Carving out breathing spaces for Galician: New speakers’ investment in monolingual practices

Bernadette O'Rourke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter explores why and with which effect ‘new speakers’ invest in delineated minority languages rather than in poly- or translingualism. ‘New speakers’ refer here to individuals who have had limited home or community exposure to a minority language but acquired it through immersion or bilingual educational programmes, revitalisation projects or as adult language learners. Based on the case of Galician, a minoritised language in north-western Spain and drawing on ethnographic fieldwork carried out between 2012 and 2016, the chapter looks at the linguistic practices and ideologies of Galician new speakers in their attempt to carve out ‘safe spaces’ in Spanish-dominant contexts. While contemporary social and geographical mobility has prompted a shift away from a view of language as bounded and unitary and towards one which embraces hybridity, multiplicity and fluidity, Galician new speakers do not necessarily align themselves to this view. Although new speaker research has prompted a rethinking of existing models of language revitalisation, in this chapter I will argue that it also needs critical reflection so as to take into account that some new speakers do not always see multilingual practices as desirable and, in some instances even perceive them as dangerous.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Perspectives on Linguistic Fixity and Fluidity
Subtitle of host publicationLanguagised Lives
EditorsJürgen Jaspers, Lian Malai Madsen
ISBN (Electronic)9780429469312
ISBN (Print)9781138602977
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018


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