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Langues et migrations

Migrants & Language(s) - London 21-21 March 2016


Last Updated: 6 Feb 2016

Meeting Description:

The current migration crisis faces the UK and other countries with urgent issues within which language plays a significant role. These include for example: decisions about who gets refugee status, which depend partly on origin and may be determined on linguistic grounds; how to integrate migrant children in schools, and adults in employment, when they do not speak the host-country language well (or at all); how they are to communicate in hospitals, banks, with landlords and administrations. Less immediately obvious, but equally significant linguistic issues include:

- how politicians and the media construct discourses about migrants which affect how they are perceived
- the role of maintaining the migrants’ languages of origin in their integration process and sense of identity, and attrition of their mother tongues
- how the languages of origin impact on the host country, bringing in new linguistic skills but also potentially transforming the host country language: young people’s multicultural vernaculars are recognised by linguists as a significant source of language change

A public event and conference organized for March 21 and March 22 will bring together a range of experts on migration and linguistics and draw attention to the role played by language in this crisis. Although there are other research projects investigating migrants from a linguistic perspective they do not normally involve the participation of practitioners. The conference will address the particular responsibility of linguists to carry out and disseminate research which will enable policy-makers to take well-informed decisions affecting both the migrants’ futures and those of the host society.

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