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‘No, we don't mix languages’: Ideological power and the chronotopic organization of ethnolinguistic identities

  • Farzad Karimzad (a1) and Lydia Catedral (a2)

In this study we address ethnolinguistic identity using Bakhtin's (1981) notion of chronotope. Taking an ethnographic approach to linguistic data from Azerbaijani and Uzbek communities, we trace the impact of various chronotopes on our participants’ acts of ethnolinguistic identification. Building on Blommaert & De Fina (2017), we illustrate how ethnolinguistic identification is an outcome of the interaction between multiple levels of large- and small-scale chronotopes. Furthermore, we argue that chronotopes differ in terms of their power, depending on the ideological force behind them. We demonstrate how power differentials between chronotopes can account for certain interactional and linguistic patterns in conversation. The power inherent in chronotopes that link nationhood with specific languages makes the notions of discrete languages and static identities ‘real’ for our participants. Therefore, discussions of language and identity as flexible and socially constructed, we argue, must not obscure the power of these notions in shaping the perceptions of sociolinguistic subjects. (Chronotope, ethnolinguistic identity, power, Uzbek, Azeri/Azerbaijani, nationalism, language mixing, language ideology)*

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Farzad Karimzad Department of English Salisbury University 1101 Camden Ave. Salisbury, MD 21801, USA
Lydia Catedral Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 4080 Foreign Languages Building 707 S. Mathews Ave, MC-168 Urbana, IL 61801, USA
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This article would not have been possible without the assistance of Rakesh Bhatt. Thank you also to Marina Terkourafi, Michele Koven, and the members of the Discourse, Social Interaction, & Translation lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We are also grateful to the University of Illinois Language and Society Discussion reading group where the idea for this article was originally discussed. Finally, thanks to Jan Blommaert and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. All errors and omissions are our own.

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Language in Society
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