1st Edition

Metrolingualism Language in the City

By Alastair Pennycook, Emi Otsuji Copyright 2015
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is about language and the city. Pennycook and Otsuji introduce the notion of ‘metrolingualism’, showing how language and the city are deeply involved in a perpetual exchange between people, history, migration, architecture, urban landscapes and linguistic resources. Cities and languages are in constant change, as new speakers with new repertoires come into contact as a result of globalization and the increased mobility of people and languages.

    Metrolingualism sheds light on the ordinariness of linguistic diversity as people go about their daily lives, getting things done, eating and drinking, buying and selling, talking and joking, drawing on whatever linguistic resources are available. Engaging with current debates about multilingualism, and developing a new way of thinking about language, the authors explore language within a number of contemporary urban situations, including cafés, restaurants, shops, streets, construction sites and other places of work, in two diverse cities, Sydney and Tokyo. This is an invaluable look at how people of different backgrounds get by linguistically.

    Metrolingualism: Language in the city will be of special interest to advanced undergraduate/postgraduate students and researchers of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics.

    Chapter 1 Morning markets and metrolingual multitasking

    The Produce Market: Salamu alaykum mate

    Languages of the market: lingo-ing in their own language

    Multilingualism from below

    Metrolingual multitasking in a restaurant

    Beyond monolingualism: Niemand ist Einsprachig

    Research notes and emergent themes

    Chapter 2: Constructing affiliations and growing foreign vegetables

    Gwai Lou Coi: Growing foreign vegetables

    Metrolingualism, the rural and the urban

    ‘People are basically from everywhere’: Ethnicity and language at work

    Ethnic business and ethnolinguistic repertoires

    Ethnography as process

    Chapter 3: Mobility, rhythms and the city

    Catching a train in Sydney

    The breathing city

    Metrolingualism, space and mobility: ‘chef, iedi efu iki kishu’

    Research: Languages and the unexpected

    Chapter 4 Kitchen talk and spatial repertoires

    The Pizzeria: ‘it’s all part of the Greek culture’

    Kitchen repertoires

    Spatial repertoires: "Pizza mo two minutes coming"

    Location and locution

    Researching language, mobility and practices in place

    Chapter 5: Convivial and contested cities

    ‘It’s too many languages’: Suburban diversities

    Conviviality and the city

    "I’ll fix you up, ya Lebs!": Everyday contestation

    The contested city

    Aussies and ‘the worst general Asian ever’

    Research and stories: The chicken mime

    Chapter 6: Talking food: Commensality and the city

    The Fanta is always greener back home

    Talking food

    ‘Makanai des pauvres’

    "Ma fi fruit bi nom? (There’s no fruit at all?)"

    Red celery and the negotiation of meaning


    Multitasking and participatory research

    Chapter 7: Layers, spaces, signs, networks

    Out-of-place texts

    The historical layers of cities

    Port cities

    Layered languages

    Researching networks: The multilingual cucumber

    Chapter 8 Metrolingua francas

    Languages and the market

    "乜language都有㗎!": From niche to metrolingua francas

    Metrolingual pedagogies and policies

    Conclusion: Writing it all together


    Alastair Pennycook is Professor of Language in Education at the University of Technology Sydney. He is the author of many titles, including Language as a Local Practice (2010) and Global Englishes and Transcultural Flows (2007).

    Emi Otsuji is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. She is the co-editor of the book Languages and Identities in a Transitional Japan: From Internationalization to Globalization (2015) and the Japanese editor for The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multicultuarlism.

    "The authors end their exploratory journey into the variegated world of urban space with a discussion of some policy and pedagogical implications of their findings and a reflection on how the themes addressed in their book emerged from the research process and the writing and re-writing, the shaping and re-shaping of a text that, in my view, makes for fascinating reading." - Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts 1:2 (2015)

    "Alastair Pennycook and Emi Otsuji have produced a compelling and sophisticated account of everyday metrolingualism in action. This immensely readable book is crammed with examples which demonstrate how people communicate in increasingly diverse urban settings. Metrolingualism must be read by anyone who is interested in how we communicate in our changing towns and cities." Adrian Blackledge, University of Birmingham, UK

    "The notion of Metrolingualism vividly captures the dynamic communicative practices in late modernity. In this new book, Pennycook and Otsuji further theorize the concept and enhance it with rich, everyday examples from diverse settings, making it ever more relevant to our understanding of the sociolinguistics of contemporary urban life. It is a landmark publication and will be read by a wide spectrum of researchers for many years to come." Li Wei, UCL Institute of Education, UK

    "Metrolingualism is among the most provocative and intelligent books on multilingualism we will encounter for many years and will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in the study of language in all its aspects." Jerry Won Lee, Asian Englishes

    "A fascinating and important book about the interrelationship between people, mobility, language and urban space." Janus Møller, Journal of Sociolinguistics