Researching Multilingually: Linguistic Incompetence Alison Phipps University of Glasgow
Knowing Multilingual ResearchingHow can I know what researchingmultilingually means if I ammonolingual?No point of comparisonNo story of growing access toother linguistic worldsNo experience of leaving one setof framings and using a differentsetNo experience of the feel ofcompetence
Researching multilingual researchListening to and gatheringbiographies / data of researchingmonolinguallyNarratives and novels (HelenSullivan)Compare research undertakenmultilingually with researchundertaken monolingually foraccuracy and results (use ofmultilingual questionnaires;interviewing with interpretation;participant observation
Autoethnography of Linguistic Incompetence1) Learning the Arts ofLinguistic Survival2) Asylum Languages3) Lifelong Learning inPalestine4) From languageedges (pain/joy – wordfailure)
Learning the Arts2 year of autoethnographic workin adult education touristlanguage classes for Italian andPortugueseLanguage holiday in LisbonBeginners language classes
Researching without the languageEthnographic notes:Difficulty and struggle to hear andmake meaningThe jouiscence of makingprogressResource to common language(German and English) for rest andreflection and writingNotes full of new words andphrases – mulitlingual researchnotes
Asylum LanguagesResponse to Call (Radio 4)Linguistics neededLanguages uselessLanguage greetings learned withdetaineesContact with Swahlii, Georgian,Arabic, Congolese, Somali;Language teaching as levellerResearch value in ignorance.Access.
Mother Tonguelen & Tigrinyaew scriptonalityew questions oflanguage and poweringuistic exhaustion andpain - autodidacticismaucity of resource andopportunity. (paymentfor lessons illegal;
Mothers IncompetenceAllowed space for processing andrecovery in English (traumavictims often process better in adifferent language – seeHolocaust survival – Grossmann)Required patience and vigilanceValue of object, story, each wordand scriptKeyman keyboardMaterials- phrase books; CD
PatternsRelationships formed throughother means (food, joint worship,coffee ceremonies, gifts)Listening in to patterns for handholds – food, greetings, God,place names, goodness andbeauty.
Ritual LearningHabituated practices (Coffee,food, greetings, prayer)(Mary Oliver)Sensory awareness heightened:incense, cloth, scarf, coffeebeans, skin and hair oil; spices,texture)Linguistic power remains withpowerlessTsada: expections of whiteness
ChichewaGreetingsAnimalsStatus of peopleSurprise - Mzungu
Lifelong Learning in PalestineArabic: script andspeechBordersWelcomesSecurityResearch interviewsNGO/academicEnglish
Suspicion or TrustBecause I am alinguist/ethnographer I quicklylearned:- greetings- food names- Prayer language (Inshaallah)Monolinguals: la,la,la: Gesture and someaggression/suspicion thattranslation maybe in correct
PalestineMaterial objectsScarvesChildren practising English andteaching usFlowers in a gardenReliance on translationGifts and appreciation.Movement of body in segregatedspaceEnforced time for observation
Pain/Joylaine Scarry: Pain islanguage destroyingrauma fragments anddisrupts patterns ofmemory.ain/Joy are producedfrom same patterns ofneurological processing.dvocacy as thecompensation forlinguistic incompetence(Amnesty International)
Words Fail MeResearchers are presumed to belinguistically ableFailure of words / writers block is aserious businessFailure to engage multilingually isseen largely as a necessaryinconvenience.Some dimensions of life may behighlighted (notably those traditionallynoticed by anthropologists)
Researching MultilinguallyLanguage acquisition – the formits takes, where it occurs, how itoccurs is an important dimensionto fieldwork and to researchWe are positioned through ourcompetence/incompetence andour stories of acquisition andmistake
Social Humility or Technological ControlAutodidactic, technologicalcourses mask incompetence, hideerror and failureSocial classes make space forrehearsal and allow speech to beembodied and embeddedHumility, performed andlanguaged, enables the buildingof relationships of trust in the fieldfor an ethics of access to benegotiated
The Value in IncompetenceTime to observePractice of researcherly patienceExperience of frustration andpowerlessness which enablesempathyNoticing of greetings, rituals, sensorydimensionsValuable stage, but not status quo.A glimpse into early ethnography andanthropology- a stage in enteringother worlds. (Evans Pritchard)
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