Reference : Getting the job done: Truncated multilingualism among Asian small business owners in ...
Scientific Presentations in Universities or Research Centers : Scientific presentation in universities or research centers
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Getting the job done: Truncated multilingualism among Asian small business owners in Europe
Serwe, Stefan Karl mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Languages, Culture, Media and Identities (LCMI) >]
9th International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB 9)
10-13 June 2013
Nanyang Technological University
[en] Multilingualism ; Linguistic repertoire ; Language at the workplace
[en] The traditional concept of individual multilingualism in linguistics as the balanced competence in multiple monolingual norms has received its fair share of criticism throughout the last two decades (Rampton 1995, Blommaert et al. 2005; Pennycook 2012). Multilingual competence is more adequately captured as domain-specific and practice-centred knowledge. This is particularly so for the multilingualism of migrants, which Blommaert (2010:23) describes as “repertoires composed of specialized but partially and unevenly developed resources”, or truncated multilingualism. Such multilingual repertoires comprise various language resources at different degrees of competence. While some resources may be maximally developed to include a range of receptive and productive skills, others may only be partially or minimally developed. Consequently, an individual’s truncated repertoire represents “a patchwork of skills” (Blommaert & Backus 2011). However, there is still little empirical evidence on how such patchworks are constituted. The aim of this paper is to trace how truncated multilingualism develops in relation to professional practice. More specifically, we present an investigation into the construction of linguistic repertoires of self-employed small business owners from Asia in the borderlands of Germany, France and Luxembourg, a population generally overlooked in workplace studies. First, we attempt to clarify the types of communicative competence required at these workplaces. Second, we identify how immigrant entrepreneurs use and develop the resources in their multilingual repertoires to complete work tasks. Our focus here is on two case studies of entrepreneurs from Thailand. Biographical interviews, participant-aided visualisations of professional practices, as well as participant observations of these entrepreneurs at their workplaces constitute the data. We are thus able to investigate and construct each entrepreneur’s multilingual repertoire following Blommaert & Backus (forthcoming). The results show that language resources are applied and developed within the affordances of workplace practices.

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