How to talk about languages: The venues metaphor

Jim O'driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper advocates a new perspective on languages. It begins by demonstrating that, the occasional disavowals of sociolinguists notwithstanding, the lens through which we in the 21st century, both specialists and laypeople, view languages is predominantly biological. It then suggests that this biological metaphor is conceptually unhelpful and potentially socially deleterious. The bulk of the paper presents and explores the metaphor of social venues as a more productive and empowering alternative: The presentation is through the example of language choice in multilingual settings; the exploration touches on a range of language contact and macro-sociolinguistic phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-625
Number of pages25
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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