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Unmooring language for social justice: young people talking about language in place in Manchester, UK

Badwan, Khawla (2020) Unmooring language for social justice: young people talking about language in place in Manchester, UK. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies: an international journal. ISSN 1542-7587

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Abstract

Unmooring language is a proposal for a language-based social justice concept that aims to go beyond national and local epistemologies of language in place. This article contributes to current discussions in critical sociolinguistics about how to conceptualise language bearing in mind the primacy of mobility and fluidity. Drawing on folk linguistics, local metalinguistic talk, and citizen sociolinguistics; this study explores how young people (aged 18-25 years) talk about the relationship between language and place in the urban city of Manchester, UK. Through 57 online questionnaires and eight semi-structured interviews, the study finds that participants’ descriptions of their linguistic repertoires foreground the primacy of motion and invite the fluidity of unmooring. It also indicates that while young people tend to have positive attitudes towards linguistic diversity in the city, some reported exposure to language-based discrimination and others expressed different views on linguistic diversity. The paper concludes with emphasising the importance of language-based advocacy and activism to ensure that linguistic diversity has a right to the city, a step to combat linguistic hostility and ethnolinguistic nationalism.

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