I came across a term in linguistics that I have never seen before called translanguaging. The definition provide was very dense and complex. Could some explain exactly what translanguaging is and please provide an example of it.

1 Answer 1


Translanguaging is defined as:

“the ability of multilingual speakers to shuttle between languages, treating the diverse languages that form their repertoire as an integrated system”

(Quoted from Tina Gunnarsson's presentation "Translanguaging: A review of flexible language use on students' learning of additional languages".)

In a sense, it's a system that leans towards treating your language abilities as not extensions of your L1, but as an integrated system that all works together. It seems like the digital equivalent of decentralising a network.

An example listed in the book chapter "Education, Multilingualism and Translanguaging in the 21st Century":

One of my students, an Oriya boy, married to a Tamil, speaking English at home, living in Calcutta in Bengali surroundings, where the children are brought up by a Hindustani ayah and a Nepali Gurkha security man.

In India, two languages are simply not enough. Furthermore, there is fuzziness of language boundaries and fluidity in language identity (Khubchandani, 1983. 2001). (Mohanty, 2000) has described the very different multilingual nature of India widespread bilingualism at the grassroots level; maintenance norms supported by the noncompeting roles of languages and their complementarities in the lives of people; the multiplicity of linguistic identities; and bilingualism as a positive force. Increasingly. this linguistic complexity characterizes the rest of the world, as translanguaging becomes the most important communicative tool in an increasingly multilingual world.

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