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Open AccessArticle

‘Language Is Your Dignity’: Migration, Linguistic Capital, and the Experience of Re/De-Valuation

Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ, UK
Languages 2019, 4(3), 64;
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 14 August 2019 / Accepted: 16 August 2019 / Published: 23 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Immigrant and Refugee Languages)
Using critical hermeneutic phenomenology, this study considers the lived realities of seven adult migrants with diverse migratory trajectories who came to London in order to set up a new life. Drawing on Bourdieu, it explicates their symbolic struggles for value fought out at the linguistic level and the way they live through experiences of re-valuation of their linguistic capital. Because of the fact that linguistic repertoires are not equal in terms of their value in transnational settings, this is often marked by devaluation, lack, and deficiency. The question amidst unequal linguistic realities is then how space for contestation can be secured. This paper stresses the importance of paying attention to the emotional, affective dimension of such experiences to account for how social transformation may be brought about. To this end, Skeggs’ gaze is employed, particularly the notion of ‘just talk’ as a means to turn negative affects that occur in the face of inequitable relations into action. The study argues that paying attention to this could be a form of metalinguistic talk in language classrooms to counteract experiences of inequality and devaluation. Collective awareness in turn can foster a sense of solidarity and enhance collective agency as mediated by discursive action and solidarity. View Full-Text
Keywords: migration; linguistic capital; experiences of devaluation; affect migration; linguistic capital; experiences of devaluation; affect
MDPI and ACS Style

Zschomler, S. ‘Language Is Your Dignity’: Migration, Linguistic Capital, and the Experience of Re/De-Valuation. Languages 2019, 4, 64.

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