Translanguaging and named languages: Productive tension and desire

Marianne TURNER, Mei Yi Angel LIN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we address the epistemological conflict inherent in the relationship between named languages and translanguaging theory. Following with interest Turnbull’s (2016) reframing of foreign language education as bilingual education and García’s (2017) response, we see the logic of this reframing, but we also acknowledge García’s concern that the notion of deficit lies at the heart of language learning as it is commonly conceptualized, and this deficit construct sits uncomfortably within translanguaging epistemology. In the article, we draw on Bakhtin’s (1981) dialogical theory of language, Thibault’s (2011) distributed language view and the theoretical construct of desire as both a lack and an energy (Ahmed 2010) to suggest that the naming of languages needs to be incorporated into translanguaging theory in a way that acknowledges the social construct of ‘named languages’ as integral to the expansion of one’s linguistic repertoire as a whole. We make this suggestion in order to help develop translanguaging theory from a subaltern to a majority theory. We further suggest that language education can play a significant role in furthering the translanguaging project. Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-433
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Issue number4
Early online dateAug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Turner, M., & Lin, A. M. Y. (2020). Translanguaging and named languages: Productive tension and desire. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 23(4), 423-433.


  • Translanguaging
  • Foreign language education
  • Bilingual education
  • Majority languages


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