Multilingual children between real and imaginary worlds: language play as resignifying practice

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This article analyzes how a group of multilingual children in their early adolescence use various forms of language play and position themselves symbolically through involvement in signifying practices. By developing a conceptual framework that combines insights on language play (Cook 2000) and the signifying self (Kramsch 2009), it demonstrates how the children as sign makers and symbolic subjects (re)signify their own learning space. The analysis reveals how, during a reading and joint text construction activity in Danish, they explore the symbolic possibilities of signs and subjectivities, while moving in and out of the text and back and forth between imagined and real worlds. These findings illustrate how the children’s interest both shapes their playful interaction and takes shape through it. It furthermore shows how language play contributes to paving the way for a resignification of a potentially vulnerable learner position to a subject position as audible. The paper argues that a detailed focus on children’s signifying practices that includes the interactional development of interest can broaden our understanding of language play and its transformative potential.
TidsskriftApplied Linguistics
Sider (fra-til)799-822
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - 2018


  • Sprog, Dansk som 2. sprog, Ungdomskultur

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