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Requests for Help in a Multilingual Professional Environment Testimonies and Actantial Models

Eve Lejot
Published Online: 2017-12-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2017-0026


Professional multilingual environments using English as a lingua franca are prone to imbalances in communication, linguistic insecurity and rising tension. Non-native English speakers develop avoidance strategies in order to lessen their apprehension. To overcome these imbalances, this research aims to understand the relationships formed around languages focusing on the dynamics of integration and the requests for help. Guided by the actantial models of Greimas (1966), this qualitative study employs semiolinguistics and discourse analysis, including 19 narrative interviews with employees of Airbus and UNESCO in Hamburg, Germany in 2013. This methodology draws on actors connected through relationships of power and/or collaboration. The actantial models applied seek linguistic input through designational paradigms, shifters and modal occurrences. The actantial models illustrate how a good language competence provides a better understanding of one’s direct as well as passive environment. The learning process is shown to be a conduit to integration. The actantial model and discourse analysis shed light on the complex situation of multilingual communication settings by highlighting the influence of individuals’ linguistic skills. As a matter of fact, depending on the role of each individual in a given situation, lending a helping hand sometimes equates to upsetting the balance.

Keywords: Discourse; Workplace; Multilingualism; Actantial model


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About the article

Received: 2017-04-12

Accepted: 2017-10-06

Published Online: 2017-12-07

Published in Print: 2017-12-20

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 516–539, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2017-0026.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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