, hoping that this would help to improve his English. Unfortunately, in these jobs a lot of his colleagues were also Polish speakers, so he did not get much exposure to English. At night, he was often too tired after a long day at work to attend formal classes or do self- study. 10 In the longer term, his English did begin to improve, mainly when his son started school. Initially, he questioned whether he should be speaking Polish to his son and worried that this would confuse him – another of the myths about bilingualism which feeds into monolingual ideologies. Who's proficient anyway? While Dawid came to the UK with a good grasp of English, this is not always the case, and many newcomers require translation and interpreting. This is, of course, a contentious political issue which frequently creeps back into public discourse. A few years ago there were talks about cutting social welfare payments for those who did not speak English. Even those who speak enough English to get by may need interpreting services: asking for a pint of milk in the shop, for example, is not the same as trying to defend oneself in a court of law. The important question that needs to be asked is what do we mean by proficiency, who decides this and what are the consequences for individuals? These are questions which are pertinent to linguistics and those in the linguistic professions. We need to ask ourselves, 'How should we react to these situations, if at all?' It is, I think, important for us as linguists to question the different levels of linguistic intolerance in our societies. Often it is not seen as intolerance because such behaviours and ways of thinking have become the norm, and it is our job to challenge these norms. It is also our job to be self-reflective and self-critical of our own practices and our own monolingual ideologies, which are so deeply engrained that we tend to accept them without question. In 2008, a Group of Intellectuals was set up to advise the European Commission on the contribution of multilingualism to intercultural dialogue. 11 They proposed the idea of a personal adoptive language, arguing that for those Europeans whose mother tongue occupies a dominant position in the world, acquiring a personal adoptive language would be particularly important in order to avoid remaining isolated in monolingualism. This is perhaps a lesson for us all. This is a shortened version of Bernadette O'Rourke's Threlford Memorial Lecture, delivered at Members' Day on 16 March. Visit to listen to the full lecture. Notes 1 2 O'Rourke, B and Pujolar, J (2015) 'New Speakers and Processes of New Speakerness Across Time and Space'. In Applied Linguistics Review. 6,2, 145-150; 3 For a broader discussion on minority languages see Hogan-Brun, G and O'Rourke, B (2019) The Palgrave Handbook of Minority Languages and Communities, London: Palgrave Macmillan 4 See O'Rourke, B (2019) 'Carving Out Breathing Spaces for Galician: New speakers' investment in monolingual practices'. In Jaspers, J and Madsen LM (eds) Critical Perspectives on Linguistic Fixity and Fluidity: Languagised lives, Oxon: Routledge 5 Jones, B (1/7/16) 'Hate Crimes Up Fivefold in Week After UK Vote to Leave EU'. CNN 6 Cunha de Souza, LE et al (1/7/16) 'The Legitimizing Role of Accent on Discrimination Against Immigrants'. In European Journal of Social Psychology, 46,5, 609-620 7 Cazenave, F (19/2/14) 'Discrimination: un testing épingle les agents immobiliers'. In Le Monde 8 For more information on this project, funded under EU COST, see 9 O'Rourke, B and Pujolar, J (2019) 'From New Speaker to Speaker: Outcomes, reflections and policy recommendations from COST Action IS1306 on "New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and challenges".' IAITH: Welsh Centre for Language Planning 10 For a discussion of similar examples see Holm, E, O'Rourke, B and Danson, M (2019) 'Employers Could Use Us, But They Don't. Voices from blue- collar workplaces in a northern periphery.' In Language Policy, Springer 11 QUESTIONING THE NORM Bernadette O'Rourke gives the 2019 Threlford Lecture (below); and her young son was told to "speak English" in a UK supermarket (above) © CHRIS CHRISTODOULOU

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