Days 1-5: Languaging


by Natalia, in Birmingham


As the Birmingham’s Mailbox building ( changed its methodology of sending news (the former Royal Mail building is today the site for BBC Birmingham) I hereby post my first text (text as defined by Adrian Blackledge in the presentation on Critical Discourse Analysis) in this blog.

Aller Anfang ist schwer, je demarre with a literacy diary.

Little d, big D: discourse The critical approaches to multilingualism are <<aiming to reveal the links between local discourse practices (multilingual or monolingual) and the wider social, ideological and discourse order- between the little “d” and big “D”>> (Marilyn Martin Jones, PowerPoint presentation). Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), one of the critical approaches to multilingualism, mentions a few <<discourse strategies>> (Adrian Blackledge, PowerPoint Presentation): <<referential, predicational, argumentation, perspectivation, and intensifying and mitigation strategies>>.

Two Ts: partnership teaching The session (Angela Creese) on partnership teaching (Bourne & McPake, 1991; Nias, 1993) proposed to look at the way <<language policy is played out in the classroom interaction>>(PowerPoint presentation) by looking at the interaction between teachers and children. The presentation treated the two classroom teachers separately, analyzing their <<interactional discursive differences>> (Presentation Talk) as separate spaces, which raised questions about the organization of the space that is common to both teachers (including possible shifts in/display of/construction of expertise).

C for Carnivalesque The notion of <<carnivalesque discourse>> introduced by Blackledge & Creese was a happy discovery in terms of its placing in a classroom setting. In a 2009 paper, Blackledge & Creese mention that <<The notions of change and renewal, and of “becoming,” are crucial in Bakhtin’s understanding of the carnivalesque. In their study of young second-language learners, Iddings and McCafferty point out that “although Bakhtin clearly viewed carnival as an act of rebellion, the mood of rebellion in carnival is not primarily one of anger for him, but most saliently one of satire, critique, and ultimately, play”>> (Blackledge &Creese 2009, p. 33). Iddings & McCafferty (2007) use the term in a study involving second language learners and focusing on language play. The <<becoming>> of the second language learners in a classroom setting in terms of the ‘carnivalesque’ actions that they construct (with laughter as a resource) is an idea I consider developping further.

M(a/i)cro context Linguistic ethnography (Angela Creese, Presentation talk) sees <<context>> both at the macro level (e.g. language policy) and at a micro level (e.g. the representations of the students as expressed during classroom interaction). This raised three question: (1) the existence of another ‘micro’, interactional level (the way the participants engage in/orient to/ co-construct actions in the interaction); (2) the triangulation of the above data sets (Lat. ‘texere’) and (3) the methodological tools used by linguistic ethnography (answers given: ‘functional analysis of the data’, ‘question types’, Angela Creese: Presentation Talk).

Singular L and plural L: language(s) The presentation on ‘translanguaging’ (Adrian Blackledge, Angela Creese & Arvind Bhatt), was introduced as being ‘a matter of voice, not of language’ (Blommaert 2010:196) and valued in terms of <<emphasizes speaker, emphasizes voice>> (PowerPoint presentation); The question that was raised concerns the ads that a 2009 term (Garcia, 2009) like ‘translanguaging’ brings to the understanding of multilingualism (as the ideas of language as a dynamic system and the speaker as an actor/agent are previous to 2009). Adrian Blackledge mentioned two elements, the <<(political) power understood as hierarchies at the languages level and the ideologies>>; Angela Creese mentioned <<agency>>.

Vertical S and horizontal S: slicing <<Vertical slicing (building of case studies, triangulation with other data sources)>> and <<horizontal slicing>> (comparison across cases) were presented (Marilyn Martin-Jones) as possible tools for analyzing interview data.

Etic E, emic E and empathetic E Ethnography is said to take an emic perspective (Angela Creese, PowerPoint presentation), as opposed to an etic perspective, terms coming from the phonemic-phonetic distinction (Angela Creese, presentation talk). Ethnography <<‘Juxtaposes the emic and holistic so that we are introduced to the local and situated understandings and actions of members alongside the bigger picture. Hornberger reminds us that it is through this emic/holistic ‘creative tension’ that ethnographic research emerges’ (Hornberger, 1994: 688)>> (Angela Creese, PowerPoint presentation). The question raised concerns the emic character and the emic analysis approach of the field notes, and of the (interview and interactional) transcripts. Ethnography is also said to be <<empathetic>>: ‘Choosing what to write down is both intuitive, reflecting the ethnographer’s changing sense of what might possibly be made interesting or important to future readers and empathetic, reflecting the ethnographer’s sense of what is interesting or important to the people he is observing’ (Angela Creese, PowerPoint presentation); or terms like <<ventriloquation>> (Deirdre Martin, Round Table talk). The issue raised is that emic perspective, as understood by ethnography could be different from the emic perspective as defined by other methodologies (CA for example).

Trans-ing One of the data extracts discussed in one of the three data sessions of the week showed several instances of a participant reporting someone else’s talk; for that, the participant used both Cantonese and English, while from the data we understood that the original utterances had been produced in Cantonese. This extract triggered a reflection on the “reported” nature of some of the data presented during the week; the “language(s)” used for reporting were: methodologies, terms, policies, institutions, pedagogies.

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