Forthcoming: The Construction of multilinguals as others: Do we practice what we preach?

Artemis Alexiadou   Claudio Scarvaglieri   Christoph Schroeder   Heike Wiese  


Multilingualism is the normal condition for contemporary as well as historical human societies. However, European nation-state building has led to a strong “monolingual habitus” that constructs a community of monolingual speakers as bearers of a nation. This erases or exoticises multilinguistic practices and excludes multilingual speakers. The effects of this exclusion are visible in the public discourse on multilingual speakers, where we find a widespread “Othering” of multilingual speakers, understood as constructing them as members of a social and linguistic out-group. Such Othering is not restricted to public discourse but is also found in our own practice as professionals working in linguistics and related fields. In the volume, we take a close look at Othering practices not only in the public discussion and educational practice, but also in academia, with a focus on linguistics. We provide critical reflection of common practices in our own field, and discuss the implications and challenges of this for our research. Chapters will address conceptual framing and labelling, methodology, and research bias in a broad spectrum of approaches. They will discuss the social context of Othering in linguistics, labelling practises in linguistic publications and the construction of multilinguals as Others in linguistic subdisciplines such as heritage language research, descriptive and documentary linguistics, second language acquisition, language teaching, and outreach activities.


  • Introduction
    Multilinguals as others in society and acadmia: Challlenges of belonging under a monolingual habitus
    Artemis Alexiadou, Claudio Scarvaglieri, Christoph Schroeder, Heike Wiese
  • The social context of Othering
    Claudio Scarvaglieri
  • Labelling multilinguals as Others
    Common topoi in linguistic publications
    Heike Wiese
  • Deconstructing the monolingual norm in research on multilingualism
    Antonella Sorace
  • Methodological Othering through monolingual controls
    How not to
    Artemis Alexiadou
  • (M)other tongue
    Creating the Other through monolingual lenses in descriptive and documentary linguistics
    Frederike Lüpke
  • Constructing a clientel in need
    The field of German as a second language
    Jana Gamper, Christoph Schroeder, Dorothee Steinbock
  • The concept of "linguistic identity" as a reinforcement of nationalism and countermeasures
    İnci Dirim
  • Who's there?
    In/Exclusively addressing the Other in disseminating linguistic results
    Judith Purkarthofer


Artemis Alexiadou

Artemis Alexiadou is director of the Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin and a full professor of general linguistics at Humboldt University Berlin. Her research focuses on syntax and its interfaces with other domains of the architecture of language.

Claudio Scarvaglieri

Claudio Scavarglieri is a full professor of German linguistics at Lausanne University. His main research areas include societal multilingualism, language ideologies and language attitudes, and health communication.

Christoph Schroeder

Christoph Schroeder is a full professor of German as a second language at the University of Potsdam Germany. His research interests include the acquisition of literacy, language contact and language policy.

Heike Wiese

Heike Wiese is a full professor of German in multilingual contexts at Humboldt University Berlin and the speaker of the Research Unit "Emerging Grammars in Language Contact Situations" (RUEG). Her research focuses on grammatical and sociolinguistic aspects of language variation and development in multilingual contexts.


April 19, 2023
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Alexiadou, Artemis, Scarvaglieri, Claudio, Schroeder, Christoph & Wiese, Heike (eds.). Forthcoming. The Construction of multilinguals as others: Do we practice what we preach?. (Contact and Multilingualism). Berlin: Language Science Press.


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