DTU CALIDIE Lectures in Multilingualism and Learning

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The objective of this paper is to discuss citizen sociolinguistics as science, a methodology to explore multilingualism, and the extent to which it represents a feasible approach in sociolinguistics. Citizen science (CS) involves citizens in doing research, and has at least a 200 years’ tradition in natural sciences, dating back to Linné’s engagement of lay people in his work on animal and plant typology in the mid-18th century.

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Citizen sociolinguistics involves nonprofessionals in doing sociolinguistic research, collecting and registering data, analyzing and interpreting them. Based on a Norwegian CS-project where all pupils in the Norwegian school were invited to be language researchers, this paper presents some of the data the citizens collected. Moreover, it discusses the advantages and challenges of citizen sociolinguistics, and finally it raises
questions whether CS has the potential to answer some of the recent calls for democratization of research and contribute to solving some of the grand societal challenges of today.
Bente Ailin Svendsen, PhD, is Professor of Second Language Acquisition and Scandinavian Linguistics at the University of Oslo. She initiated and co-developed the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan (MultiLing), a Center of Excellence funded by the Research Council of Norway, where she was the Deputy Director 2013-2015 and the Leader of Theme 2 Multilingual Practices 2016-2017. Svendsen has worked on multilingual socialisation, competence and use among children and adults, and on linguistic practices and identity constructions among young people in multilingual urban spaces. Her recent publications include The dynamics of citizen sociolinguistics (Journal of Sociolinguistics, 22/2, 2018, 137-160) or the book Language, Youth and Identity in the 21st Century. Linguistic Practices across Urban Spaces (co-edited with Jacomine Nortier, Cambridge UP, 2015).


Bente Ailin Svendsen

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Université du Luxembourg

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4365 Luxembourg 2 Avenue de l'Universite, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

Université du Luxembourg
2 Avenue de l'Universite


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