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Dr. Naomi Truan delivers lunchtime talk at Austria Centre Leiden

Dr. Naomi Truan, Assistant Professor of German Sociolinguistics at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics delivered a lunchtime talk sponsored by the Austria Centre Leiden and the Central and East European Studies. We asked her about her presentation, her research and the state of Central European Studies at Leiden.

What did you present on during your lunch talk at the Austria Centre and how does this presentation connect with your current research and teaching?

In my talk on “German Beyond Its Native Speakers”, I attempted at decentering damaging ideologies in sociolinguistics and beyond. I showed that many people, scholars included, still consider that only so-called ‘native speakers’ are legitimate to talk about ‘their’ language. But in today’s multilingual and globalized societies, this does not work! To take an example, German speakers do not live in Cologne, Basel, or Graz only, but also in New York or Singapore—no matter whether they learnt German as children or adults. I argue that the inclusion of all types of speakers is not only needed ethically, but also theoretically: It has wide theoretical implications on how we do research.  

How did your talk resonate with the assembled audience? Did you get interesting questions? How was it to present your research to students from outside your discipline?

I really enjoyed presenting my findings to an interdisciplinary audience, and even more so to one consisting of students of so diverse backgrounds! Specifically in Leiden where English is used as a lingua franca, many people experienced first-hand the status of being a non ‘native speaker’ and how it may lead to discrimination. I was struck by how critical and passionate the audience was, and I feel that the talk maybe gave people some more theoretical arguments to fight for a more inclusive linguistic future.

How has the Austria Centre contributed to building community on Leiden's campus?

The Austria Centre is a hub for scholars from various disciplines—from geography to history, literature, linguistics, and philosophy—because it promotes a very inclusive understanding of what it means to ‘do Austrian studies’ nowadays.

To read more about Naomi Truan’s research, have a look at her latest paper in open access: Truan, Naomi, 2024. Whose language counts? Native speakerism and monolingual bias in language ideological research: Challenges and directions for further research. European Journal of Applied Linguistics

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