6. Multilingual interaction – questions of participation and belonging

intercultural encounters; language ideologies; learning ‘in the wild’; linguistic asymmetries; multimodal conversation analysis

Maria Frick, University of Oulu
Niina Lilja, Tampere University
Ad Backus, Tilburg University

While the epistemic, deontic and linguistic positions of participants in human interaction are never completely equal, multilingual interactions may involve linguistic or cultural asymmetries that present special challenges for intersubjectivity. These asymmetries are made visible through discourse analytical methods, paying attention to how speakers construct and reflect beliefs and ideologies about language, interaction, and cultures. At the microlevel, conversation analysts examine video-recorded real-life interactions to find out, for instance, how participants orient to language skills in one another or to troubles in understanding, and the means they use to build intersubjectivity.
This thematic section brings together studies of interviews that reveal the ideologies and concurrent ways of speaking that influence social involvement by multilinguals and studies of video recorded interactional situations that show how the use of different languages (multilingualism) by participants intertwines with gestures, touch, gaze, and other bodily means (multimodality). By bringing together discourse and conversation analytic frameworks and multimodal and usage-based linguistic analysis, both how people interact in real life situations and what their thoughts and underlying ideologies are regarding those interactions will be examined. Among other questions, the following will be addressed:
  1. How do people who live in linguistically diverse settings talk about linguistic asymmetries?
  2. How are linguistic asymmetries and language-related troubles in understanding oriented to in interaction?
  3. What is the role of different bodily means in maintaining intersubjectivity in everyday multicultural encounters?
  4. How are linguistic and bodily elements co-organized as grammatical patterns or constructions?
The thematic section includes studies from two research projects: Co-designing social interactions in everyday life (Tampere University, 2017–2020) and Linguistic and bodily involvement in multicultural interactions (University of Oulu, 2019–23), funded by the Emil Aaltonen foundation and the Academy of Finland respectively. The short presentations are followed by a general discussion.

  1. Seeking mutual understanding. Perceptions and experiences on language skills and involvement, Liisa-Maria Lehto and Kaarina Hippi
  2. Adult literacy learners conducting in- and out-of-classroom interactions: The use of situated objects in requests, Laura Eilola
  3. Language, body, and material space: Use of embodied resources in linguistically asymmetrical interactions, Ivana Leinonen and Liisa-Maria Lehto
  4. Is there modality neutrality in interaction? Exploring the case of copula constructions, Maria Frick, Ivana Leinonen, Niina Lilja and Elina Palola
  5. Linguistic repertoire and health literacy: small stories about health interactions, Ingvild Badhwar Valen-Sendstad