by Piotr Wegorowski (Cardiff University)
The final conference of the TLANG project, which took place on 28 and 29 March, saw an array of thought provoking keynote presentations and a number of individual papers and panels. Amidst the busy and stimulating schedule there was one particular event that the whole TLANG team was proud of – it was the launch of The Routledge Handbook of Language and Superdiversity.
The volume, edited by Angela Creese and Adrian Blackledge, includes contributions from many team members. It contains 35 chapters, grouped in seven sections. Each section has two editors: a linguist and an expert in a specific subject area (language and superdiversity, superdiverse methodologies, heritage, sport, business, law, and education). This joint effort is a testament to the project’s commitment to interdisciplinary working and results in new/fresh/different perspectives which, as linguists, we would not necessarily be aware of. Featuring a total of 55 authors, the volume offers a wide scope of research on language and superdiversity.
Although published as a handbook, designed to provide an overview of the key topics in the area, the volume’s contributions offer cutting edge research, combining reflections on theoretical advances in the field with specific applications of a superdiversity lens in a given setting. Of particular importance is the Introduction, co-written by a large portion of the team, which provides a theoretical definition of superdiversity and summarises some of the key concepts central to our thinking about communication in superdiverse societies. The description of the TLANG Project and the significance of ethnographic work is also considered. As the authors note, “This is not a book about multilingualism. It is a book concerned with how people communicate in societies characterised by heightened social diversity and complexity” p. xxvii).
Notions of translanguaging, conviviality, interactional ritual, semiotic repertoires and everyday encounters central are central to the study of superdiversity and reappear in a number of contributions to the Handbook. Investigating settings as diverse as Britain, South Africa, the US, Spain, China, Australia, Bulgaria and Finland, the contributions consider a range of different communicative modes, include written legislation (chapter by Karen McAuliffe and Aleksandar Trklja), sign language (Christopher Stone and Gene Mirus), online communication (discussed for example by Jannis Androutsopoulos and Andreas Staehr, among others), and many others. Steven Vertovec, quoted at the back of the book, says of the Handbook that it “brings together some of the most thoughtful, innovative and cutting-edge discussions of developments in this exciting contemporary field.”
The book is dedicated to Marilyn Martin-Jones, who has inspired many generations of scholars in the area of multilingualism studies. Marilyn was presented a copy of the handbook at the launch event and we hope she will enjoy reading it. As we hope you will too!