Multilingualism and identity

M.A., Language rights Valisa Krairiksh Sinervo
to 22.9. klo 13.00 – 13.30

Did you know that the scientific name for changing languages in a conversation or social situation is called ‘Code Switching’? This term highlights how changing languages is not just about speaking different words and applying different grammar rules – it also activates entirely different behavioral patterns and social dynamics. In this online lecture, I will discuss how multilinguals - especially childhood multilinguals - do not simply speak several languages, but actually have different social identities depending on the language they are using.

Valisa Krairiksh majored in linguistics during her bachelor’s degree and wrote her master’s thesis in humanitarian action on the role of language identity in the separatist movement in Southern Thailand. She is a trilingual and multiethnic third culture kid.

The lecture is organised by Duo for Intercultural Families in cooperation with the Family Federation.

More information about Duo and intercultural families:

  • 13:01 Roosa-Väestöliitto You can ask questions and make comments about the topic of the lecture by writing them to the chat field. The lecturer will answer to your questions at the end of the lecture. The lecture is recorded and can be watched from both Duo's website ( and after the lecture. If you have some technical problem; use different browser (Chrome). It might be difficult to follow the lecture by mobile.
  • 13:09 Jonna Shemeikka Is it code switching when actually a substitute word doesn't exist at all in another language?
  • 13:15 Roosa-Väestöliitto Jonna Shemeikka, the lecturer will answer to your questions at the end of the lecture.
  • 13:28 Erwin Fischer If you understand 'language' as a context specific means to communicate (code) there are very few monolinguals among us. Learning multiple codes is one of our human capacities.
  • 13:36 Jonna Shemeikka An example of this would be haalari in Finnish with no word in Arabic
  • 13:39 Erwin Fischer I say this because there is a big myth in Finland and elsewhere that monolingual is the 'natural' state of things.
  • 13:41 Erwin Fischer One can always describe haalari, languages don't have one-to-one word expression, but have the capacity to describe what ever is around.
  • 13:43 Erwin Fischer Thanks
  • 13:43 Jonna Shemeikka Thanks for the interesting lecture!