Ordinary English amongst Muslim communities in South and Central Asia

Brook Bolander, Shaila Sultana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper adopts a transglossic approach to explore the ordinariness of English amongst Muslim communities in South and Central Asia. It thereby maintains that studying English as an ordinary part of these communities’ repertoires is contingent upon an approach to religion as situated, discursive, and interactive. This approach to religion is key to avoiding a paradoxical treatment of religion and language that critically examines the meaning of language without interrogating religion in the same manner. To this end, the paper uses examples from ethnographic face-to-face and online fieldwork amongst Muslim communities in Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Bangladesh to explore and rethink the relationship between religion and language. The paper concludes that religion is co-constructed and emergent in, across, and through English and other languages and semiotic resources. English is rendered ordinary in the sense that it is employed and invoked to perform religious identity in interlocutors’ everyday language practices. It is thereby used to engage in processes of positioning, and emerges as a resource that is simultaneously translocal and polyvocal, while also locally meaningful in its situated practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-174
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • English
  • ethnography
  • ordinariness
  • Religion
  • South and Central Asia
  • transglossic

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