"Creative Multilingualism: A Manifesto" (Open Book Publishers) explores the mutually enriching relationship between multilingualism and creativity.

"Multilingualism is fundamental to the human condition. We are all in some way multilingual - both in terms of talent and in terms of our daily ‘language lives’. Languages play a key role as a creative force in our thought and emotions, our expression and social interaction, and our activity in the world - languages are a creative force in how we live," as editors Katrin Kohl and Wen-chin Ouyang say in their introduction.

"Creative Multilingualism" is a manifesto. It calls for change on two fronts: First, language needs to be understood as intrinsically diverse - as languages. The entitlement of individuals and cultural groups to express themselves in their distinctive language must be supported as a fundamental human right, and must be nurtured as vital to the sustainability of the natural and cultural world.

And second, creativity needs to be understood as intrinsically bound up with our capacity for linguistically diverse thought, expression and action. Languages are far more than communicative ‘tools’: they are creative. Language diversity and creativity are mutually enriching.

This book presents research on creative multilingualism conducted across disciplines, from the humanities through to the social and natural sciences. It is structured as a manifesto, comprising ten major statements which are explored through various case studies. These case studies encompass areas including the rich relationship between language diversity and diversity of identity, thought and expression; the interaction between language diversity and biodiversity; the ‘prismatic’ unfolding of meaning in translation; the benefits of linguistic creativity in a classroom-setting; and the ingenuity underpinning ‘conlangs’ (‘constructed languages’) such as Tolkien’s Quenya and Sindarin, designed to give imagined peoples a distinctive medium capable of expressing their cultural identity.

Who is this book for?

Written in an accessible style, "Creative Multilingualism: A Manifesto" will appeal to anyone interested in languages, language learning, cultural exchange, the role of language diversity in our everyday lives, and the untapped creative potential of multilingualism.

"This book is a manifesto promoting language diversity as a human advantage and human right. As such, it is addressed to policymakers, especially in the field of education, but also more broadly with respect to multilingualism in our societies. Diversity of languages needs to be supported as a rich source of creativity in the arts, and recognized for its vital importance in the sciences," Katrin Kohl and Wen-chin Ouyang add.


Ten manifesto statements, ten book chapters

In their introduction, Katrin Kohl and Wen-chin Ouyang present the concept of creative multilingualism and highlight the relationship at the core of the book – that between language and creativity.

Chapter 1 (The Creative Power of Metaphor) explores how different languages give their speakers different perspectives on the world through the way metaphors shape even the most fundamental concepts, such as time.

Chapter 2 (Creating a Meaningful World: Nature in Name, Metaphor and Myth) uses the linguistic and cultural resources of the Ethno-ornithology World Atlas (EWA) and investigates the creative processes at work as linguistically diverse communities respond to the natural world through naming, metaphor and myth.

Chapter 3 (Not as ‘Foreign’ as You Think: Creating Bridges of Understanding across Languages) examens how speakers of one language manage to understand people speaking another (related) language, identifying strategies they use to create meaning in response to the ‘other language’ – and strategies with which they create barriers to understanding in order to preserve a distinctive identity.

Chapter 4 (A Breath of Fresh Air… Ivan Vyrypaev’s Oxygen) investigates interaction between languages in the performing arts – theatre, stand-up comedy, grime, rap, opera – and the types of creativity this generates in response to cultural contexts and audiences.

Chapter 5 (Multilingualism and Creativity in World Literature) explores multilingual literatures to critique current theories of world literature and investigates how drawing on more than one language in writing and reading generates new ways of seeing and understanding.

Chapter 6 (Prismatic Translation) develops an innovative theory of translation that captures its creative dimension. The metaphor of the ‘prism’ enables translation to be seen not in terms of functional equivalence but as a release of multiple signifying possibilities. 

Chapter 7 (Getting Creative in the Languages Classroom) considers creative alternatives to the prevalent emphasis on language learning for functional purposes, investigating the extent to which they may enhance foreign-language acquisition in schools and beyond.

Chapter 8 (Inspiring Language Learners) showcases work with schools in creative writing workshops, exploring the energy languages can bring to classroom work when they provide a context in which it’s OK just to have fun with languages, encourage experimentation with new expressive resources, and build confidence with linguistic diversity.

Chapter 9 (Languages at Work) looks at the role languages play in working contexts. It examines how increasing your linguistic flexibility and learning languages extend your communicative and cultural range in ways you can deploy for career purposes; and how glimpses of careers in which people use foreign languages tell us something about what makes languages valuable personally, culturally, professionally and financially – sometimes all at once.

Chapter 10 (Creating Languages) sets out on a journey of discovery, homing in on some key questions concerning the interplay between creativity and languages, finding out what motivates language inventors to create an artificial language such as Esperanto and equip mythical folk such as Elves and the Dothraki with distinctive languages. It further considers the extraordinary linguistic inventiveness that allows us to create and appreciate language play, such as puns.

This book is in English

Katrin Kohl and Wen-chin Ouyang: "We are passionately committed to promoting language diversity in research. It is therefore a severe shortcoming of our volume that it is currently available only in English — the language that threatens linguistic pluralism in our present world more than any other language. The pertinent contextual factors are (...). The chief practical impediment to multilingual dissemination is our staff capacity and budget since translation into many languages would vastly overstretch our resources. However, in order to enable and encourage dissemination in other languages, we are making the content of this volume freely available under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY) that permits translation without special permission so long as the original authors are appropriately credited. We would be delighted if our collaborative project inspired many other researchers to take up our ideas and extend their communicative possibilities in their own linguistic environment."

"The purpose of Creative Multilingualism is above all to provoke questions, stimulate discussion and allow the value and excitement of languages to be experienced live."


Editors: Katrin Kohl, Rajinder Dudrah, Andrew Gosler, Suzanne Graham, Martin Maiden, Wen-chin Ouyang and Matthew Reynolds

Authors: Katrin Kohl, Marianna Bolognesi, Ana Werkmann Horvat, Karen Park, Felice S. Wyndham, Andrew Gosler, John Fanshawe, Martin Maiden, Chiara Cappellaro, Aditi Lahiri, Rajinder Dudrah, Julie Curtis, Philip Ross Bullock, Noah Birksted-Breen, Matthew Reynolds, Sowon S. Park, Kate Clanchy, Suzanne Graham, Linda Fisher, Julia Hofweber, Heike Krüsemann, Jane Hiddleston, Laura Lonsdale, Chiara Cappellaro, Daniel Tyler-McTighe and Jonathan Black)

Theme: Multilingualism

Language: English

Publisher: Open Book Publishers

Year: 2020

Number of pages: 384

ISBN Paperback: 9781783749294

ISBN Hardback: 9781783749300

ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783749317

ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783749324

ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783749331

ISBN Digital (XML): 9781783749348µ

Available translations:

For more detailed information please visit the Open Book Publishers' website: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/1166

This book is an open access monograph available to download and read for free: https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0206


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