WP226 The transformative limits of translanguaging

Collection: Key word


“Translanguaging” has in recent years become a popular term in socio- and applied linguistics. Originally used to refer to a pedagogy that encouraged the alternation of two languages to promote the acquisition of a minority language, the term has been substantially extended and now also applies to spontaneous language use, everyday cognitive processes as well as processes that transform individual subjectivities and unequal social structures. In this paper I argue that not only this profusion of meaning causes problems, but that translanguaging is likely to be less transformative and socially critical than is suggested. This is mainly because translanguaging research has more in common with the monolingual authorities it criticizes than it may seem, because it trades on causality effects that cannot be taken for granted, and because translanguaging, in some of its representations, is becoming a dominating rather than a liberating force. All this does not detract from the value of translanguaging research, nor from the importance of reconciling schools with linguistic diversity. But it may imply arguing this transformation from a different tack.