Migrants' alternative multi-lingua franca spaces as emergent re-producers of exclusionary monolingual nation-state regimes
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From a critical sociolinguistic perspective, this article investigates the written linguistic practices of 20 labor migrants from heterogeneous backgrounds who organized their life trajectories in an 'ethnic' call shop in a marginal neighborhood near Barcelona. This was a late capitalist institution informally providing the undocumented with survival resources off the radar from governmental authorities. By drawing on interviews and visual materials gathered over a two-year fieldwork project, I report on the amalgamations of allochthonous and autochthonous codes which function as the multi-lingua franca of these alternative shelters, which have now colonized the globalized urban landscape. I argue that these translinguistic practices speak of the ethnolinguistic identities with which migrants try to secure subsistence. I show, though, that transnational populations simultaneously map their in-group codes upon a unified floor where the use of only global Spanish is fostered. Users sanction their linguistic hybridity and self-correct into hegemonic standard norms which index 'integration' and fully-fledged citizenship statuses, delegitimizing their linguistic capitals. I conclude that the migrants' grassroots mobilization of both linguistic resistance and regimentation within a single discursive space where exclusionary sociolinguistic orders could be contested uniquely unveils the ways in which they challenge, but paradoxically re-produce, the monolingual nation-state regimes of their host society.