Chapter in:Advances in Interdisciplinary Language Policy
Edited by François Grin, László Marácz and Nike K. Pokorn
[Studies in World Language Problems 9] 2022
► pp. 298–316
The role of intercomprehension in short-term mobility experiences in multilingual contexts
Intercomprehension is a common and well-known mediation choice in established contexts of multilingualism such as bilingual families or neighbouring languages. However, in the context of mobility experiences this multilingual communication strategy is relatively rarely used and almost unstudied. The aim of this chapter is to verify if and how oral intercomprehension is used in non-established multilingual contexts. The study covers the very specific case of two Italian adoptive families whose parents are involved in a short-term mobility experience to the child’s home country (Chile) before going back to Italy together as a family. The conversational analysis of the families’ interactions in Chile reveal that both families spontaneously resort to intercomprehension as one of their main mediation strategies, especially in the family where mutual intelligibility between Italian and Spanish had been reinforced by previous language learning. In addition, our findings show that the use of intercomprehension favours the children’s participation in family interactions over the use of other mediation choices. Since the use of intercomprehension spontaneously decreases over time in favour of the child’s use of the parents’ language, this mediation choice can be considered as a transitional and propaedeutic communication strategy whose cooperative character creates strong cohesion between speech participants.