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Investigating the language-culture nexus in refugee legal advice meetings

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Judith ReynoldsORCiD


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© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.This paper explores linguistic and cultural complexity within immigration legal advice communication. Drawing from a linguistic ethnographic study, ethnographic and interactional data from two linked advice meetings about UK refugee family reunion processes are subject to deductive analysis using Risager's model of the language-culture nexus, within which the intersection of language(s) and culture(s) in a communicative event is conceptualised as a nexus of linguistic, languacultural, discursive, and other (non-linguistic) cultural resources and practices. The paper operationalises this intercultural communication theory in a new and exploratory way to investigate how cultural complexity is manifest, and interactionally managed, at different levels of meaning. The substantive analysis shows how a range of divergent resources, brought in by the different participants, are drawn upon and externalised as communicative practices in both legal advice meetings. Understanding is negotiated interculturally at different levels of meaning - the linguistic, the languacultural, and the discursive - in contrasting ways in each meeting. Methodologically, the paper argues that a strength of Risager's framework is that it supports a methodical and structured analysis of communicative events characterised by linguistic and cultural complexity, which can be linked to other discourse analytical approaches. The model's complexity, and its foregrounding of verbal over other semiotic modes, are highlighted as challenges for the analyst.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Reynolds J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Multilingua

Year: 2020

Volume: 39

Issue: 4

Pages: 395-429

Print publication date: 26/07/2020

Online publication date: 11/01/2020

Acceptance date: 02/04/2019

ISSN (print): 0167-8507

ISSN (electronic): 1613-3684

Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH


DOI: 10.1515/multi-2019-0048


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