Polish shop(ping) as translanguaging space

Zhu Hua*, Li Wei, Agnieszka Lyons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


This article investigates how spatial layout, the display of goods, body movement and gaze work alongside verbalised linguistic codes in creating a Translanguaging Space, using data from a linguistic ethnography project in a family retail shop in East London. We argue that while positioning itself as a “Polski Sklep” (Polish shop) in London, the shop is a Translanguaging Space–a space created by Translanguaging practices and for Translanguaging practices–and Translanguaging involves the deployment and orchestration of various sense-making repertories beyond linguistic ones. We are particularly interested in showing how physical boundaries are played out and emphasised, together with multimodal resources, to mark the place as a Polish shop in London. We use the notion of communicative zones to analyse the connectivities whereby participants communicate with and involve each other in encounters, and examine how multimodal resources are orchestrated in communicative zones of service encounters, mobilised to interweave communicative zones and assembled in tune with the depth of involvement. We show a Translanguaging Space in the making in which participants, including the shop owners and the customers, orchestrate a variety of multilingual and multimodal resources without any a priori hierarchy to create a Polish shop in London, a space to experience Polish shopping in the diaspora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-433
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2017


  • Body movement
  • communicative zone
  • linguistic ethnography
  • positioning
  • service encounters
  • Translanguaging Space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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