Authored by: Adrian Blackledge , Angela Creese

The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Ethnography

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138938168
eBook ISBN: 9781315675824
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reflects on the value of the Bakhtinian concept of heteroglossia in linguistic ethnographic research in contemporary societies. It provides a review of approaches to conceptualising linguistic diversity in sociolinguistic studies of multilingual settings, addressing the notions of translanguaging, heteroglossia and superdiversity and showing how traditional ideas of languages as bounded entities are being challenged by ethnographic work. The term heteroglossia is explained, locating it in relation to Bakhtin’s fundamentally dialogical notion of voice and showing how voices index different subject positions in society. The ideas discussed are illustrated with examples taken from a multi-sited ethnography of language practices in cities in the UK characterised by language diversity. The chapter concludes by outlining potential future directions of research drawing on this concept, including attending to heteroglossia in digital and multimodal communication.

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