Socializing Heteroglossia among Miskitu children on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua

Amanda Minks


This article adapts Bakhtin’s term “heteroglossia” as a framework for analyzing Miskitu children’s multilingual speech on Corn Island, off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. Analysis of naturally occurring speech in this context illustrates the utility of partial competencies and hybridized speech, supporting a view of language not as a bounded system, but as a diverse pool of communicative resources that socialize children into multiple modes of voicing and acting. More broadly, the article examines the relations between language ideologies and language socialization, and the ways that both are articulated within complex histories of cultural interaction and stratified social relations. The article challenges conventional dichotomies of language loss and revitalization by viewing the hybrid linguistic practices that enable children to bridge social and cultural worlds.

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