Between phatic communion and coping tactic. Casamançais multilingual practices

  • Tilmann Heil University of Konstanz
Keywords: Casamance, Catalonia, multilingualism, polylanguaging, phatic communion, conviviality, inequality

Abstract

This paper enquires into the role of multilingual practices in conviviality in shared, socially and culturally mixed localities. I ask how Casamançais use diverse repertoires to get by in everyday life in both Casamance, Senegal and Catalonia, Spain. The concept of conviviality stresses fragile, dynamic processes characteristic of everyday ways of living together with maintained difference. I argue that minimal, but diversified language practices, which compose linguistically diverse repertoires, are central in facilitating conviviality among local residents. Minimal interactions and ‘small talk’, or phatic communion, cushion potentially conflictual socio-cultural differences and inequalities. Firstly, I will evaluate discourses on multilingual practices of Casamançais in both contexts. Second, I will critically explore the reasons for and quality of the widespread use of diverse repertoires. I conclude that multilingual practices facilitate phatic communion sometimes playfully and sometimes as part of coping strategies in situations in which structural forces determine which choices will be more successful than others. The process of conviviality spans both these aspects describing ever-dynamic and ever-fragile ways of living with difference.

Published
2018-11-07