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OnderzoekOnderzoek Faculteit der LetterenOnderzoeksinstitutenCenter for Language and Cognition

DISCO meeting: Bianca Dijkstra (University Groningen/Campus Fryslân)

Wanneer:di 13-02-2018 12:00 - 12:45
Waar:room 1312.0007
We drew how it needed to be loaded’: Multilingual communication practices of Polish truck drivers on European roads

In Europe, international truck drivers need to manoeuvre their way through the diverse (linguistic) landscape. Since the mid-2000s the number of Eastern European drivers is rapidly increasing, as these drivers react to the driver shortage in the West in an effort to improve their economic well-being. Some of these drivers are not highly proficient in English and/or German. As a result, in the Netherlands there is a tenacious stereotype in which Eastern European truckers are perceived as people who are ‘unable to communicate’. And yet, despite a complicated linguistic, social, and political backdrop these drivers keep our supply chain intact.

I will present a small scale case study, which was part of my master’s thesis, and then I will sketch the plan for my doctoral research. The case study focused on the language practices of five Polish truck drivers who drive internationally taking into account both their own perspective, and the perspective of their Dutch clients. The interactions between the drivers and their clients were observed; then the participants took part in semi-structured interviews. The main objective was to gain insights into the dynamics and demands of multilingual work interaction, including approaches to avoid communicative pitfalls. Furthermore, the study explored how these drivers negotiate contextual meaning and language choice in multilingual situations.