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Data Collection and Informants

This study employs a micro-sociolinguistic, qualitative approach with the semistructured interview as its data-gathering tool. The first author has previously outlined the benefit of employing a micro-sociolinguistic approach in the study of multilingualism (Verschik 2005). Research of this type compliments that undertaken in common macro-sociolinguistic approaches, as it helps produce a more nuanced picture of a phenomenon, shining a spotlight on micro-communities overlooked by macro-research and also seeking to uncover the ‘why’ to a speaker’s speech acts. This study employed semi-structured interviews to collect linguistic biographies, which is an approach to investigate the dynamics of language choice, linguistic preferences and competence in a multilingual individual (Verschik 2002).


The data were gathered by means of eight semi-structured interviews. Each informant was interviewed once in Estonian by the first named author and once in English by the second named author. This is because multilinguals are likely to produce different stories in different languages and reflect differently on their experience of growing up multilingual (Pavlenko 2007, 172). The interviews were conducted in a cafe in Tallinn, a ‘neutral’ location for both the researchers and participants, in September 2014. The participants were made aware of the research through mutual contacts, and three of them were known to one or both of the researchers prior to the study. In total, 5.7 h of interview audio were recorded and analysed. The recordings ranged in length from 30 min to 53 min, with a mean length of 43 min.

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