Language socialisation in day-care centres –  Toddlers between multilingualism and monolingual language ideologies

Thematic Section: The development of social meaning in heterogeneous speech communities

social meaning, contact-induced variation and change, developmental sociolinguistics, language policy, language ideology

Marie Rickert, Maastricht University/WWU Münster

Day-care centres in the Dutch-German border region are multilingual by background, with toddlers coming there as speakers of various home languages such as the two respective national languages, minority languages and their local dialects. However, by interactional, ideology-driven practice, these day-cares often turn into dominantly monolingual or (hierarchically structured) bi-dialectical places (cf. Cornips in press for Limburg (NL); for the similar case of Denmark cf. Karrebæk 2013). Through linguistic anthropological fieldwork, this study aims to uncover this process through shedding light on the discursive production of linguistic hierarchies by speakers in day-cares, which is – at different times, in different contexts and in dynamic ways – countered or not by toddlers’ agentive use of their own diverse linguistic resources.
Therefore, the central question that my contribution adds to the thematic section is: How is (non-)value attributed to linguistic varieties in context-sensitive, interactional practices of language socialisation; and how is this in turn reflected in toddlers’ speaking behaviour, depicting their acquisition of socially meaningful linguistic variation in the context of day-cares?
Thereby, the focus is on teachers’ and peers’ modes of granting discursive space to certain language varieties, while minimizing space for others as processes of repertoire negotiation. Modes of hierarchising language varieties like a performative deployment of a division into ‘academic language’ and ‘language of play’ (cf. Cornips in press), will be laid out. Secondly, the linguistic outcomes of such processes will be analysed, e.g. considering the discursive function of silence. This will be done from the perspective that verbal silence, which some toddlers perform at times (Blum- Kulka, Gorbatt 2013), may stand for an exclusion of certain language varieties that these children believe to be out of context in day-cares.