Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a pattern I’ve been noticing—but low-key ignoring—in my daily linguistic interactions with some Montrealers. That is, for some reason, my interactions would almost always start in French, but will never end in French. Instead, such interactions would typically switch into English within 5 seconds.
But I suppose it’s not just “for some reason”. Flores and Rosa (2015; Rosa & Flores, 2017) coined a phrase to describe what I’m talking about here—raciolinguistic ideologies. Raciolinguistic ideologies explain the co-construction of language and race, which help reveal how language users associate certain speech acts to specific racial categories. Looking through this lens, I argue that the reason for why my typical language encounters start in French but continue and end in English is due to the raciolinguistic assumptions that inhabit the contexts in which I use my languages with others.
To give you an example, here’s a poem I wrote, inspired from a recent real-life incident at a store in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal). I took some creative license to edit the conversations a bit to fit the poem and edit out miscellaneous or identifiable details, while still retaining the gist of what happened. I also added, in italics, the thoughts that were running through my mind during this incident, as well as those that ran through my mind as I was writing about this experience.
This week’s guest bloggers are Lucrécia Raquel Fuhrmann and Ana Beatriz Ruiz de Melo. Lucrécia is a Ph.D. candidate in Education in Canada. She holds a Master’s degree in education from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, and a Bachelor of Arts/Letras from the Universidade Luterana do Brasil. She has taught at elementary and high schools, and specialization courses in Brazil. In Canada, Lucrécia has been teaching English as an Additional Language at two elementary schools, which gathers all her studies interests and subjects: language and literacy, education management, and international relations and diplomacy. Ana is a student of English Languages and Literature at the Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL) since 2020. Ana holds a scholarship with the project “Ideological and Academic Literacies Juxtaposed”, for which she received Honorable Mention for Scientific Merit for her presentation of this work at the 2021’s Annual Meeting of Scientific Initiation of UEL. Since October 2022, Ana is an Undergraduate Visiting Researcher Student at the University of Regina, under the supervision of Professor Andrea Sterzuk.
“Há um lugar místico em mim / Algo assim bem escondido / Um planeta inexplorado, um horizonte perdido […] / Explorador [a] sem experiência / Marinheiro [a] de primeira viagem / Embarquei de peito aberto / Levando só a coragem”.
These verses are from a song by a Brazilian rock band called Egotrip, entitled “Viagem ao fundo do ego,” which means something similar to “trip to the bottom of the ego” in English. They say there is a hidden spot within oneself, like an unexplored planet, a lost horizon. They talk about the self as an inexperienced explorer who goes on that ego trip, bringing nothing but courage.
“…while always travelling seriously, he was always travelling light.” (Williams, 1971, p. 88)
The serious traveller who always travelled light was George Orwell; writing in 1971, socialist critic Raymond Williams unravels Orwell’s multifaceted history and reveals aspects of his life and work I had not known about, in under 100 informative pages. I took the book along with me to India in mid-December 2022 primarily because it was so tiny. I also was attempting to travel light. I hope I may say, to travel seriously as well.
A village in rural West Bengal, India, where as early as February the temperature goes up to 35 degrees Celsius or so every day, with no prospect of rain until April or May, is about as far from a Montreal winter as one can imagine. It’s where I have just spent four weeks working with several gifted and enthusiastic young women who teach at supplemental schools run by a local NGO, the Institute of Social Work (ISW). Like many NGOs across India and in the developing world, ISW works in the local language (here, Bengali) and draws mostly on local resources. My cousin Nupur Sarkar has been part of ISW since its inception in 1978; I am much indebted to her for having made it possible for me to spend time at ISW’s Birbhum-district schools. After a previous visit in 2019, I wrote about the experience here on the BILD blog, and have dreamed ever since then of coming back and staying awhile.
This week’s guest blogger is Ashley R. Moore, Assistant Professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at Boston University, Wheelock College of Education and Human Development. His work on queer/trans-affirming language education has been published in TESOL Quarterly, The Modern Language Journal, ELT Journal, and the Journal of Language, Identity & Education. He thanks Jennifer Altavilla-Giordano, Kaye Hare, Julia Spiegelman, and the students of his Critical Applied Linguistics class for feedback and ideas that improved this blog post.
Despite growing up in England, I’m not a fan of football. But as an activist researcher and teacher educator who is passionate about making language education more inclusive and affirming for queer and trans learners, the recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar got my attention. That’s because, as the event drew closer, the global conversation turned to LGBTQ+ rights. The crux of the issue? Despite FIFA’s assurances that the World Cup in Qatar would be “a celebration of unity and diversity,” Qatar remains one of the most hostile countries on the planet towards LGBTQ+ people.