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Cultivating linguistic flexibility in contexts of super-diversity

  • Marjorie Faulstich Orellana EMAIL logo and Andrea C. Rodriguez-Minkoff


In this article we embrace the call that Flores and Lewis (this issue) put forth for situating research on linguistic “super-diversity” within particular historical, cultural and social contexts, challenging monolingual norms, and acknowledging ideological forces that drive the “sociopolitical emergence” of particular language practices. Using ethnographic and audiotaped data, we explore emergent linguistic practices in an after-school program in Los Angeles that in important ways both mimics and amplifies the diverse migration flows that characterize super-diversity. Focusing on linguistic interactions in this site, we question the tendency in research on super-diversity to celebrate translingual practices without consideration of power relations, including locally specific ideologies of language as manifested in both explicit and implicit forms. We examine linguistic practices that emerged and took shape as new members entered our space, identifying translingual and transcultural competencies that participants displayed as they “read” the local context and made choices about what language forms to utilize. We suggest that these may be largely unrecognized skills that are cultivated in contexts of super-diversity. At the same time, we sound a warning note about the constricted nature of the forms of language that came to predominate in this space. Finally, we highlight practices that were designed to disrupt hegemonic notions of language, support linguistic flexibility, and capitalize on the possibilities that super-diverse linguistic and cultural contexts offer.


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Published Online: 2016-8-11
Published in Print: 2016-9-1

©2016 by De Gruyter Mouton

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