Digital Linguistic Diversity in the Global South (Germany but Online)

EventsThe ordinariness of digital linguistic diversity in the Global South, guest lecture by Sender Dovchin, sponsored by Digital Language Variation in Context, University of Hamburg, Germany. Online, 12 May 2022.

Recent debates of linguistic diversity have problematised paradigms such as bi/multilingualism, and code-switching for reifying static language boundaries and for their inability to account for communicative practices constructed out of a diversity of linguistic repertoires. Instead, trans- perspectives have been introduced to capture the critical linguistic diversity, especially in the context of digital platforms. This emergent trans- tradition in reflects the difficulty, if not futility, of demarcating linguistic features according to specific languages, for the fluid movement between and across languages.

Yet, this recent tradition still tends to celebrate and thus exoticize the presumed digital linguistic diversity in and from the Global South, although it is indeed ‘quite normal’, ‘unremarkable’ ‘ordinary’, ‘basic’, ‘everyday’, and by no means a new phenomenon. In so doing, scholarship inadvertently constructs and exoticizes a linguistic Other whose digital linguistic diversity are expected to be made legible according to normative epistemologies of diversity.

This lecture is based on the premise that the analytic potential of the trans- tradition can be enhanced through a stronger focus on such practices as reflective of everyday, quotidian, basic, mundane, unremarkable, banal, and ordinary occurrences, rather than of peculiar, exotic, eccentric or unconventional ones. It is important to recognise that digital linguistic diversity in and from the Global South is neither to celebrate nor to deplore, but something to observe and examine with interest like anything else, as it is inevitable that peoples and cultures have always been mixing and mingling. I conclude that ‘linguistic ordinariness’ is rather ‘diverse’ – a necessary condition of ‘linguistic diversity’ is its ‘ordinariness’.

Dr Sender Dovchin is an Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow and Director of Research at the School of Education, Curtin University, Australia.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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