The Linguist

The Linguist 55,2

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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20 The Linguist Vol/55 No/2 2016 FEATURES Sarah Cartwright explores research into diverse cities around the world with a walk through Finsbury Park L ondon River (2009), by the Franco-Algerian director Rachid Boucharebet, is set in the weeks that followed the 7/7 London bombings in 2005. The plot focuses on two parents: an elderly Malian man living near Paris whose son has disappeared in London, and a mother from Kent whose daughter is also uncontactable. As they look for their children the two meet up in the Finsbury Park area of North London where, it turns out, the young people have been living together. The search is very much a journey of personal growth for the mother, who has to face up to her Islamophobia and fear of multiculturalism. This gentle film took me by surprise because it depicted my own neighbourhood: the mosque, the shops of Blackstock Road and nearby Harringay station. Familiarity with the locations enhanced the charm for me, as did the bilingual screenplay – there is much French spoken, mostly by Maghrébins (North Africans) in this very multicultural corner of London. A walk in the park Research findings on urban multilingualism were shared and debated at a conference in 2014 under the umbrella of the Lucide project ( Some young German participants were keen to visit and experience first-hand a multi-ethnic area of London and I volunteered to be their guide. Rather than the more obvious destination of the East End, I pointed them in the direction of Finsbury Park. Emerging from the Tube station, they expressed disappointed at the lack of diversity, a judgement based on the football fans there for an Arsenal match. However, as we started to walk, my guests began to see Finsbury Park as the diverse neighbourhood it really is. The first stop was a small Korean/Japanese restaurant at the bottom of Stroud Green Road where the walls are decorated in ancient Korean script. The multilinguistic landscape is visual as well as auditive. We progressed to Seven Sisters Road and the Islamic Community Centre, where we enjoyed a long chat with the man in charge of the shop about his work and faith. Next was Blackstock Road, where there is a strong Ethiopian presence. Having admired the Amharic signage, we dropped by the hairdressers for a conversation about colonialism. A few doors away we met the Kurdish owners of the naan bread shop for a snack and short discussion about their flight from Iraq. Back in Stroud Green, the Polish entrepreneur who runs the party balloon shop could not spare time to talk to us on a Saturday, her busiest day. However, venturing into one of the wig shops, we engaged in a chat about Urdu before a customer appeared and we were diverted by the languages of his home country: Nigeria. We then crossed the road to admire the range of Caribbean fruit and vegetables at the greengrocer's, who invited us to identify a selection of his produce – with mixed results. Final stop: the best coffee shop in London, where we were served by a hip Russian. This unplanned tour of a London neighbourhood brings to life the reality of multilingualism as an experience to be lived, rather than just a focus of academic study. Revenons à nos moutons, as is said in French – let's return to our sheep, or rather the conference itself. The Lucide project: 18 cities Funded by the European Commission, the Lucide project examined the state of multilingualism in 18 cities: Athens, Dublin, Hamburg, Limassol, London, Madrid, Melbourne, Montreal, Osijek, Oslo, Ottawa, Rome, Sofia, Strasbourg, Toronto, Utrecht, Vancouver and Varna. Project partners from these very different diverse cities contributed detailed reports and interviews. The size of the cities ranges from London with a population of more than 8 million to Utrecht with fewer than 350,000 inhabitants. Many, as ports, look Multilingual city views

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