IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE professor closes international linguistics conference

4 July 2018

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) professor Li Wei has delivered the closing speech of the 22nd Sociolinguistics Symposium.

Li Wei

The conference, held at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, focused on current geographical, disciplinary and knowledge interconnections and resituating current key developments in sociolinguistics.

Professor Li Wei's talk 'Linguistic Innovation and Change: A Translanguaging View' addresses three biases that exist in the study of linguistic innovation and change: an English and European bias, a Monolingual bias and the lingual bias.

He contends that current linguistics research pays little attention to the innovation and change initiated by speakers of languages other than English and by bilingual and multilingual language users in particular, with attention almost exclusively focused on conventional speech and writing and no other modalities of human communication.

Professor Li Wei presented a translanguaging approach to linguistic innovation, meaning people can use multiple languages when communicating via social media.

He gave examples from multilingual Chinese netizens and showed how they innovate linguistically in digitally mediated communication in the context of extensive socio-political changes that are happening in China. He argues, 'multilingual language users' linguistic innovation is a creative process of problem solving and a challenge to the policies and ideologies that impact on individuals' everyday lives'.

Since its inception at West Midlands College in the UK in 1976, the biennial Sociolinguistics Symposium series has become the world's leading academic conference in the field of sociolinguistics, attracting delegates from across the globe, and has consistently been at the forefront of academic developments in sociolinguistics. It is the first time that the Sociolinguistics Symposium has been outside of both Europe and the Northern Hemisphere.

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