Lingua francas beyond English: multilingual repertoires among immigrants in a southwestern US border town

Jenna Ann Altherr Flores, Dongchen Hou, Wenhao Diao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


English is often assumed to be the national language in the US and the global language in the world; yet such views fail to address the complex linguistic repertoires of people living in linguistically heterogeneous places even within the US. Spotlighting a southwestern US border town, we provide a critique of both nation-state-language ideology, and of the neoliberal view of English as the global language par excellence. Our research, drawing from notions of linguistic scaling (e.g. Blommaert, 2007. Sociolinguistic scales. Intercultural Pragmatics, 4(1), 1–19) and chronotopic identities (Blommaert & De Fina, 2017. Chronotopic identities: On the timespace organization of who we are. In A. De Fina, D. Ikizoglu, & J. Wegner (Eds.), Diversity and superdiversity: Sociocultural linguistic perspectives (pp. 1–15). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press), focuses on language use in two distinct multilingual immigrant communities – Chinese immigrants of a Mandarin church, and resettled Lhotshampa refugees. By examining the sociolinguistic experiences our participants encounter, we explore how multilingual individuals in these two communities (re)negotiate linguistic hierarchies in chronotopic configurations. These immigrants engage in linguistic practices involving neither solely English nor their first languages, and strategically (re)scale language hierarchies in the local context of this border town.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-133
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • English
  • Lingua francas
  • border town
  • immigrants
  • multilingualism
  • neoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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