Language Diversity at Work: Guidelines to an Interdisciplinary Approach

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 5:45 PM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
María Guadalupe GONZALEZ TREJO , Classical Languages Department, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico
Communication at work is a complex process in which there is much more at stake than information exchange. How can such an element be analyzed in order to understand both its nature and relevance inside organizational culture (Velázquez Valadéz & González Trejo, 2013)? How can we introduce a sociolinguistic perspective to approach it? The answer might conduce to consider firstly a renewed concept regarding language diversity. Namely, it could be conceived as a performance landscape or development arena emerging as a result of dynamic forces affecting the linguistic repertoire. Inside companies, language diversity would enable individuals to perform exchange and balance functions (particular registers and domains) which ultimately represent a place of social significance. The latter would imply, secondly, a new perspective to be introduced into a typical analysis of communication at work in order to analyze speaking events considering the following elements (Hymes, 1974): setting and scene, participants, ends, act sequence, keys, instrumentalities, norms and genre, among others. Such approach would also result from the integration of concepts from the so called Economics of Linguistic Exchanges (Bourdieu, 1985) into what is called “Economics of Language” (Grin, 1996). Investigation in the latter field pay special emphasis on: reasons why some languages must be taught and learned rather than others, level of proficiency in different languages that companies desire in their employees, evaluation of benefits for individual learners or for society of learning and teaching second languages, language policies in education promoted in organizations and their relationship with macro policies (Grin, 2002). Finally, it is the purpose of this contribution to present results from interviews analyzed during the qualitative stage of an investigation conducted in Mexican companies using the concepts and approach described to inquire about the relationship between diverse sociolinguistic functions and positions individuals hold in a company.