I speak small: unequal Englishes and transnational identities among Ghanaian migrants
Fecha de publicación2018-02-15
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This paper investigates language ideologies involving various nonstandard English-language practices among homeless Ghanaian migrants, and explores how these interplay with transnational identity management in Catalonia, a non-English-speaking bilingual society. Through a 6-month multi-site ethnography of three case-study informants which included recorded interviews and spontaneous interactions, I explore how migrants engage with various pluralisations of local and global English in reported encounters with other migrants and local residents, and I show that they share ambivalent positionings towards them. They generally present themselves as speaking 'small' or 'no' English, in acts of linguistic delegitimisation whereby they inhabit marginalised, de-skilled pan-African identities. However, on other occasions, they position themselves as 'better' English speakers than local populations who sanction 'outer-circle' English forms, in acts of self-legitimisation whereby they vindicate their 'native speakerhood' condition, constitutive of educated, cosmopolitan identities revolving around 'Ghanaianness'. I conclude that these sociolinguistic comportments speak of migrants' linguistic marginalisation. They uncover ways in which situated forms of identity categorisation linked to the censorship of socioeconomically-stratified English varieties shape, and are shaped by, hegemonic monolingual ideologies and societal normativities concerning 'English standardness' which dictate who count as legitimate transnational citizens in the Southern European societies of the twenty-first century.