chapter  29
Language and migration
ByMike Baynham
Pages 16

The multilingual landscapes of the twenty-first century are a product of continuing transnational and translocal mobility and exchange of people, information and products across physical and virtual boundaries. Knowledge of local and global/international languages is necessary in order to gain access to a society of information, for the exchange of material goods and to be able to communicate with the people in our immediate social space and beyond (Castells 2000). Languages themselves migrate or are re-made through migration. Within this context of linguistic hyper-or super-diversity (Vertovec 2006), language plays a key role in the constitution of public and private institutions, but is also crucial for the actors who come into contact with these institutions (Heller 2003) wishing thereby to gain access to material and symbolic resources. In the context of these multilingual landscapes of mobility and exchange, both transnational

and translocal, public discourses, particularly in the media, increasingly view migration through the lenses of nationalist and racist rhetoric (Reisigl and Wodak 2001), creating atmospheres of social panic in which immigrants and refugees are seen as threatening the stable borders of national identities. Applied linguistic research aims to increase our understanding of the linguistic dimensions of migration and the subtle ways that language ideologies and practices contribute to social processes of ‘othering’ and exclusion in crucial institutional contexts. This applied linguistic research investigates such processes ‘from the inside and from the perspective of language’, while remaining attuned to large-scale social processes (political, policy-oriented and institutional), providing analyses capable of offering an ‘emic’ perspective and of illustrating the subjective construction of these movements of human beings, rather than their objectivist ‘othering’ in nationalist or racist mainstream discourses.