chapter  10
16 Pages

Experiences and Expressions of Multilingualism: Visual Ethnography and Discourse Analysis in Research with Sámi Children


This chapter1 investigates multilingualism as a complex phenomenon which pervades di erent social, historical and cultural processes but is also manifested in the everyday practices and experiences of multilingual individuals. Consequently, multilingualism can be examined at a macro-sociological level, where political and ideological issues are at stake: research on how language policies are designed and implemented is one example of this (see e.g. Heller, 2007; Kelly-Holmes, Moriarty and Pietikäinen, 2009; May, 2005). But multilingualism can also be investigated at the level of an individual’s lifeworld, paying attention to their personal experiences of the language situation in question, and exploring how they see possibilities opened up by languages, the constraints that may exist and, fi nally, the choices that can be made (Burck, 2005; Pietikäinen et al., 2008; Pietikäinen, 2010). As an illustration of these interrelated processes, this chapter examines multilingualism in an indigenous language community focusing on the experiences and expressions of young Sámi children, and explores how visual ethnography and discourse analysis can be used to understand and represent the functions and values of languages and ways of using languages for them. To this end, the present chapter investigates how the youngest generation of Sámi speakers experience, express, and discuss the multilingualism present in their daily lives.