Translanguaging and Hybrid Spaces: Boundaries and beyond in North Central Arnhem Land

  • Jill VaughanEmail author
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 28)


This chapter explores how speakers in Maningrida, a linguistically diverse Indigenous community in northern Australia, negotiate and evaluate their language practices within ‘hybrid spaces’ (i.e. spaces shaped by the interaction of diverse groups, institutions and ways of speaking). The analysis draws on data from two settings – a public school event, and a football match – and I consider the ways in which a translanguaging lens may provide insights into the interactional and socio-psychological realities of lived multilingualism in Maningrida. The major focus of the chapter pertains to Burarra/English mixing. I discuss the nature and functions of this language practice, and note that while speakers appear to ‘soft assemble’ their linguistic resources to fit the communicative situation at hand, there are also observable constraints exerted by the morphosyntax of the contributing codes. This practice are situated against the backdrop of long-standing multilingualism and language ideologies in the Arnhem Land region. The chapter evaluates translanguaging as a possible useful addition to the nomenclatural and analytical toolbox of researchers in the Australian Indigenous context, and as an important step towards decolonising understandings of local language practice, and further provides critiques and suggestions for strengthening the model’s descriptive potential.


Translanguaging Indigenous Australia Burarra Hybrid space Language ideology 



Sincere thanks to Maningrida community, and especially to Abigail Carter, Doreen Jinggarrabarra, Cindy Jin-marabynana, Rebecca Baker, Joseph Diddo, Alistair James, Stanley Djalarra Rankin, Mason Scholes and Jessie Webb. Thanks also to Margaret Carew, Felicity Meakins, Ruth Singer, Rebecca Green and Gillian Wigglesworth for their helpful conversations, to two anonymous reviewers for their time and their most constructive insights, and to Gerardo Mazzaferro for initiating this volume. This work has been funded since 2015 by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (C.I. Felicity Meakins, University of Queensland), the Linguistic Complexity in the Individual and Society project (C.I. Terje Lohndal) at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology, and a University of Melbourne Early Career Researcher Grant (C.I. Jill Vaughan).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and LiteratureNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Research Unit for Indigenous LanguageUniversity of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia

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