»Borderlander« linguistic and naming practices: attitudes and ideologies as boundary markers

Michael Hornsby (Poznań)


Borders, as much as they seek to contain, define and control nevertheless also represent (sometimes imaginary) lines which are there to be crossed, contested and resisted. The (idealised) homogeneity of communities is contingent on the notion of the border as a device of containment. However, in the light of increased population movement, understood in both community-internal and in transnational terms, together with older (sometimes involuntary) border shifts, recent multidisciplinary approaches have sought to to capture the complex qualities of the border as both a locus of mobility and a site of enclosure. In particular, discussions on the roles of borders, mobility and migration in sociolinguistic research encourages us to reflect on the broader concept of space, and on its role in the formation and perpetuation of language ideologies. In this panel, we will consider, in particular, what constitutes a border for (socio)linguistic researchers and what linguistic practices ‘borderlanders’ engage in. To explore these issues, four researchers examine (1) the linguistic practices of a family who have to negotiate two borders simultaneously, that of a migratory border (Poland>UK) and a linguistic border (English/Welsh) in their educational choices in a town situated on the border of England and Wales (Rosiak); (2) the linguistic and cultural boundaries which speakers of Upper Sorbian in Lusatia have to negotiate in different facets of their speakerhood: the native/new speaker divide and points of contact between Sorbian and German languages and cultures (Dołowy-Rybińska); (3) the shift in national borders between Germany and Poland over the course of the 20th century and how this has ideologically marked the cityscape in two locations, Poznań and Słubice, and how street renaming can be considered a “battle for representation” (Trumper-Hecht 2009: 238) (Fabiszak); and lastly, membership of minority communities is considered from a linguistic-practices point of view, especially where ‘accent’ can serve as shibboleth for inclusion or exclusion in Brittany. France (Hornsby). Together, these papers indicate how language is used to mark political and sociolinguistic boundaries across Europe in a variety of settings and how speakers are positioned and represented viz-à-viz such borders which, as will be shown, are dynamic and fluid, and which can simultaneously exclude and include them, depending on individual and collective attitudes and ideologies.


Becoming a new speaker of Upper Sorbian through the school education: (de)constructing language and cultural boundaries

Nicole Dołowy-Rybińska (Warschau)

Street renaming as a means of re-ordering the symbolic cityscape in time of shifting borders

Małgorzata Fabiszak (Poznań)

Accent as a shibboleth for inclusion or exclusion in Breton-speaking communities in Brittany

Michael Hornsby (Poznań)

Linguistic practices of a migrant family living on the Welsh-English border

Karolina Rosiak (Poznań)