The strategic use of address terms in multilingual interactions during family mealtimes

Fatma Said , Zhu Hua

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In their position paper on Language and Superdiversity, Blommaert & Rampton (2011) point out that since the 1990s, multiculturalism as represented by the work on ethnic minorities in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology has gradually given way to superdiversity, which is characterised by ‘a dynamic interplay of variables among an increased number of new, small and scattered, multiple-origin, transnationally connected, socio-economically differentiated and legally stratified immigrants’ (Vertovec 2007, 1024). This chapter aims to contribute to the current debate on diversity and superdiversity through examination of multilingual practices and socialisation and maintenance of cultural values among a family of second and third generation immigrants. The findings are based on a three-year study that explored mealtime routines and interactions of a multilingual Arabic-English speaking family in London. Informed by a sociolinguistic and language socialisation theoretical framework (e.g. Ochs & Schieffelin 1984), this chapter focuses on the strategic use of address terms during these interactions, i.e., the way family members employ address terms to achieve a range of interactional goals. The analyses will help us better understand the role of multiple languages in the process of socialisation and bring to the fore issues of cultural values, social relationship and agency in the context of diversity and superdiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiversity and Super-diversity: Sociocultural Linguistic Perspectives
EditorsAnna De Fina, Didem Ikizoglu, Jeremy Wegner
Place of PublicationGeorgetown, Washington DC
PublisherGeorgetown University Press
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Multilingualism
  • Superdiversity
  • identities
  • Agency
  • Arabic Language
  • Address terms
  • Family languages

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