Francesco Goglia (University of Exeter)


Course description
This course explores the city from a sociolinguistic perspective. Cities are loci of encounters of different beliefs, behavioural norms, day-to-day rituals and linguistic practices. Because of globalisation and international migration, cities are increasingly multilingual. This course will focus on both the original linguistic repertoire of cities (local languages) and the new linguistic diversity (immigrant and international languages). The encounters between these many languages and their speakers result in new linguistic practices and behaviours (both in face-to-face interaction and in all forms of mediated language use), new experiences with language, and multiple visual impacts on the physical environment.
This course explores ways of describing and understanding the forms and consequences of urban multilingualism, focusing on major cities in Europe (e.g. London, Barcelona, Paris) and around the world (e.g. Melbourne, Singapore, Kolkata, Toronto). Students will learn how to investigate ways in which different patterns of language use impact on life in the contemporary city and reflect on multilingual cities they are familiar with as well as the case of Venice, a city in which both global, immigrant and local languages coexist.
The course will introduce a number of inter-related themes, including some or all of the following: linguistic demography, historic multilingualism, immigration and new multilingualism, globalisation and international languages, official city language policies (how civic authorities and institutions try to regulate and/or promote the status and use of different languages), face to face language practices (how different multilingual speakers interact and make use of their linguistic repertoires), mediated language practices (how different linguistic resources are used to transcend local spaces, e.g. through multilingual poster advertising and broadcasting), language, place and space (how linguistic practices contribute to the social constitution of space in the city), linguistic landscapes (the presence of languages in the physical fabric of the city), speakers’ language attitudes (how experiences with language and individual agencies contribute to use of languages in the city), non-mobile speakers who stay their entire lives in their cities, speakers who functionally ‘play’ with languages and use them as commodities (e.g. business owners or workers in the tourism industry in Venice).

Learning outcomes
This course will provide students with an understanding of the key theoretical notions and concepts in Urban Multilingualism. Students will learn to examine and provide a critical discussion of the main outcomes of multilingualism in cities, compare and contrast practices and policies in different urban contexts, and analyse primary data (e.g. written texts, photos, interview transcripts). Having successfully completed this course, students will be able to: research individual topics on multilingualism in cities independently and contribute to online discussions and debates on a Padlet wall, engage in team work and exchange ideas with other students in small groups, plan and prepare individual and joint seminar presentations and other group activities.

Teaching methods
The course will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce each topic. The seminars will include a series of student-led activities: presentations, students will take turns to lead discussion and organise small-group tasks. There will be one or two readings per week (around 20/30 pages).
There will also be fieldtrips in Venice to teach students data collection techniques for the study of urban multilingualism.
The course places considerable emphasis on collaborative forms of learning:
- All students will contribute to a Padlet wall ‘Multilingual Cities’, through which they will build up a shared portfolio of material (text extracts, photos, comments on a particular topic, sound recordings, video clips, students’ reflections on their sense of belonging to their city of origin and Venice, etc.)
- A discussion forum will allow students to ask any questions on the course or the readings.
- Students will be asked to discuss topics in small groups in advance of seminars and prepare seminar assignments together sometimes in the form of data collection (investigate the linguistic landscape of a particular area of Venice, or observe language practices in the city).

The Multilingual City: An Introduction
Languages in the City: Old and New Multilingualism Language and Dialect
Linguistic Repertoires and Domains of language use Diglossia and bilingualism
Language maintenance and language shift (immigration context) Language maintenance and language shift (historic minorities) Language endangerment, death and revitalization
Linguistic Demography - Census Data Language policy and Language Planning Urban linguistic landscape
Language and identity Speakers’ attitudes English as a lingua franca
Veneto dialect in today’s Venice

Invited guest lectures via Zoom:
- Dr Atanu Saha (Jadavpur Unirsity, Kokata, India) A case study of Kolkata
- Prof Antonia Soriente (Università di Napoli L’Orientale)
A case study of Jakarta
- Ms Asli Haddas Decolonising Milan

Trips in Venice:
- Visit at San Lazzaro: Armenian and language revitalization
- Visit at the Ghetto: the case of Hebrew
- Visit to Venice Bangla School: the case of Bengali in Venice

Teaching Assessment
1. Individual Presentation (25% of the final mark) on a language in a chosen city in week 8
2. Group Presentation (25% of the final mark) on a chosen city in week 11
3. Essay (2,000 words) (50% of the final mark).

The tutor will provide a list of questions; alternative questions may be possible, but only in consultation with the tutor. Students will be encouraged to collect data to analyse in their essay (interviews, photos, observations, recorded conversations, etc.). Students will be taught how to deal with ethical issue in data collection.

Bibliography/Recommended Reading
Block, D. (2006). Multilingual Identities in a Global City: London Stories. Palgrave. Blommaert, J. (2010). The Sociolinguistics of Globalization. CUP.
Blommaert, J. (2013). Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes. Multilingual Matters. Danet, B. & S. Herring (eds) (2007). The Multilingual Internet. OUP.
Extra, G. & K. Yagmur (eds) (2004). Urban Multilingualism in Europe. Multilingual Matters.
Hajek, John, Norrby, Catrin, Kretzenbacher, Heinz L. and Schüpbach, Doris (2024). Multilingualism and Pluricentricity: A Tale of Many Cities, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
Jaworski, A. & C. Thurlow (eds) (2010). Semiotic Landscapes. Continuum.
King L. & L. Carson (eds). (2016). The Multilingual City. Vitality, Conflict and Change. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Mac Giolla Chriost, Diarmait (2007). Language and the City. Palgrave.
Modan, G. (2007). Turf Wars: discourse, diversity and the politics of place. Blackwell. Pennycook, A. (2010). Language as a Local Practice. Routledge.
Shohamy, E. et al (eds) (2010). Linguistic Landscape and the City. Multilingual Matters. Siemund, P. & J.R.E. Leimgruber (eds) (2020). Multilingual Global Cities. Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai. London: Routledge.
Smakman, D. & P. Heinrich (eds) (2018). Urban Sociolinguistics. The City as a Linguistic Process and Experience. London: Routledge.



Last updated: June 14, 2024


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272