Habitus and imagined ideals : Attending to (un)consciousness in discourses of (non)nativeness

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-285
Journal / PublicationInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number3
Online published17 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


This study responds to scholarship that has examined “folk concepts” of (non)nativeness through the lens of imagined ideals of the native speaker, by proposing a framework that integrates both ideals and habits. We operationalize these concepts by drawing from the theoretical notions of chronotope, scale, and habitus. Using data from interviews with Central Asian transnational migrants, we demonstrate how attending to both the habitual and idealized aspects of speakers’ metalinguistic commentary offers a more holistic approach to the study of multilingual repertoires and speakers’ social positionings in relationship to (non)nativeness. Our findings demonstrate how identification as a “(non)native” speaker may become more or less important to participants depending on whether they orient to habits or ideals. We also show that speakers’ use of “discourses of habit”, which emphasize their less conscious linguistic behaviors, may lead to a blurring of the lines between nativeness and non-nativeness. This in turn has implications for theories of agency as resistance to linguistic marginalization, and contributes to applied issues related to language education.

Research Area(s)

  • (Non)nativeness, habitus, language and migration, language ideologies, multilingual repertoires