Translanguaging in the contact zone

Translanguaging in the Contact Zone: Language Use in Superdiverse Urban Areas – Plenary by James Simpson at the 11th Language and Development Conference, 2015

James Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Language Education in the University of Leeds

James Simpson, Senior Lecturer in Language Education in the University of Leeds

Let’s translanguage: I’d come across the term before but never quite understood what it meant and I’d never heard of superdiversity. James Simpson clarified both terms and presented a study which was literally close to home for me: the study has looked at one specific superdiverse inner-city area in the North of England (Leeds), investigating evidence of language including the kind of conversations you hear and street signs you see in areas such as these. James showed how traditional waves of migration in the past have now been replaced by a tremendously varied, complex mosaic of different languages, a situation in which L1 and L2 no longer have any real meaning. It’s something I’d dimly noticed on my last trips back to the UK but without quite understanding what was happening on my own doorstep. The session showed how speakers of different languages translanguage using words from whichever language is the most convenient to communicate so that those languages are no longer anchored in one particular background. I’ll definitely be far more aware of translanguaging the next time I’m eavesdropping on fascinating, multilingual conversations on Yorkshire buses – as James said, the more you look, the more you find!

Watch plenary by James Simpson here:

Post by: Andy Keedwell
The writer is the Senior Academic Manager English Partnerships for British Council in East India

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