J. Pujolar: (Re)considering the Concept of “New Speaker”

Font: Fòrum de Sociolingüística

Jyväskylä Discourse Studies Forum presents:

(Re)considering the Concept of “New Speaker”

by Professor Joan Pujolar, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Guest Lecture and Seminar

Tuesday, November 5th 2013, 10.00–16.00

Puutarhurintalo building, University of Jyväskylä Main Campus

The Jyväskylä Discourse Studies Forum is an initiative of Discourse Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Languages. The forum is intended as a space for presenting and discussing new topics, methodological innovations and original research in the multidisciplinary area of Discourse Studies. Our next forum will be hosted by Professor Joan Pujolar, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (http://www.uoc.edu/webs/jpujolar/EN/curriculum/index.html), a visiting scholar with thePeripheral Multilingualism project (SA).

 

The lecture will address the concepts of “new speaker” and “linguistic muda” which are being developed in order to expand our understanding of the ways in which multilinguals relate to languages and linguistic varieties. It brings into focus the challenges and opportunities facing social actors who adopt and use language varieties other than their native ones. We will further explore these concepts in the seminar byasking questions such as these: What is the actual agenda of research on new speakers? What are the consequences of creating a new linguistic category?  The lecture is open to the general public.  The seminar is designed for PhD and post doc researchers.  Attendance at the seminar requires pre-registration (kati.dlaske@jyu.fi).

 

You are warmly welcome.

 

Preliminary programme

 

Tuesday, 5th November, 2013 10-16. Puutarhurintalo building, main campus

 

10.00-11.30 Linguistic “mudes”: on becoming a new speaker

                        Guest lecture by Professor Joan Pujolar

                        Open invitation; no registration required

Lunch

 

13.00-16.00 “New speakers”: definitions, agendas, and consequences

                         Seminar led by Professor Joan Pujolar

                         Pre-registration required (by Oct. 9th, 2013, to kati.dlaske@jyu.fi)

 

Lecture Abstract

 

Linguistic “mudes”: on becoming a new speaker


The concept of “new speakers” has recently been coined and is being developed in order to expand our understanding of the ways in which multilinguals relate to languages and linguistic varieties. It brings into focus the challenges and opportunities facing social actors who adopt and use language varieties other than their native ones. In this paper, I will show one of the ways in which some colleagues and myself have sought to develop this perspective, i.e. through the concept of “linguistic muda”, which we define as changes in the use of the linguistic repertoire of individuals at particular biographical moments. To do so, I will begin with a brief overview of the “new speakers” topic and discuss its theoretical and political implications. After this, I will move on to show the results of recent research on how people’s repertoire change across the life cycle in the Catalan context. The notion on “linguistic muda” will be described and used to analyze these linguistic changes.

 

Examples of new speakers can include: a) People who learn minority languages outside the family context, typically through immersion schools, adult education or language activism; b) Immigrants who generally need to adopt new languages in their new places of residence; and c) Other multiple profiles of people who learn languages for professional, educational or leisure reasons. In the Catalan context, “mudes” or language changes often happen at secondary school, the university or the workplace. In the light of these findings, I shall reflect on the political underpinnings of the news speaker approach, which basically involves questioning the essentialist language ideologies we have inherited as linguists; but also raises questions about how language is implicated in new forms of inequality brought about by globalization.

 

Seminar Abstract

 

“New speakers”: definitions, agendas, and consequences

The concept of “new speaker” was born and has thrived through lively debates in which often academic and political circles echo each other. These debates have revolved around three main issues:

  1. How do you define it?

It is a concept that people can quickly understand and transfer to their own research contexts or sites. However, they also quickly encounter other categories of speakers or participants, or types of situations, that may be relevant to the issues explored but not quite fitting to the general definition.

  1. What is the actual agenda of research on new speakers?

The concept of new speaker originated in some European territorial minorities in connection with programs of language revitalization often imbued with an ethnonational ethos, and amongst researchers closely committed to these revitalization programs. Is it really a good idea to transfer the concept to contexts that are eminently different, such as immigration?

 

  1. What are the consequences of creating a new linguistic category?

When entering the world of political/linguistic activism or social work, the term may be used to construct new social categories and social divisions with uncertain consequences for those affected. Can new speakers discriminate against old speakers or the other way around? Can, say, policy makers use the idea to withdraw funding from the last rural strongholds of a language? Can the concept be used to exaggerate or minimize the demographic or political weight of a community? Etc…

In the seminar we shall take up the concept of new speakers by engaging these questions, pre-assigned readings and participants own research interests in order to probe the (a) potentials and limitations and (b) ethical and political implications of employing this concept.

Registration to the seminar by Oct. 9th, 2013 to kati.dlaske (arrova) jyu.fi

Participants in the seminar will be required to complete a pre-assignment based on the readings for the seminar.  The readings and pre-assignment will be sent to participants upon registration.

For more information:
– Kati Dlaske, Post-doctoral researcher, Discourse Studies (
kati.dlaske (arrova) jyu.fi)
– Sarah Compton, PhD candidate, Discourse Studies (
sarah.e.compton (arrova) jyu.fi

 

 

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