Restructuration and Commodification of Linguistic Repertoires in a Moldovan-Italian Call Center

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Anna WEIRICH, Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt, Germany
The term "commodification" of linguistic resources has been used in order to describe processes considered typical for "neoliberal economy" (Heller/ Duchêne 2013). In this view language is an instrument in the management of international networks, and a source of symbolic added value.

Adopting the point of view of the workers, we should additionally ask which significance the exploitation of linguistic resources as part of the work force has for linguistic biographies and the restructuration of linguistic repertoires. This could be a fruitful theoretical approach to combining micro processes of individual language elaboration (Maas 2008) and dynamic socioeconomic and linguistic relations.

In a case study I researched the exploration of L2-Italian-resources in a Call Center in the moldovan capital Chişinău. On the level of political economy and linguistic relations we can observe that mass (trans)migration of Moldovans to Italy (and back to Moldova) attracts outsourcing of communication services to Moldova. Linguistic relations are thus being shaped by the precarious economic situation of most Moldovans. While preconditions for being employed in this Call Center were relatively low, the job itself was very demanding, among others because of the specialised vocabulary. At the same time the job allows speakers with only basic knowledge to find access to the working process by the help of formulaic speech. In order to understand the connection between linguistic biographies and exploitation of work force adequately, I will present data from the training sessions in the Call Center reconstruct the employees' linguistic elaboration processes.

Heller, Monica; Duchêne, Alexandre (2012): Pride and Profit: Changing Discourses of Language, Capital and Nation-State. In: Alexandre Duchêne und Monica Heller (Hg.): Language in late capitalism. Pride and profit. New York, S. 1–21.

Maas, Utz (2008): Sprache und Sprachen in der Migrationsgesellschaft. Die schriftkulturelle Dimension. Göttingen, Osnabrück.