On the basis of internet forum and press media data, this article studies the expression of hostile attitudes towards multilingualism and multiculturalism in the context of debates about immigration. The forum data are drawn from the BBC’s Have Your Say website, which is a moderated forum that excludes polemical and abusive postings. Nevertheless, it still seems to provide its users ample opportunity for airing strongly anti-immigrant attitudes. The narratives in which these attitudes are being expressed are exemplary stories of the posters’ supposed encounters with the use of foreign languages in the street, in the workplace or at school. This presence of foreign languages in the British public sphere is evaluated as being (at least) problematic and is “explained” as a result of mass immigration, which serves to reinforce the scenario of a culture mix that will destroy British “home” culture. Media coverage of immigration partly supports such vilification of multilingualism and multiculturalism, and the reports and comments often seem to be drawn from similar narrative-argumentative templates as those of the discussions on Have Your Say. In conclusion, we argue that counterspeech informed by Critical Discourse Analysis has to develop alternative narratives and figurative scenarios that question the bias against linguistic and cultural diversity.
- Internet forums
- language myth