Defining Translinguality

Bruce Horner, Sara P. Alvarez


This article reviews the history of conflicting meanings for translinguality in composition studies, locating that history in the context of other competing terms for language difference with which translinguality is sometimes affiliated and competes, and conflicting definitions of these, and in the context of perceived changes to global communication technologies and migration patterns. It argues for approaching translinguality and the confusion surrounding it as evidence of an epistemological break and explains confusions as a response to the challenges such a break poses. It demonstrates the residual operation of monolingualist notions of language in arguments for “code-meshing,” “plurilinguality,” and “translanguaging” and outlines a labor perspective on translinguality that highlights the role played by the concrete labor of language use, as work, in sustaining and revising language as well as the social relations language contributes to (re)producing.


translinguality; plurilinguality; translanguaging; code-meshing; language commodification; labor theory of language

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