Second Language Speakers and Social Justice: A Case Study in Theoretical and Practical Complexities

Aneta Pavlenko

Research Professor
Center for Multilingualism
University of Oslo

12:00 pm CST
Friday, April 29
Online on Zoom

About the talk

While language access for second language (L2) speakers has long been a concern for policy makers and applied linguists, in the past two years we have witnessed a proliferation of publications that propose new models of ‘linguistic justice’ in the public space. Unfortunately, many proposals display a hazy understanding of language-policy making and the relationship between language and law. In this talk I will highlight the theoretical complexities of determining what constitutes ‘linguistic justice’ and ‘language access’ in the criminal justice system and then discuss the realities of language-policy making and implementation in two areas: (a) court interpreting and (b) police interrogation and delivery of the Miranda rights to L2 speakers of English. I will illustrate this discussion with examples from my own practice as a forensic linguist and from my research, including a study in-progress that examines court decisions on appeals from L2 speakers of English who protest violations of their Miranda rights.

Sponsors: Second Language Acquisition Doctoral Program, Language Institute, and the Department of Language Sciences, with funding through the Anonymous Fund

Contact: Jana Martin

The UW-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Jana Martin three business days in advance.

About the author

Aneta Pavlenko, Ph.D., is a Research Professor at the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan at the University of Oslo and Past President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. Her research focuses on multilingualism, forensic linguistics, sociolinguistics, and language policy, among others. Dr. Pavlenko is the winner of the 2021 AAAL Research Article Award, the 2009 TESOL Award for Distinguished Research, 2006 BAAL Book of the Year award, and author of numerous articles and books. Her latest publications are listed below:

• Feigned incompetence: The pitfalls of evaluating Miranda comprehension in non-native speakers of English. Language and Law, 8, 1, 97-119.
• Urbanik, P. & A. Pavlenko (2021) Securing understanding in a second language: Communication of rights in investigative interviews in the USA and Norway. In Blackwood, R. & U. Royland (eds.) Spaces of multilingualism. Routledge, pp. 92-112.
• Pavlenko, A., Hepford, E., Tavella, C. & S. Michalovic (2020) Everyone has the right to understand: Teaching legal rights to ESL students. TESOL Journal, 11, 4.
• Pavlenko, A., Hepford, E. & S. Jarvis (2019) An illusion of understanding: How native and non-native speakers of English understand (and misunderstand) their Miranda rights. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 26, 2, 181-207. (Winner of the 2021 AAAL research article award.)
• Pavlenko, A. (2014) The bilingual mind and what it tells us about language and thought. Cambridge University Press.
• Pavlenko, A. (2011) Thinking and speaking in two languages. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

For more information, please visit Dr. Pavlenko’s website.