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Polylanguaging Vilnius Youth

Polylanguaging Vilnius Youth: Social Value, Language Play and Identity Negotiation

INGA VYŠNIAUSKIENĖ Junior Research Fellow
Youth language researchers perceive adolescents as skilled social actors who use a wide array of linguistic features, among which features of different languages are significant. Adolescents use those features (Danish teenagers use Arabic features or British youth often inserts German features) playfully, creatively, to achieve their communicative aims as best they can. Youth language reasearches employ the concept of polylingualism to refer to such linguistic practice of late modern adolescents. Even though polylanguaging youth has been much investigated across many European cities, no significant analysis has yet been undertaken of the polylingual aspect of Vilnius adolescents’ language. It is likely that Vilnius, as a multicultural and multilingual city, is an interesting niche for the analysis of polylingual youth practice.
The data of my PhD thesis draws on 50 hours of transcribed spontaneous Vilnius youth speech in both ethically mixed and ethnically unmarked districts. The aim of the research is to analyse the social meanings of polylingual ways with language in everyday linguistic practice of Vilnius youth.
I will compare the frequency of Russian, English (and other) features across the dimensions of age (10-13 and 14-16 years old) and gender. To analyse how polylingual ways with language become meaningful to adolescents, to get understanding of social processes happening when young polylanguagers communicate, interactional analysis of the data will be undertaken. In addition, school students’ (17-18 years old) attitudes to the usage of linguistic features in youth language will be analysed to give a full picture of the social value of  polylingual Vilnius youth discourse.
I am grateful to all the informants for their help. But for their contribution, this project would not have even started.