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The Multilingual Struggle

The world is unjust, and language has a part in it. This is how Quentin Williams, Ana Deumert and Tommaso M. Milani start their book Struggles for Multilingualism and Linguistic Citizenship. One way a person can practice their linguistic citizenship is to use a language to "assert its presence" (p. 43), especially in contexts in which the language and its speakers have historically been marginalized.

The struggle for linguistic recognition and empowerment is a common thread throughout the book, and is applicable to the US context in many obvious ways. Being able to enjoy life at a museum, in a restaurant, or at a park involves using the language one feel comfortable and empowered using. It is more than just access-- "just" getting a fair trial or "just" hearing your options for cancer treatment in a language you understand is the minimum, but not the norm for justice.

For multilingual parents of multilingual children, you will want to read this book to understand how your language choices are political choices that will affect the lives of your children and grandchildren.

For language teachers, you will want to read this book to understand the role you play in challenging language ideologies, especially of monolingualism.

For translation and interpreting professionals, you will want to read this book to know how to move beyond providing a service, to fighting the multilingual struggle.


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