Social and linguistic mobility of unaccompanied minors: analyzing relationships and linguistic resources in migration through nominal forms of address

Malou Mestrinaro | Université d‘Orléans

Within the various categories of migrating people, the unaccompanied minors represent one that has drawn more and more attention on itself in literacy for the last decade. Either arriving by themselves on a new territory, or having been left after entering, these minors only have a few years – until their majority – to find a more stable situation in order to settle in a country. Settling then involves numerous challenges for the minors, including the discovery and acquisition of new sociocultural codes and creating their new social network.

Applying Kerbrat-Orecchioni’s model (2010, 2012, 2014) to a multicultural reception center, we aim to analyze how nominal forms of address (NFAs) may represent a linguistic resource for these minors to network in their current environment. Indeed, NFAs carry a relational meaning that differs according to the allocutary and the situation, which brings information on the relationship between the participants in a given interaction. Through interactional analysis we work out how the relational categories (social or affective) expressed by the NFAs constitute modalities of developing linguistic and social mobility, especially by the functions these resources fulfill in interaction.

The data on which the study is based is collected in a reception center for unaccompanied minors in France. There, they live and are guided until their majority by social workers who help them to quickly acquire new codes of living, both sociocultural and institutional, in order to ease the comprehension of the welcoming society. Recordings are made during the weekly cooking workshop, and in the ‘blank’ times between the preparation and diner, thus offering a large range of interactions between minors, and between minors and social workers.


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