Hearing-as-touch in a multilingual film interview: the interviewer's linguistic incompetence as aesthetic key moment

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This paper explores the author’s embodied experience of linguistic incompetence in the context of an interview-based, short, promotional film production about people’s personal connections to their spoken languages in Glasgow, Scotland/UK. The paper highlights that people’s right to their spoken languages during film interviews and the embodied, translingual dimensions manifested through their languages, poses important methodological questions for research contexts where more than one language is present. In order to understand the relationship between the interviewer’s discomfort when not being able to linguistically connect, and people’s rights to speak their languages, the article draws on existing concepts in language studies such as ‘linguistic incompetence’ (Phipps, 2013) and ‘translingual practice’ (Canagarajah, 2013). Mieke Bal’s (2007a, 2007b) ‘migratory aesthetics’ and Sara Ahmed’s (2000) notion of ‘hearing as touch’ are used to frame the embodied and aesthetic dimensions of the overall film production. It is argued that the interviewer’s bodily discomfort during multilingual film interviews and the ethical and methodological considerations it triggered, reveals the film production as a space for imaginative acts. These can rupture monolingual expectations and dignify people’s language practices in the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Multilingual Research Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2016


  • migratory aesthetics
  • hearing as touch
  • multilingual film interviews
  • linguistic competence
  • film pedagogy
  • translingual practice

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