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The Emergence of a Literary Translingual Practice in Contact Studies
Translingualism is an emergent term, which is becoming widespread in academia, but is still in need of fuller definition and of being distinguished from other terms with which it overlaps. This article uses the term translingualism to refer to texts, which use more than one language in interactive ways, emphasising the dynamic, fluid and generative qualities in texts, which cross cultural and linguistic borders and boundaries. The methodological approach used in this article integrates literary studies with findings in linguistics and language contact, since its objective is to understand the way languages in situations of contact influence each other in texts in transformative and interactive ways, rather than merely co-existing in the same diglossic space. This approach involves a text-focused interpretive method, which I define as a literary translingual practice (LTP). It focuses on the ways linguistic elements are exchanged between or synthesised from two or more linguistic systems. It also explores the ways texts in contact create linguistic and aesthetic innovations that produce a new type of literary text, which defies homogenous language systems or dominant discourses. A tentative definition of the translingual, whose purpose is to make clear the differences to similar-sounding terms, which are often used indiscriminately, is followed by a wide range of examples of translingual writing from different genres, cultures and language combinations. Without claiming to provide definitive or final answers, this article’s overall goal is to move forward an understanding of translingualism, its scope and its transformative force.
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