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Communicating in superdiverse cities

Date: 05/12/2013

Linguistics researchers will study public and private interactions in four of the UK's cities which use multiple languages, for example Welsh, Polish or Urdu, to help policy-makers better understand how to communicate with people across different languages and cultures.

Globalisation and changing patterns of migration mean that ‘superdiverse’ cities are increasingly populated by speakers of multiple languages. The research will generate new knowledge about communication in changing urban communities and communicate these to policy-makers and communities locally, nationally, and internationally.

The four-year research project, Translation and Translanguaging: Investigating Linguistic and Cultural Transformations in Superdiverse Wards in Four UK Cities, is funded by the AHRC under the Translating Cultures theme, and is led by the MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism at the University of Birmingham, in collaboration with Cardiff University, Birkbeck (University of London) and the University of Leeds.

The Principal Investigator of the project, Professor Angela Creese, said: The research will make a significant contribution to knowledge about the potential of multilingualism as a resource for communication, creativity, and civic participation.

Co-investigator and project lead at Cardiff, Dr Frances Rock said: It is crucial that language researchers engage with pressing social issues in a constructive and empowering way and this project aims to meet that ambition. We anticipate that the project will change academic and public understandings of multilingual interactions in ways which will have long-term benefits for a wide range of constituents.

The research team will conduct detailed linguistic ethnographic investigations in selected wards in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, and London. They will focus on multilingual interactions between people in contexts of business, legal advice, community sport, libraries, and museums. Analysis will provide detailed evidence of how people communicate across languages and cultures.

The interdisciplinary project will involve academic researchers from a broad range of subject areas, including Business and Entrepreneurship, Cultural Heritage, Education, Law, Sociolinguistics, Forensic Linguistics, Sport and Exercise Sciences, and Social Policy.

It will be run in collaboration with partners from private, public, and third sectors, including Migrants' Rights Network, Business in the Community, Law Centres Network, Sporting Equals, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The project will also benefit from the expertise of international specialists in multilingualism and superdiversity.

Professor Charles Forsdick, Leadership Fellow for the AHRC's Translating Cultures theme said: The award will provide an urgently needed contribution, from an Arts and Humanities perspective, to our understanding of some of the most pressing issues in the twenty-first-century. The aim of the project is to interrogate, analyse and demonstrate the central place of languages and culture in contemporary life. The project will transform academic and public understanding of the theories and practices of translation and interpreting in innovative, exciting and, I anticipate, often unexpected ways.

For further information, please contact: Alex Pryce, AHRC: 01793 416025 a.pryce@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes for Editors

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.  www.ahrc.ac.uk
  • Find out more about the Translation and Translanguaging project.


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