A Sociolinguistic Insight into the Italian Community in the UK: Workplace Language as an Identity Marker

The Italian diaspora throughout the world navigate and negotiate various complex and multidirectional language dynamics. In order to account for the sociolinguistic processes that have taken place, this book provides a detailed observation of these linguistic dynamics from the point of view of the Italian diaspora in Bedford, in the UK. This study on the language behaviour of three generations of Italian residents in Bedford provides empirical data on, and highlights the importance of, the sociolinguistic examination of English in service encounters. What comes to light in most of the cases analysed, is that audience design has a proven influence on the choice of language and repertoire within the speech of the Bedford Italian community. There are not only switches from one language to another, but also style shifts in the linguistic repertoire. Throughout this study, it becomes clear that speakers freely use the two languages available to their speech community, and, thanks to their active and passive repertoire, they apply a range of linguistic resources from both Italian and English. The volume also uncovers some especially interesting traits in 3rd generation speech, involving in particular a rather widespread use of mixed pronunciation. Upon moving past the initial assumption that the adoption of this mixed pronunciation is used to show the younger generation's sense of belonging to the BI community, a quite different reason emerges. Closer analysis reveals that, due to an increasing feeling of 'non-Britishness', this linguistic choice may be linked to a deliberate and conscious attempt on their part not to accommodate to British culture, and in so doing to distance themselves further from it. Preface by David Britain.