Living Language - Linguistic boundary work in marketing discourse

Living Language - Linguistic boundary work in marketing discourse

Living Language - Linguistic boundary work in marketing discourse

Professor Helen Kelly-Holmes, Chair of Applied Languages
School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics Research Seminar

Wednesday 9 March
2.15pm
Venue: A1053

In this paper, I explore seemingly contradictory language ideological positions in relation to linguistic borders in marketing discourses and practices. Multilingualism is an increasingly common trope of companies aspiring to a global presence both as mode of management and as means of distinction (Heller and Duchêne 2012). In the latter, we see increasingly fluid concepts of language boundaries in the form of creative, hybrid mixing and multimodal practices involving language for the purpose of differentiating products from close competitors and creating value for brands. Such practices – an example being the Swype app’s Living Language feature - often challenge the boundaries between different languages and also between language and other modes of communication. On the other hand, in terms of management and categorisation of consumers, we find an enduring concern with ‘homogeneity and territorial anchoring’ (Heller 2008: 207) with a focus on boundary work (Barth (1969) in Heller (2008)). This new proliferation of multilingualism or ‘hyperlingualism’ frequently takes place alongside a minimising of exposure to ‘real’ multilingualism. In this paper, I explore processes of distinction and of management in commercial discourses in an attempt to examine how they reinforce and/or challenge prevailing language ideologies, which attempt ‘the clean separation of languages and their speakers into discrete pairings’ (Heller 2008: 510-511).
Heller, M. (2008) ‘Language and the nation-state: Challenges to sociolinguistic theory and practice’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 12: 504-524.
Heller, M., & Duchêne, A. (2012) ‘Pride and profit: Changing discourses of language, capital and nation-state’. In: Duchêne, A & Heller, M. (Eds.) Language in Late Capitalism: Pride and Profit. Routledge, pp. 1-21.
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