Translanguaging and the body



Blackledge A & Creese A (2017) Translanguaging and the body. International Journal of Multilingualism, 14 (3), pp. 250-268.

This article reports communicative interactions with a focus on the body as a dimension of the semiotic repertoire. The research context is a four-year, multi-site linguistic ethnography which investigates how people communicate in superdiverse cities in the UK. In the setting of a butcher’s stall in a city market we consider three interactions at a particular market stall between butchers and their customers. In the first, gesture is deployed as a resource by both an English butcher’s assistant and his customer. In the second, we examine the body as a resource in the semiotic repertoire of a Chinese butcher as he negotiates a faux haggling interaction with East European customers. In the third example, also recorded as field notes, a Chinese woman employs a ‘Chinese’ gesture to represent the number of pieces of offal she wishes to purchase from an English butcher’s assistant. Each of the examples was recorded during an extended period of ethnographic field work in Birmingham Bull Ring market. Through detailed analysis of these interactions we argue that when people’s biographical and linguistic histories barely overlap, they translanguage through the deployment of wide-ranging semiotic repertoires.

Translanguaging; semiotic repertoire; gesture; markets; superdiversity; body;

International Journal of Multilingualism: Volume 14, Issue 3

FundersArts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online17/04/2017
Date accepted by journal02/04/2017

People (2)


Professor Adrian Blackledge
Professor Adrian Blackledge

Professor in Education, Education

Professor Angela Creese
Professor Angela Creese

Professor in Education, Education