Accepted paper:

Translanguaging as community building: linguistic identity and ideology at a College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto


Gregory Poole (Doshisha University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the everyday practice of translanguaging at a department of liberal arts in Kyoto. Ethnographic data reveal how identities and ideologies of the community members are constructed by everyday communicative practices.

Paper long abstract:

This chapter examines the everyday practice of translanguaging at a department of liberal arts in Kyoto, an undergraduate college of rich linguistic diversity. The two hundred students enrolled in the bachelor of arts program as a group boast a collective linguistic repertoire of over three dozen "named" languages and dialects, a resource with which the social life of the community is negotiated and transformed daily. Over a five-month period, four members of this linguistic community-- three students (Salem Young, Anh Đỗ Ngọc, and Shinnosuke Taguchi) together with one faculty member (Greg Poole)-- collaborated on a linguistic ethnography of participant observation, informal interviews, and audio recordings to collect a broad set of spoken data, a corpus that was then transcribed for microanalysis of linguistic features. Our approach follows a Hymesian SPEAKING methodology (1972); as "indigenous" ethnographers we exploited our insider status in order to investigate how the community members employ their linguistic resources and modalities in the various spaces and zones of translanguaging both on and off the Kyoto campus. Underpinning this ethnographic work is the understanding that communicative practices in everyday college life in Japan embody a multilingualism that is not merely the pluralization of monolingualism (Pennycook 2010), but rather demonstrates a translanguaging that deploys a speaker's full linguistic repertoire without necessarily focusing on politically-defined boundaries of "named" languages (Otheguy, Garcia, Reed 2015). We were especially interested to discover that linguistic identities and ideologies of the community members are constructed, and deconstructed, by the everyday communicative practices we observed and recorded. This fluid identity construction-- situationally dependent on the formal and informal settings and scenes of the translingual speech events-- reflects both a deliberate and unconscious presentation of the language repertoires performed by the social actors (Goffman 1959). Whilst not always following boundaries of national citizenship and "named" languages, translanguaging nevertheless exposes linguistic and educational disparity within the community of students and teachers.

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