Just use it! Linguistic conversion and identities of resistance amongst Galician new speakers

Bernadette O'Rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years there has been a focus in language policy research on understanding how national policies are interpreted and negotiated by social actors on the ground. This paper looks at the interplay between government and grassroots initiatives to create Galician-speaking spaces in predominantly Spanish-speaking urban settings. While official language policies in Galicia since the 1980s have increased the potential for language use through bilingual educational policies, these policies have failed to convert the large pool of potential speakers amongst a younger generation of Galicians into active language users. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews with Galician neofalantes (new speakers) this paper looks at instances where such policies seem to have worked and where the linguistic capacity created through the education system has been converted into active language use. The article examines how such speakers rationalise their practice of linguistic conversion not as success stories of language policy but as reactions to and dissatisfaction with what is perceived as ‘top-down’ governmentality through a reflexive process in which existing power structures are brought into question. The article looks specifically as the ideologies underpinning their decisions to become active speakers and the role they play as language planners in contemporary Galicia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-418
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number5
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018


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