Linguistic ethnography

Studying English language, cultures and practices

Authored by: Lian Malai Madsen

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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The understanding of languages as bounded, enumerable codes closely tied to distinct national and ethnic cultures has been questioned from a range of perspectives for the past three or four decades. Alternative ways of seeing and studying language have been contributed by research affiliated with the strand that has become known as linguistic ethnography and combines ethnographic methodology (observations, interviews etc.) with micro-analysis of recorded interactions (employing tools from conversation analysis and linguistics). This chapter unfolds the theoretical and empirical directions suggested by the linguistic ethnographic approach through examples of situated use of forms of English from research conducted among youth in heterogeneous urban contexts in Denmark. Through this lens the chapter presents the foundation for the recent debates about the conceptualisation of language and discusses their relevance to the study of English. Thereby the chapter illustrates the potential of starting with the lived local realities of language users and linking these to larger-scale socio-cultural processes through an ethnographic perspective and a close investigation of contexts.

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