How multiethnic is a multiethnolect? Recontextualising Multicultural London English

Christian Ilbury, Paul Kerswill

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Clyne (2000) coined the term multiethnolect to refer to a newly-formed contact variety of a mainstream, majority-community language in contexts of high immigration. This chapter poses the question of just how ‘multiethnic’ such a language variety may be in practice, focusing on Multicultural London English (MLE), a multiethnolect spoken by young, working-class people in inner-city areas of London (Cheshire et al., 2008; 2011). Earlier research demonstrated that neighbourhood, ethnicity and the ethnic diversity of an individual's social network predicted the use of MLE. More recently, scholars working in a variety of contexts have documented a number of differences in the use, function and distribution of MLE features (Drummond, 2018; Gates, 2018; Ilbury, 2019). In this chapter, we consider the ‘recontextualisation’ (Bauman and Briggs, 1990) of MLE. We first discuss its status as a speech style that is associated with particular social practices, such as participation in the grime music scene. We then reflect on the association of MLE with a contemporary Black British identity. Finally, we consider the ways in which MLE features have acquired a type of ‘cultural capital’ that speakers use to index their belonging to certain (youth) subcultures (Cutler and Røyneland, 2015).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Language and Youth Culture
EditorsBente A. Svendsen , Rickard Jonsson
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003166849
ISBN (Print)9780367764142
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics


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