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LINGUIST List 25.805

Tue Feb 18 2014

Review: Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics: Singleton (et al., eds.) (2013)

Editor for this issue: Monica Macaulay <monicalinguistlist.org>

Date: 01-Aug-2013
From: Anna Majek <mayekatcd.ie>
Subject: Current Multilingualism: A New Linguistic Dispensation
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/24/24-1384.html

EDITOR: David M. Singleton
EDITOR: Joshua A Fishman
EDITOR: Larissa Aronin
EDITOR: Muiris Ó Laoire
TITLE: Current Multilingualism
SUBTITLE: A New Linguistic Dispensation
SERIES TITLE: Contributions to the Sociology of Language [CSL] 102
PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Anna Ewa Majek, Trinity College Dublin


The book under review consists of 15 papers covering trends and issues of
concern with respect to current multilingualism. The volume is divided into
three parts: ‘Language teaching and language learning’, ‘Social aspects of
current multilingualism’ and ‘Language policy’.

The introduction by Larissa Aronin, Joshua Fishman, David Singleton, and
Muiris Ó Laoire ,‘Current multilingualism: A new linguistic dispensation’
explains the organization and the purpose of the book.

Part one consists of four chapters, reporting on language education, including
multilingual acquisition in its theoretical aspects.

The first paper is Vivian Cook’s ‘Global English: Central or Atypical Form of
SLA?’ which discusses the relevance of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) to
second language acquisition (SLA) research. The comparison of ELF and SLA is
discussed in terms of the existence of a second language, the target user and
the relationship to teaching. It concludes that ELF is not a typical form of
second language acquisition.

The next paper ‘Faraway, so close: Trilingualism in the Basque Autonomous
Community and Malta from a socio-educational perspective’ by Sandro Caruana
and David Lasagabaster, presents the linguistic situation for both languages
before describing and comparing the Basque and the Maltese educational
systems. The next section focuses on language competence and attitudes among
future teachers in Malta and the BAC. The authors conclude by noting many
similarities between the two communities; for example, in attitudes towards

John Harris and Jim Cummins write on ‘Issues in all-Irish education:
Strengthening the case for comparative immersion’, which investigates Irish
immersion programs in the Irish educational system. This is compared to
immersion programs in Canada and the use of English in Irish education. The
paper finishes by highlighting differences between Canadian and Irish
immersion and further reflections on Irish immersion. The conclusion of the
paper consists of a set of questions which further research in this area might

The fourth chapter, ‘Informal bilingual acquisition: Dynamic spaces for
language education’ by Ofelia García, introduces the concept of transglossia
and proposes taking into consideration a comprehensive policy in language
education. The aim of the paper is achieved by presenting a review of
literature on education and informal bilingual acquisition, as well as
discussion of diglossia and transglossia. The paper finishes by highlighting
the importance of informal bilingual acquisition and transglossia.

Part two of the book, ‘Social aspects of current multilingualism’, discusses
multilingualism in relation to the fields of sociolinguistics and sociology of

The first chapter, ‘Minority language use in Ireland: The time dimension’, by
David Singleton, Larissa Aronin and Lorna Carson focuses on the language
practices of minority language users in Ireland. The paper consists of two
parts. The first part provides an overview of the theoretical treatment of
time as a parameter in the sociology of language and multilingualism studies.
The second part of the chapter offers a close look at a pilot study based on
responses of recent immigrants to Ireland, the methodology of this
investigation, and conclusions that are derived from this analysis.

The next paper is by Guus Extra, titled ‘Mapping increasing linguistic
diversity in multicultural Europe and abroad’. The author uses
demolinguistics, also known as language demography, and a geolinguistics
approach to mapping diversity in non-European English-dominant countries and
to mapping diversity in European Union countries.

The third chapter in this part is ‘Multilingual attitudes and attitudes to
multilingualism in Croatia’ by Jelena Mihaljević Djigunović. The author looks
into the attitudes of Croatian learners and users towards foreign languages
and foreign language learning. She also discuses the importance of these
matters in their social lives, for example tolerance of otherness or the role
of L1 in their identity. The second aim of the study is to compare
multilinguals’ to bilinguals’ attitudes. The paper starts with a presentation
of the linguistic situation in Croatia, which is followed by a description of
a case study and its results. The case study was carried out on Croatian
learners who were users of two or more languages. The conclusions of the paper
reveal that Croatian learners and users of foreign languages have a positive
attitude to foreign language learning. Multilinguals and bilinguals displayed
a range of differences which according to the author suggest that they should
be treated as two separate types of language users.

Norbert Dittmar and Paul Steckbauer are the authors of ‘Emerging and
conflicting forces of polyphony in the Berlin speech community after the fall
of the wall: On the social identity of adolescents’. The authors provide
sociocultural insight into the mode of multicultural communication in Berlin
after 1990. The purpose of the paper is achieved by taking a closer look at
the speech of Turkish migrants and the discourse of Turkish and German

The next paper, by Moha Ennaji, is ‘Multilingualism in Morocco and the
linguistic features of the Casablanca variety’. The author analyses
multilingualism in Morocco with special reference to phonology and morphology
in the Casablanca variety. The examination of Casablanca speech is based on
recordings and interviews with different respondents.

The last chapter in this section is written by Camilla Bardel, Ylva Falk and
Christina Lindqvist, ‘Multilingualism in Sweden’. The paper provides a picture
of the multilingual situation in Sweden and presents an outline of studies
carried out at research centers in Stockholm, Göteborg and Lund. One of the
studies, for example, investigated the vocabulary of six immigrants (five
Greeks and one Pole) who moved to Sweden for work and had little or no contact
with Swedes. The study showed that their Swedish did not show any development
during a six month period and that the subjects first acquired and used words
that are frequent in the target language, for example aha (‘aha’), skura (‘to

The third section of the book consists of five chapters dedicated to language

The first chapter in this part of the book is by Joshua A. Fishman, ‘Language
planning for a decimated and often forgotten non-territorial tongue’. The
paper is an appeal to support, revitalize and promote Yiddish. It discusses
the implementation and coordination of language planning decisions relating to
Yiddish as well as an overview of other languages that are also in dire
circumstances. Fishman describes three voluntary agencies, ‘Yugntruf’ (a
coordinating body for Yiddish-centered activities for ‘young folks of all
ages’), the ‘Bikher-Tsentrale’ (a center for the collection, digitalization
and sale of Yiddish books, whose purpose also substantially enters into the
status planning sphere) and, ‘Yiddish at College and University’, which aims
at implementing Yiddish in the educational system. Fishman ends the paper by
exploring his hopes for promoting Yiddish.

Tjeerd de Graaf continues the topic of endangered languages in his paper
‘Endangered languages and endangered archives in the Russian Federation’. de
Graaf provides an exhaustive description of the projects involved in the
Endangered Archives in the Russian Federation and describes data from
fieldwork, for example the historical sound recordings of Khanty by Wolfgang
Steinitz. The samples of data are taken from some parts of Northern Russia,
Siberia, the Russian Far East and the border areas of Russia and Japan.

The third chapter is ‘Linguistic quandary in multilingual Malaysia:
Socio-political issues, language policy, educational changes’ by Renate
Kärchner-Ober. The paper addresses issues in the relationship between
multilingualism, national language policy and educational reform processes in
Malaysia. The author considers the sociological and socioeconomic facts that
affect the use and learning of language in Malaysia.

The next paper, by Vasiliki Georgiou, is on ‘Managing language diversity in
the Irish health services’. It explores the way in which the Irish Health
organization deals with the communication challenges caused by the increasing
multilingual and multicultural population in Ireland. Georgiou looks at
communication problems between patients and medical personnel, and how these
challenges are responded to. The paper also describes the diversity of the
linguistic groups involved, and compares their language issues with the ones
of Irish speakers in the Irish health services.

The last chapter, ‘Slipping between policy and management: (De)centralised
responses to linguistic diversity in Ethiopia and South Africa’ by Kathleen
Heugh, provides a comprehensive picture of multilingualism and language
policies, particularly in education in South Africa and Ethiopia. The chapter
concludes with observations about the language policies and choices in
managing language in both countries.


The book is addressed to a variety of readers including linguists, language
teachers, sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists, as well as
to anyone interested in education and language acquisition.

A great attribute of the book is that the contributors deal with multilingual
settings in cities (Berlin, Dublin, Casablanca), countries (Canada, Croatia,
Ireland, Germany, Morocco, Malta, Spain, Sweden), continents (Europe, America,
Africa), smaller communities of language users (e.g. Gaeltacht Irish speakers,
Rinkeby in Stockholm), as well as the very large community of users and
learners of English.

Another positive aspect is the wide range of topics. Some papers provide
examples of specific studies, e.g. the discussion of speech in Berlin. Others
offer a broad presentation of the linguistic situation in a particular nation,
as for example the paper devoted to multilingualism in Morocco, where the
Casablanca variety is clearly presented and supported by numerous examples
from phonology and morphology.

In general, the book is a very helpful and interesting source of information
on the trends that underlie and foster multilingualism. It presents a wide
range of different areas of expertise in an explicit and well organized


Anna Ewa Majek is a PhD research student at Trinity College Dublin. Her
primary research interests include corpus linguistics, language variation and
change and sociolinguistics.
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