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2017 Conference - Translanguaging as a Queer practice
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This paper, which might also be entitled “What’s queer about translanguaging?” explores an increasingly visible construct in the study of multilingualism, translanguaging. Crucial to the notion of translanguaging is the idea of sociolinguistic repertoire as it entails a shift away from researching the relationship between languages towards a focus on how multilingual resources are deployed in a speaker’s repertoire. We will argue that when such language crossing comes up against monolingual language ideologies it has the potential to become othered, seen as transgressive of boundaries. This is the point at which we might ask in general terms whether there is something queer about translanguaging or whether it simply aligns with other transgressive, border defying language practices. In linguistic terms, if we take the repertoire construct as central to the understanding of translanguaging we can see any instance of translanguaging as a selection of options, for example from the multilingual resources available to a speaker. However it has become clear that translanguaging, although the term originated in a rethinking of the deployment of multilingual resources, can be productively applied to other varieties and modalities available in the sociolinguistic repertoire: register, multimodality, interdiscursivity and in fact we argue the language/body interface itself. We will develop the argument from our ongoing work on the role of translanguaging in the construction and representation of queer performativity, with illustrations from the plays of the Singaporean writer Alfian Sa’at and data on translanguaging in an interpreting events and sport from the TLANG project. The analysis presented will emphasize visual/verbal translanguaging and the language/body interface, showing how these satisfy the basic condition for translanguaging which we describe here: the cross-modal selection from a range of available semiotic options in a speaker’s repertoire. We will conclude by considering at least two different ways in which translanguaging can be thought of as queer.
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