This course offers an introduction to the phenomenon of contemporary urban multilingualism from a pragmatic and sociolinguistic perspective. By adopting a social and critical approach to language use by speakers as situated practice and covering important topics of political, educational, and economic nature, the students are familiarized with the historical conceptualization of multilingualism in modernist nation-state policies and with the ways in which hybrid identities, linguistic repertoires, everyday linguistic practice, and society at large continue to undercut and challenge these. In doing so, the course is research-based and intends to introduce students both to theoretical notions and empirical studies.
The following main topics form the core of the course and will be discussed in both a theoretical lecture and empirically driven, more interactive class format in which we discuss existing studies and research insights:
(1) Myths of monolingualism and Herderian language policies
(2) Geographies of urban multilingualism in linguistic landscapes
(3) Markets for urban multilingualism: social inequality and commodification
(4) Hybridity and language mixing in urban vernaculars
(5) Institutional responses to multilingualism
For each of the main topics, academic reading is included in the course reader. During the semester, students present one academic article from the course reader in class and design their own (small) empirical research project related to one of the main topics discussed in the class. The course planning allows for in-class consultation and feedback on the progression of the research project throughout the semester. Students present their research project in a five-minute pitch during the final lecture to their peers.
Course evaluation is based on (1) the in-class presentation of an academic article and (2) the final research paper about the research project.