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Language Difference Terms

Language (as) activity

Language as activity refers to language as a human activity we use to do things in the world. When we talk about language as an activity, we focus on the practices we engage in through language in relation to our goals, modes of communication, particular times and places, and the people we use language to interact with.

Language difference

Language difference in our program refers to difference in people’s everyday language use as a norm or given. When we talk about language difference, we understand difference as a resource that we should embrace and investigate, not as a deficit or problem to be “fixed.”

World or global Englishes

World or global Englishes refers to different varieties of English and English-based languages developed and used in regions around the world. As with language difference, when we talk about global Englishes, we recognize diverse Englishes as linguistic and cultural resources that we call all learn from.


Translingualism is a way of understanding how people communicate across languages and cultural-linguistic situations, relying on our multiple language repertoires and evolving language practices. Because language activity is so complex, we use translingualism as one way to understand and make visible what happens when we are learning and communicating across different languages and language varieties, and as language and culture shape each other over time.

Translingual writing

Translingual writing is a way of understanding, teaching, and learning writing that recognizes linguistic differences in writing as a resource, not as errors that need to be corrected. When we practice a translingual writing approach, we accept that we come from diverse linguistic-cultural backgrounds and learn to recognize, name, and navigate the various language varieties and linguistic strategies that we bring into our thinking and writing.

Translingual communication

Like translingual writing, translingual communication is a way of understanding, teaching, and learning communication that recognizes cultural-linguistic differences in communication as a resource. Translingual communication includes translingual writing, and also extends to other modes of communication including but not limited to gestural (body language, hand gestures) and oral (spoken words).


Translation is the practice of converting meaning from one language to another. When we talk about translation in our program, we often refer to converting the meaning of written texts across languages.


Dialect is a form of language used in a particular place or by a particular group of people. When we talk about dialects in our program, we may refer to dialects in speaking and/or writing and how we use dialects in our everyday communication practices.

Writing in/for cultures

Writing in/for cultures is an everyday practice that requires us to recognize and respond to the particular cultures and communities that we write in and for. When we practice writing in/for cultures in ethically responsible and socially effective ways, we go beyond just saying that writing and culture influence each other, and use writing research to investigate and describe how writing, writers, cultures, communities, and languages influence each other and shape our ways of being and knowing in the world.

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