Voicing the ‘other’

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Since the late 1970s, and particularly the early 1990s, work carried out on language ideologies within the fields of linguistic anthropology and the sociology of language has contributed considerably to an understanding of the interplay between speakers’ language use on the one hand, and their views and beliefs about language and its use on the other. At the same time, ongoing research into the phenomenon of code-switching within interactional sociolinguistics has demonstrated the multiple motivations that multilingual speakers may have in alternating between the various codes available to them. This paper provides a preliminary synthesis of the two approaches in the context of Scottish Gaelic-English bilinguals’ interactions, drawing on two corpora of recorded bilingual speech to look at how language choice can relate to expressions of language ideologies and the interactional contexts in which these expressions take place. We focus specifically on how speakers orient to language ideologies related to language policy and argue that code-switching offers the interactant a way to “voice the other” when expressing negative views of language policy and practice. We then consider the interactional motivations for drawing on this “other” voice in the discourse.


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