Chapter 1. Multilingual practices in professional settings

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Drawing on naturalistic video and audio recordings of international meetings, and within the framework of conversation analysis, ethnomethodology and interactional linguistics, this chapter studies how multilingual resources are mobilized in social interactions among professionals, how available linguistic and embodied resources are identified and used by the participants, which solutions are locally elaborated by them when they are confronted with various languages spoken but not shared among them, and which definition of multilingualism they adopt for all practical purposes.Focusing on the multilingual solutions emically elaborated in international professional meetings, we show that the participants orient to a double principle: on the one hand, they orient to the <i>progressivity</i> of the interaction, adopting all the possible resources that enable them to go on within the current activity; on the other hand, they orient to the <i>intersubjectivity</i> of the interaction, treating, preventing and repairing possible troubles and problems of understanding. Specific multilingual solutions can be adopted to keep this difficult balance between progressivity and intersubjectivity; they vary according to the settings, the competences at hand, the linguistic and embodied resources locally defined by the participants as publicly available, the multilingual resources treated as totally or partially shared, as transparent or opaque, and as needing repair or not.The paper begins by sketching the analytical framework, including the methodology and the data collected; it then presents some general findings, before offering an analysis of various ways in which participants keep the balance between progressivity and intersubjectivity in different multilingual interactional contexts.


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