Multilingual Practices in Identity Construction: Virtual Communities of Immigrants to Quebec

Barbara Frank-Job

Bielefeld University,

and Bettina Kluge

University of Hildesheim

Abstract

For people living the dramatic biographic change of a migration process, online communities turn out to be very important as they can meet other migrants online and exchange their experiences. Within these Communities of Practice (Wenger 1998, henceforth CoP), individuals not only share practices – in our case, the practice of becoming and being a migrant, of doing migration – but at the same time they share opinions and orientations, their social, cultural and/or linguistic features, values and experiences. In doing this, they jointly (re)construct new migrant identities and become part of a community in which the practices of migration are the main focus of communication.

This is also the case in virtual communities of immigrants to Quebec. Our corpus consists of (mainly) francophone and hispanophone weblogs. In this article, we consider identity as fragmented and multifold, dynamic and actively negotiated by means of communicative practices. The focus of the current article is placed on different multilingual practices, including the use of different varieties of one language. By making use of all the linguistic resources available to them and which they feel to be able to claim as their ‘own’, members of the different CoP index to each other their feeling of having multiple identities.

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