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Linguistic competences: Do they really need improving?

Hultgren, Anna Kristina (2014). Linguistic competences: Do they really need improving? In: Cancino, Rita and Dam, Lotte eds. Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Language Competence. Aalborg University Press, pp. 189–213.

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Abstract

In today’s globalized societies, characterized by increased translingual, multimodal and sometimes fast-paced communication, the concept “linguistic competences” has become a highly prolific notion. It is frequently invoked as the remedy for all sorts of problems, and lack thereof is seen as the root of all evils (Cameron 2000a). This paper offers a critical sociolinguistic approach to the notion of linguistic competences. It asks what people actually mean by “linguistic competences” and why it has apparently become such a central concept in contemporary society. Drawing on examples from two contexts, the globalized call centre industry and the eight internationalized universities of Denmark, the paper first examines the meaning of linguistic competences. Here, it finds that a strengthening of linguistic competences is hailed as the same solution to problems which are very different in nature and which are perceived to exist in both the call centres and the universities. Drawing on Cameron’s notion of “verbal hygiene” (2012a), it then proposes that the preoccupation with language, and more specifically with linguistic competences, may be interpreted as a symbolic act for a much more fundamental urge of human being to put the world to right. In this interpretation, interventions in the social order come to be conflated with interventions in the social order come to be conflated with interventions in language, and more specifically in linguistic competences.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBN: 87-7112-187-0, 978-87-7112-187-2
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Languages and Applied Linguistics > English Language & Applied Linguistics
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Languages and Applied Linguistics
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Language & Literacies
International Development & Inclusive Innovation
Item ID: 46135
Depositing User: Anna Kristina Hultgren
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2016 08:16
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2018 22:17
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/46135
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