Translanguaging: a “Maximalist” Perspective

Talk by Mike Baynham (University of Leeds) and Tong King Lee  (University of Hong Kong)
Discussants: Li Wei, UCL; Elisabetta Adami, University of Leeds

There is a persistent difficulty noted since Whorf onwards in conceiving language dynamically as languaging, when the metalanguage is a language like English with its preference for “thingification”. The approach to translanguaging in our monograph Translation and Translanguaging could be termed maximalist. Inspired by Jakobson’s seminal work on translation (Jakobson 1959), we extend the construct beyond its initial focus on the deployment of two or more languages in the repertoire (interlingual translanguaging) to consider the deployment of registers and dialects (intralingual translanguaging) and other semiotic orders (intersemiotic translanguaging). While the interlingual and intralingual dimensions would still be quite recognizable to Jakobson, the intersemiotic focus has expanded exponentially over the last three decades, due to work in the visual/verbal/gestural/embodied in multimodal communication (cf Adami 2017) and in linguistic ethnography and ethnomethodology by such as Charles Goodwin (cf Goodwin 2001). We propose two other types of translanguaging going beyond Jakobson’s framework: interdiscursive translanguaging (in which what is being mediated in the repertoire are discourses rather than languages, dialects, registers or modes) and translanguaging at the language/body interface, informed by the recent work of Judith Butler (Butler 2015). We illustrate the discussion with data from the TLANG project and TK Lee’s research on experimental Chinese poetry.