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Informalization and Hybridization of Speech Practices

Polylingual Meaning-Making across Domains, Genres, and Media


Edited By Amei Koll-Stobbe

Speech practices as discursive practices for meaning-making across domains, genres, and social groups is an under-researched, highly complex field of sociolinguistics. This field has gained momentum after innovative studies of adolescents and young adults with mixed ethnic and language backgrounds revealed that they «cross» language and dialectal or vernacular borders to construct their own hybrid discursive identities. The focus in this volume is on the diversity of emerging hybridizing speech practices through contact with English, predominantly in Europe. Contributions to this collected volume originate from the DFG funded conference on language contact in times of globalization (LCTG4) and from members of the editor’s funded research group «Discursive Multilingualism».

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Informal expressive mode across genres, or non-linear processing skill? Discursive hybrids and meaning-making with English as a global resource


Abstract: Contemporary social identities are hybrid and complex, and mobile social media play a crucial role in their construction. Speech practices mediate identities as discursive practices for meaning making. Across media diversity, domains of language use, and oral-to-written genres with their respective discourse modes document an informalization of sociocultural rites and speech practices (Mair 2006: 181 ff.) that reflects areal and social mobility, ongoing urbanization, and intra-cultural as well as inter-cultural contacts and conflicts (Fairclough 1992). Hybridization as a further consequence does have an impact on interactive discursive practices in a globalizing world that is multilingual, with varying access to repertoires of English. I argue that multilingual hybrids can function as expressive repertoires for social bonding and identity construction (cf. 1.), but that they can also reflect a bilingual cognitive skill to use languages as semantic resources for problem-solving, and an awareness of a complementary ludic discursive mode (cf. 2.). Hybridization – a programmatic concept used across the natural sciences and the humanities (cf. 3.) – might be a diverging starting point for meaning-making (cf. 4) in semiotically and polylingually re-configurated communication environments of urban and virtual spaces.

Keywords: hybridization, social identities, social mobility, urbanization

1 Discursive hybrids I: Polylingual resources as expressive discursive skill

Since the 1990s economic globalization and the digitalization of interactive communication have altered the face of social, cultural and linguistic diversity. As economic nodes urban spaces develop a centrifugal point for the collection of resources: cities as material and...

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