New Books in Language

Interviews with Scholars of Language about their New Books Support our show by becoming a premium member!


episode 1: Lies We Tell Ourselves about the History of Multilingualism

Ingrid Piller speaks with Aneta Pavlenko about her new book Multilingualism and History (Cambridge UP, 2023).

We often hear that our world 'is more multilingual than ever before', but is it true? This book shatters that cliché. It is the first volume to shine light on the millennia-long history of multilingualism as a social, institutional and demographic phenomenon. Its fifteen chapters, written in clear, accessible language by prominent historians, classicists, and sociolinguists, span the period from the third century BC to the present day, and range from ancient Rome and Egypt to medieval London and Jerusalem, from Russian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires to modern Norway, Ukraine, and Spain. Going against the grain of traditional language histories, these thought-provoking case studies challenge stereotypical beliefs, foreground historic normativity of institutional multilingualism and language mixing, examine the transformation of polyglot societies into monolingual ones, and bring out the cognitive and affective dissonance in present-day orientations to multilingualism, where 'celebrations of linguistic diversity' coexist uneasily with creation of 'language police'.

First published on January 03, 2024.

“Chats in Linguistic Diversity” is a podcast about linguistic diversity in social life brought to you by the Language on the Move team. We explore multilingualism, language learning, and intercultural communication in the contexts of globalization and migration.

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 February 15, 2024  56m