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“I just sit, drink and go back to work.” Topographies of language practice at work

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kristina Humonen



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This paper explores the in situ negotiation of in/exclusion in and through language in a multilingual professional setting, paying special attention to the relationship between language and space. We argue that multilingual practices and material space are co-constitutive; individuals enact group membership and professional roles spatiolinguistically and re/produce in/visible social and material boundaries. Despite the well-established literature on in/exclusion, the ways in which it is negotiated in asymmetrical, emplaced, workplace encounters is still underexplored. We introduce topographies of practice as a framework to show how professional asymmetries are enacted in and through language choice and language use in the multilingual workplace. We take an Interactional Sociolinguistic approach and report on the analysis of 23 h of interactional data and 42 h of ethnographic observations from a professional, multilingual kitchen in Finland. We show patterns that are un/marked in the data and constitute the norms in this particular workplace. We argue that topographies of practice are topographies of in/exclusion enacted in and through situated encounters; we pay special attention to the role of employees who are legitimised to cross visible and invisible boundaries and we close the paper with recommendations for future research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Angouri J, Humonen K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Year: 2023

Volume: 42

Issue: 1

Pages: 55-82

Online publication date: 09/06/2022

Acceptance date: 29/05/2022

Date deposited: 04/08/2022

ISSN (print): 0167-8507

ISSN (electronic): 1613-3684

Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton


DOI: 10.1515/multi-2021-0156


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