LINGUIST List 24.4169

Wed Oct 23 2013

Diss: English, Applied Linguistics, Philosophy of Language: Hülmbauer: 'The Real, the Virtual and the Plurilingual ...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <>

Date: 22-Oct-2013
From: Cornelia Hülmbauer <>
Subject: The Real, the Virtual and the Plurilingual - English as a lingua franca in a linguistically diversified Europe
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Institution: Universität Wien Program: English and American Studies Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2013

Author: Cornelia Hülmbauer

Dissertation Title: The Real, the Virtual and the Plurilingual - English as a lingua franca in a linguistically diversified Europe

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics                             Philosophy of Language
Subject Language(s): English (eng)
Dissertation Director:
Barbara Seidlhofer
Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation essentially entails eight scholarly articles dealing with
English as a lingua franca (ELF) in Europe as a linguistically diversified
setting. In these articles, ELF is portrayed as a decentred, globalised
mode of communication which takes place between speakers from different
primary lingua-cultures and which is affected by complexification as well
as individualisation processes. Covering different aspects of diversified
interaction via ELF, the articles all revolve around three main themes that
determine lingua franca practices: 'the real', 'the virtual' and 'the

Since ELF users typically engage in communication between lingua-cultures
and negotiate meaning with a wide range of language elements, the question
arises as to what constitutes their linguistic realities. 'Realness' in
this dissertation thus implies linguistic operationalisability and
authenticity in the face of intercultural communicative practices. It is
highlighted that linguistic normality in ELF does not necessarily have to
do with norm-adherence, but that it can be quite the opposite.

Detached from their first language environments, lingua franca users are
then shown to exhibit a tendency towards linguistic flexibility. Next to
encoded items, they draw on more general linguistic possibilities beneath
the surface of English – i.e., what is referred to in this dissertation as
'virtuality'. It is argued therefore that ELF is in a continuous state of
emergence rather than bound to a set of features.

While the use of virtual resources can be considered a transgression of
intra-linguistic boundaries, ELF communication also goes beyond the assumed
borderlines between languages. Subsumed under the theme of
'plurilinguality', the dissertation pays tribute to the communicative
potential of non-English elements in ELF and the integrative practices
exhibited by lingua franca users. These practices are argued to reveal the
artificiality of linguistic boundaries in globalised communication.

Eventually, ELF calls into question the notion of the language object as
tied to nation state, lingua-culture and speaker community. In a last step
thus, this dissertation proposes an alternative conceptualisation of
language in the light of current lingua franca communication. It argues for
a holistic view of plurilingual practices as integrative 'languaging'
without reference to strictly demarcated linguistic units and subsequently
for a dynamic approach towards communicative competence as something that
is situationally performed.

Page Updated: 23-Oct-2013