One of us generally begins his day in London (UK) in a mixture of Gujarati and Swahili while buying English language newspapers from his local newsagent who is of Indian origin but was brought up in Kenya. He then orders an espresso and discusses some of the football news in Italian with the owner of the Venetian café opposite, before going to the gym where a Colombian receptionist registers his entry in Spanish, and a Brazilian trainer takes him through the exercise routines in Portuguese. On his way to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London), he stops in at the bank where a Sikh teller processes his bills while extolling the virtues of having visited the holy Golden Temple during her last visit to Amritsar in Punjabi, India. The security guard at the university entrance gate checks his identity card while conversing in Polish, evoking the usual mixed response in Polish and English from our colleague. This multilingual start to the day continues for him at work given the large number of languages spoken by the staff and students at SOAS specifically, and London generally.
Similar examples of multilingual behavior have also been reported by others (e.g., Blommaert 2010; Edwards 1994; Holmes 1992). The basis for such behavior lies in the fact that most countries around the world are multilingual in terms of incorporating different languages in their territories and many ...