Our superdiverse, translingual world

diverse kidsI am an example of what the academic world refers to now as superdiversity, and in my everyday life I am also a member of the translanguaging community, but I am not special in any way. In fact, I am more the norm than the exception.

Superdiversity describes the increasing breaking down of the once typical ‘one nation, one culture, one language’ view of the world. I, like millions of others, was born in one country (Scotland), have a mother from another (Ireland), was educated in another (England), spent most of my professional life in another (Italy) and now live very happily in yet another (Spain). I do not identify myself with any single culture or country wholly, but see my ‘identity’ as being fluid, intricately linked to all of my experiences in all of these places.

In Spain, I ‘translanguage’ almost every day. My conversations with my Valencian girlfriend are a continual meshing of Spanish and English (with a little bit of Valencian!), and when we meet with our Italian friends for ‘copas’ we speak Spanish, English and Italian in equal measure. Sometimes it might be a word or a phrase from one of those languages, but equally it might be a story, an experience or an event, beginning in one language and then quickly interchanging with both the others. Often, we are unsure what language we are actually speaking or why we continually interchange between them! Perhaps, because it doesn’t matter, perhaps because language is only a resource, a vehicle, to communicate our thoughts and feelings, to bond more socially, and to become closer.

My question is, in this increasing superdiverse and translingual world, what is the future for interpreting and translation? When the source language ‘A’ is actually ‘A, B and quite a lot of C’, and when the target language is not just ‘B’ but might easily be ‘B’ with ‘a liberal amount of A and C’?

Alan Runcieman

Adjunct professor of interpreting and translation at UVic-UCC
Doctoral research at King's College, London, in the field of interpreting. I have been teaching Interpreting, language and intercultural communication for over 20 years.
Alan Runcieman

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Doctoral research at King's College, London, in the field of interpreting. I have been teaching Interpreting, language and intercultural communication for over 20 years.
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