This introduction situates the topic of the special issue – interaction in multilingual workplaces – in a historical context of international trade relations. It goes on to outline the research context of contemporary studies of workplace interaction. The methodological framework adopted in the studies is Conversation Analysis, a research tradition that does not have a very long history of studying multilingual interaction. We thus present and discuss the benefits and limitations of this approach to the special types of questions associated with issues such as language alternation, lingua franca usage and linguistic proficiency. Furthermore, we give an overview of the two strands of CA research that have emerged within the fields of second language acquisition (so-called CA-for-SLA) and multilingual communication. A fundamental requirement for CA research is to show that the phenomenon under scrutiny is oriented to by the parties to the interaction, and thus we provide two examples of how issues of language diversity are made relevant by participants engaged in workplace interaction.
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