Translingualism revisited : Language difference and hybridity in L2 writing

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-83
Journal / PublicationJournal of Second Language Writing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


Translingualism has become increasingly popular as a construct that captures the fluid nature of language(s) and writers’ ability to strategically draw from nonstandard language varieties, a practice referred to as “code-meshing.” This critical review reassesses the merits of translingualism in the context of L2 writing. While translingualism has blurred traditional boundaries between L1 and L2 writing, it remains unclear whether and how multilingual students would benefit from translingual pedagogy. Not only does translingualism appear to lack theoretical grounding in previous L2 writing research, scholars have also noted that students may be ill-equipped to engage in code-meshing if they lack proficiency in established varieties of the target language. In addition, it is uncertain whether code-meshing could contribute to more positive self-perceptions among multilingual students, as some practitioner-scholars have suggested. While recognizing code-meshing's appeal as a strategy of hybridity, this paper concludes that L2 writing educators should therefore avoid uncritically adopting translingual approaches. The paper also makes a significant contribution by considering the differences between spoken and written forms of self-presentation, an overlooked distinction in the debate on language difference. Further research should help determine whether students experience the need or desire to code-mesh and negotiate translingual identities as writers.

Research Area(s)

  • Authorial identity, Code-meshing, L2 writing, Register, Translingualism, Writing pedagogy

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