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Languaging in and across Communities: New Voices, New Identities

Studies in Honour of Giuseppina Cortese


Sandra Campagna, Elana Ochse, Virginia Pulcini and Martin Solly

The title of this volume intentionally echoes that of a landmark issue of Textus on «Languaging» in and across Human Groups, edited by Giuseppina Cortese and Dell Hymes in 2001, since the notion of ‘languaging’ seems to capture most effectively the essence and the continuity in the life and work of Giuseppina Cortese, to whom the book is dedicated. It brings together contributions by a number of distinguished scholars that shed new light on current developments in this dynamic area of discourse analysis, especially taking into account recent research and emerging insights on speech communities and communities of practice.
The sections in the volume are designed as main threads of a new investigation into ‘languaging’. The first, entitled Languaging Awareness, deals with recent findings in applied linguistics, exploring key topics in language acquisition, language learning and teaching and the changing role of the media. The second section, Languaging Identity, prioritizes the theme of the construction of identity in text and talk within a linguistic and languaging framework. The third section, Languaging Community, explores the notion of community, of the lifeworld and the textworld emanating from a variety of domains, closely inspecting contemporary events and showing, on a continuum with Cortese’s approach, how memory of the past gives depth of meaning to a discourse analysis that is geared to linguistic and textual awareness.
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Women Doing Things with Words to Women without Words


1.   Introduction

The following chapter is analytical and reflexive but essentially personal. It deals with a health visitor’s home visit to a young mother which I recorded in the early eighties as part of my PhD data; but the main topic concerns the emotional impact this recording has had on me since then, as well as a number of epistemological and ethical questions which its analysis raised. I was working on the ‘Foreigner Talk’ phenomenon and wanted to record examples of speech simplification in institutional settings (but not educational ones). After several lengthy and unsuccessful attempts at making recordings in settings where I had personally witnessed the use of Foreigner Talk, namely Maternity Hospitals, police Aliens Departments etc. both in France and in England, I contacted individuals involved in issues of staff training in the social services. Eventually, I obtained blanket permission from several health visitors whose professional life was at the time becoming increasingly problematic because they could not communicate with the – mainly Asian – mothers on their caseloads. The situation was dire: I discovered that a number of health visitors in that area had had severe bouts of depression because of their professional inability to do what they were expected to do and were on long term sick leave. The health visitor recorded in the transcribed visit did not have any English speaking mother on her case load and had to ‘borrow’ an English mother from another health visitor to organize a kind of ‘mock...

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