Reference : Multilingualism as capital: Linguistic repertoires of immigrant entrepreneurs
Scientific Presentations in Universities or Research Centers : Scientific presentation in universities or research centers
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Multilingualism as capital: Linguistic repertoires of immigrant entrepreneurs
Serwe, Stefan Karl mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Languages, Culture, Media and Identities (LCMI) >]
Tilburg meets Luxembourg: Benelux perspectives in changing multilingualisms
17 December 2012
Babylon Centre for the Study of Superdiversity, Tilburg University
The Netherlands
[en] Ethnic entrepreneurship ; Linguistic repertoire ; Language at the workplace
[en] Integrating migrants into national labour markets is arguably of perennial concern for governments across Europe. Self-employment or entrepreneurship has been identified as a possible route to active professional participation (Light & Gold 2001, Leicht et al. 2012). Studies of immigrant businesses identified multilingual language proficiency as an important aspect of their success (Light 2007). On the one hand, heritage language proficiency may provide the means to maintain advantageous social network ties to coethnic business partners (Aldrich & Waldinger 1990). On the other, sustainable growth is apparently directly related to certain levels of proficiency of the main language of the economy (Nekvapil 2009, Kloosterman 2010). While studies in applied linguistics have stressed the pragmatic impact of multilingualism in service encounters in entrepreneurial contexts (e.g. Leung 2009, Collier 2006, 2010, 2011), I believe that more work needs to be done in accounting for the value of multilingualism across the whole range of linguistic practices that self employment requires. The aim of this presentation is to take a first step into this direction by investigating the ways immigrant business owners navigate professional practices linguistically. For this presentation I intend to examine autobiographic narratives of five successful female business owners with Asian roots who have set up businesses in the borderlands of Germany, Luxemburg and France, so as to reconstruct the ways these individuals employ and develop their linguistic repertoires in connection to their workplace practices. The paper shall thus shed some empirical light on commonly held assumptions about heritage language use as an asset and majority language(s) use as a problem in such professional settings.

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