The Functions of Multiple Languages in Mealtime Interactions of an Arabic-English speaking family: A Sociolinguistic Approach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution



Publication details

Title of host publicationPostgraduate and Academic Researchers in Linguistics at York (PARLAY 2015)
DatePublished - Jun 2016
Number of pages17
Original languageEnglish


This paper discusses the ways in which members of an Arabic-English speaking family under study use language for a variety of social roles and functions during their joint mealtime conversations. The data was collected over a period of 8 months, and subsequently analysed from a sociolinguistic and applied conversation analytic standpoint. The findings indicate that the use and switch between Arabic and English serve to assist parents in socialising their children into specific desired social practices and understandings, in allowing them to reinforce their identities as socialisers, as well as a way for them to communicate emotion to their children. These languages equally serve to assist the children to reinforce their constantly changing identities, to form a connection with their parents, and importantly as a symbolic tool through which they take up their agency in the process of socialisation. The findings also suggest that the constant use of both languages in this everyday mundane activity of joint mealtimes plays an integral role in maintaining the Arabic language as the family’s home or minority language.

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