Translanguaging and Multilingual Academic Literacies: How Do We Translate That into French? Should We? Pour en faire quoi ? (et pourquoi s'en faire?)

  • Guillaume Gentil


Translanguaging has become an inescapable notion in the anglophone literature on multilingual education. Questions thus arise as to whether and how it should be imported into francophone educational discourse, which has developed parallel vocabularies and orientations. The stakes are not only terminological — how to import a notion with ill-defined contours from one discursive universe to another — but pedagogical and political: what value could be added by the notion of translanguaging, either translated or borrowed as is, not only in addressing the needs of plurilingual writers who, like francophone educators, must reconceptualize English disciplinary discourses in another language, but also in creating more equitable conditions for the circulation of ideas across linguistic and national lines? To tackle these questions, this paper draws on two sources of insight: strategies for cross-lingual mediation developed in translation
and terminology studies, and lessons from the import of literacy into francophone discourse in the 1990s and 2000s. Existing uses and translations of translanguaging are then reviewed, and new translation equivalents proposed to render and clarify the multiple meanings of translanguaging and operationalize the notion in French. In keeping with a translanguaging approach, the paper translanguages about translanguaging, deepening our understanding of it through more than one linguistic lens.

Keywords: Translanguaging, translation and writing pedagogy, multilingual terminology, multilingual academic literacies, crosslingual reading and composing, international circulation of ideas