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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Volume 35, Issue 4


Discussion: Imagining the languaged worker’s language

Bonnie Urciuoli
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  • Anthropology Department, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, New York 13323, USA
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Published Online: 2015-07-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2015-0016


What people perceive as “a language” – a named entity – is abstracted from practices and notions about those practices. People take for granted that language is somehow a “thing,” an objectively distinct and bounded entity. How languages come to be thus imagined indexes the conditions under which they are imagined. The articles in this issue illustrate various relations of language-imagining to the ongoing production of neoliberal subjectivity under conditions inflected by the pride-profit polarities, especially profit (Duchêne and Heller 2012). The themes that link these articles show the relation of the language under discussion to its languaged workers, how the language indexes the conditions of its deployment, and how the language is imagined. Entrepreneurialized language is fundamentally promotional, whether on a loose entrepreneur-network basis or following scripted policy or as a manifestation of cultural property. Thus imagined, language and language difference are subject to the same metasemiotic regime as are corporate-friendly interpretations of the national, ethnic, and racial differences represented by language difference. In other words, all forms of difference are “supposed” to be understood in terms of desirable contemporary business-friendly outcomes.

Keywords: language; labor; neoliberalism; governmentality


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-07-08

Published in Print: 2016-07-01

Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 469–481, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2015-0016.

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