Siblings’ Multilingual Discourse

Macleroy, Vicky. 2022. Siblings’ Multilingual Discourse. In: Anat Stavans and Ulrike Jessner-Schmid, eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Childhood Multilingualism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 325-352. ISBN 9781108669771 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter explores the integral role that siblings’ multilingual discourse plays in children’s multilingual childhood and examines these language practices across diverse family lives and sites of learning. In discussing key concepts in the field of family studies, young children are viewed as spending as much if not more time with siblings than their parents. This chapter looks at siblings as agentive in shaping the language environment in multilingual families and reflects on research in the area of siblings’ language choices, humour and intimacy as well as sibling rivalry in multilingual discourse. A distinctive feature of sibling relationships is their seriality and research on the place or ‘niche’ of each child in a family is looked at in relation to a child’s emerging multilingualism. Siblings’ multilingual discourse is viewed as dynamic and siblings’ language practices as in flux as the family grows, moves, or separates. Research on siblings as literacy mediators is examined and studies on siblings’ creative multilingualism. This chapter recognises the key role of digital technology in children’s lives and examines siblings’ multilingual discourse in these new digital spaces. New research is shared that investigates how multilingual siblings worked together on an international digital storytelling project.

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Book Section

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This material has been published in revised form in The Cambridge Handbook of Childhood Multilingualism edited by Anat Stavans
and Ulrike Jessner []. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use.


siblings, discourse, language practices, mediators, multilingual literacies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies
Educational Studies > Centre for Language, Culture and Learning


29 October 2021Completed
18 August 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

06 Jan 2022 17:41

Last Modified:

18 Feb 2023 02:26


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