WP236 The language portrait in multilingualism research: Theoretical and methodological considerations



Language portraits, in which participants visualize their linguistic repertoire using the outline of a body silhouette, were originally developed as a language awareness exercise in education, and they are now increasingly employed as a research tool investigating how speakers themselves experience and interpret their heteroglossic practices and repertoires. The present paper discusses a theoretical and methodological framework for this multimodal approach. It draws on Susanne Langer’s (1948) distinction between discursive and presentational forms of symbolization, arguing that the language portrait can combine both forms. By providing a body image, body portraits offer the possibility of reflecting on one’s communicative repertoire both from the ‘inner’ perspective of the experiencing subject-body as well as from an ‘external’ perspective on the object-body.