Translanguaging and translation: the construction of social difference across city spaces



Creese A, Blackledge A & Hu R (2018) Translanguaging and translation: the construction of social difference across city spaces. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 21 (7), pp. 841-852.

This paper considers the construction of social difference in the interactions of a couple as they communicate at home and work, with one another, their colleagues, and strangers in a superdiverse English city. In our linguistic ethnographic approach we observed, wrote field notes, audio-recorded key participants, took photographs, made video-recordings, and conducted interviews. We documented the role translanguaging and translation played and showed how these social practices varied across the city’s spatial realms as different kinds of relationships are brought into play. While the interactions can be thematically characterized as broadly about money, business, and commerce, they can also be said to draw on widely circulating discourses about social and linguistic difference. We found that the construction of difference varied qualitatively by the distance and intimacy of the relationships in play. We also found that a translanguaging repertoire was particularly evident in navigating sensitive cultural activities, attitudes and beliefs. This points to the usefulness of translanguaging to signpost an openness to, and interest in, social and linguistic diversity in the market place, where buying and selling are the order of the day.

Translanguaging; translation; superdiversity; spatial realms; social difference;

International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism: Volume 21, Issue 7

FundersUniversity of Birmingham
Publication date30/11/2018
Publication date online16/05/2017
Date accepted by journal16/05/2017

People (2)


Professor Adrian Blackledge
Professor Adrian Blackledge

Professor in Education, Education

Professor Angela Creese
Professor Angela Creese

Professor in Education, Education