This 4-year (2014-2018) research project known as TLANG was a collaboration between academic researchers, non-academic partners, and community stakeholders. It was also a partnership between six UK universities and the private, public, and third sectors.
The interdisciplinary research programme developed new understandings of multilingual interaction in cities in the UK, and communicated these to policy-makers and communities locally, nationally, and internationally.
The project was funded as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Translating Cultures theme.
The aim of the TLANG project was to understand how people communicate across diverse languages and cultures. When people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds come into contact they translate, and they translanguage. We define ‘translation’ as the negotiation of meaning using different modes (spoken/written/ visual/gestural) where speakers have different proficiencies in a range of languages and varieties. When speakers do not share a common language they may rely on translation by professionals, friends or family, or by digital means. Such practices occur in ‘translation zones’, and are at the cutting edge of communicative interaction. We view ‘cultures’ not as fixed sets of practices essential to ethnic groups, but rather as processes which change and which may be negotiable. In our observations in four cities we found speakers are not confined to using languages separately, but rather they ‘translanguage’, making the best use of all available communicative resources.
We looked closely and over time at language practices in public and private settings in four different research sites in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, and London and investigated how communication occurs (or fails) when people bring different histories and languages into contact. Find out more about our methodology.
TLANG engaged with a number of different participants in relation to its work on multilingualism in society including arts and heritage organisations, community and advocacy groups, educational institutions, and political representatives. We formed international partnerships with many different groups and individuals, particularly through its international summer school, network assemblies and academic conferences. Find out more about our collaborations.