Towards a sociolinguistics of superdiversity


Creese A & Blackledge A (2010) Towards a sociolinguistics of superdiversity. Zeitschrift fur Erziehungswissenschaft, 13 (4), pp. 549-572.

The notion of 'superdiversity' has engaged scholars beyond the field of sociolinguistics. In this paper we propose to shift the gaze to the linguistic, focusing on the ways in which the new diversity becomes the site of negotiations over linguistic resources, and to widen the scope of debate. The ways in which people negotiate access to resources in increasingly diverse societies are changing. Looking at these phenomena through a sociolinguistic lens is key to a developed understanding of superdiverse societies. García proposes the term 'translanguaging' to refer to the multiple discursive practices in which multilingual speakers engage in order to make sense of their worlds. Translanguaging goes beyond code-switching, but incorporates it. García points out that multilinguals translanguage to include and facilitate communication with others, but also to construct deeper understandings. Translanguaging includes but extends what others have called language use and language contact among multilinguals. Rather than focusing on the language itself, translanguaging makes it apparent that there are no clear-cut boundaries between the languages of bilinguals. This paper draws on sociolinguistic ethnographic research projects which investigate the linguistic practices of children and young people in and around complementary (community-language) schools, to argue that multilingual young people in English cities access a wide range of semiotic resources in ways which are not bounded as 'languages'. In developing a sociolinguistics of superdiversity we should look closely at practices of translanguaging, and consider the histories, geographies, and discourses which shape them.

Linguistic ethnography; orders of indexicality; sociolinguistics; superdiversity; translanguaging;

Zeitschrift fur Erziehungswissenschaft: Volume 13, Issue 4

FundersUniversity of Birmingham
Publication date31/12/2010
Publication date online15/12/2010