Abstract The expanding orientations to translingualism are motivated by a gradual shift from the structuralist paradigm that has been treated as foundational in modern linguistics. Structuralism encouraged scholars to consider language, like other social constructs, as organized as a self-defining and closed structure, set apart from spatiotemporal ‘context’ (which included diverse considerations such as history, geography, politics, and society). Translingualism calls for a shift from these structuralist assumptions to consider more mobile, expansive, situated, and holistic practices. In this article, I articulate how a poststructuralist paradigm might help us theorize and practice translingualism according to a spatial orientation that embeds communication in space and time, considering all resources as working together as an assemblage in shaping meaning. I illustrate from my ongoing research with international STEM scholars in a Midwestern American university to theorize how translingualism will redefine the role of constructs such as language, non-verbal artifacts, and context in communicative proficiency. Translingual practice—in its many guises as translanguaging, plurilingualism, or metrolingualism—has contributed significantly to our understanding of verbal resources in communicative practice (see Canagarajah 2013 for an extended discussion of these labels). Challenging traditional understandings of language relationships in multilingualism, which postulates languages maintaining their separate structures and identities even in contact, translingualism looks at verbal resources as interacting synergistically to generate new grammars and meanings, beyond their separate structures. According to this definition, the prefix ‘trans’ indexes a way of looking at communicative practices as transcending autonomous languages. In recent years, scholars have expanded the ramifications of this definition. An emergent second definition focuses on the need to transcend verbal resources and consider how other semiotic resources and modalities also participate in communication. Block (2014: 54), for example, has critiqued what he calls the ‘lingual bias’ that predisposes linguists to treat only words as primary in communication or deserving analytical focus. Yet another approach focuses on transcending the text/context distinction and analyzing how diverse semiotic features previously relegated to spatiotemporal context actively participate in communication (Blommaert 2013; Pennycook and Otsuji 2015). A fourth meaning that is becoming significant is how semiotic resources transform social structures (Li and Zhu 2013). In this case, ‘trans’ indexes ‘transformation’ and challenges understandings of language as regulated or determined by existing contexts of power relations. One way to understand these expanding orientations is that they are motivated by a gradual shift from the structuralist paradigm that has been treated as foundational in modern linguistics (see special topic issue of this journal on poststructuralism, vol.33/5, 2012). Though structuralism is an expansive movement, I refer here to the way it has been taken up in linguistics, following the seminal work of de Saussure (see Harland 2010). Structuralism motivated linguists to consider language as organized as a self-defining and closed structure. From this perspective, other modalities of communication were separated from language, maintaining their own structures. Furthermore, linguistic structure was set apart from spatiotemporal ‘context’ (which included diverse considerations such as history, geography, politics, culture, and society). As Hymes (1971) has observed, Chomsky took structuralism further in a cognitive and individualized direction. The language structure was provided a mental locus, treating the grammar as internalized, and providing a representational system of meaning-making for the speakers. Though such approaches define language as value-free and abstract, certain ideologies subtly enter through the unproblematized ‘context’. In dominant approaches, context was treated as a container of language, framed as domains such as speech community or nation-state. These constructs territorialized and essentialized language, providing ownership to certain groups of speakers and/or their lands. The meanings of ‘trans’ that I have reviewed above call for a shift from the above assumptions to consider more mobile, expansive, situated, and holistic practices. However, the connection between structuralism and translingualism needs to be explored further to theorize the analytical benefits of the new paradigm. This examination would help us identify new possibilities inherent in translingualism. I articulate below how moving beyond structuralism might help us theorize and practice translingualism differently. Though such an orientation is implicit in earlier theorizations and analyses of translingualism, it has not been sufficiently taken up for critical examination. The Case for Space Challenging the structuralist paradigm, scholars are becoming more sensitive to space as a more expansive framework for explaining communicative and social life. Developing from the findings in theoretical physics (Barad 2007; Coole and Frost 2010) on the agentive and vitalist potential of physical nature, the spatial orientation is gaining thoughtful uptake in other disciplines as well. Scholars in applied linguistics, such as those in posthumanism (Pennycook 2016), mobility studies (Blommaert 2010), linguistic landscapes (Shohamy and Gorter 2008), and literacy (Kell 2010), have been influenced by a spatial orientation. Spatiality is everything that a structuralist orientation has tried to avoid, as theorization of scholars in human geography (see Soja 2011; Massey 2005) points out. Situating communicative interactions in space and time accommodates diversity and unpredictability. Conceiving of language and other human activities as abstract and autonomous structures, however, tends to favor homogeneity, normativity, and control. Structures are abstracted from the messiness of material life and social practice. In making structures fundamental and generative, structuralism imposes order and control over material life. When structures are interpreted as located in the mind (as Chomsky did), they also feed into the Cartesian bias of mind over matter. Treating spatiality as significant means understanding every practice as situated, holistic, networked, mediated, and ecological, thus integrated with diverse conditions, resources, and participants. Spatiality does not mean that we abandon all considerations of order, pattern, or norms, but reformulate them beyond abstract, homogeneous, and closed structures. Since space was understood traditionally as dead matter to be shaped by human cognition and language, we have to redefine space according to emerging understandings. Though structuralist linguistics did acknowledge space, materiality, and environment, it treated them as passive, inert, static, and pliant. A spatial orientation treats them as active, generative, and agentive. Space is emerging as a holistic construct that includes geography, history, and society. We can summarize the extensive theoretical discourses for our purposes as follows (see Thrift 2007; Barad 2007; Massey 2005; Soja 2011; Coole and Frost 2010): Space is vitalist, not dead. In this sense, it is self-generating and self-regulating, with things shaping each other and other beings, including humans. While spatiality shapes social life, people shape the material environment. If place is space ascribed with social meaning and shaping, as in bounded constructs, such as nations, communities, and cities, we must also hold places in dynamic tension with space as an expansive material construct, providing possibilities for reconstruction. Space includes time, with both acting together, as in Bakhtin’s (1986) notion of chronotopes, which encourages us to consider them as interacting, layered, and dynamic. As human exceptionalism is questioned, spatiality adopts a ‘flat ontology’ (Marston et al 2005) that appreciates the ecological interconnection of all things and beings. It does not predefine any particular category as more dominant and significant before situated analysis. Spatiality helps consider how multiple resources mediate and co-construct activities as an ‘assemblage’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987; Latour 2005). As the power of mind over matter/nature is questioned, cognition is understood as distributed across bodies, objects, and social networks, calling for distributed practice in thinking and communicating (Thrift 2007; Wilson and Golonka 2013). Such an orientation to communication as an assemblage has been anticipated in applied linguistics. Early scholars in the field have questioned the relegation of space and time into insignificant ‘context’ and encouraged a more expansive orientation to semiotic resources, though their models were somewhat different from that developed in this article. Highlighting what he calls the ‘the neglected situation’, Goffman (1964: 134) has urged linguists to problematize context and unveil the features that mediate communication. Context gets treated in ‘the most happy-go-lucky way’, in an ‘opportunistic’ fashion; ‘an implication is that social situations do not have properties and a structure of their own but merely mark, as it were, the geometric intersection of actors making talk and actors bearing particular social attributes’. Silverstein (1985: 220) has similarly encouraged analysts to attend to ‘the total linguistic fact, the datum for a science of language is irreducibly dialectic in nature. It is an unstable mutual interaction of meaningful sign forms, contextualised to situations of interested human use and mediated by the fact of cultural ideology’. For the spatial orientation, the ‘total linguistic fact’ involves sign forms beyond verbal resources, as articulated in the expansive definitions of translanguaging. Ideally, such an approach would mean that we reexamine the text/context distinction and consider how features we may have treated as part of context may constitute an assemblage that is integral to meanings and communication. In this article, I discuss how translingual practice might be understood according to a spatial orientation. Though this is primarily a conceptual article that outlines the changes in our understanding of language, non-verbal semiotic resources, context, and competence, I illustrate from my ongoing research with international Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) scholars in a Midwestern American university. The data consist of the following: interviews on the language attitudes and communicative practices of 24 Chinese scholars; research practices and communication of a South Korean postdoctoral research fellow in Molecular Biology (whom I will call Jihun1); literacy practices of a Turkish doctoral student in Entomology (Gunter); and video recordings of four 1-hour episodes of classroom instruction of two Chinese Math teaching assistants.2 The communicative practices of the Korean and Turkish scholars have been studied through video observation, discourse-based interviews, and photographic documentation, accompanied by a textual analysis of multiple drafts of published articles and other written genres. These studies aimed at understanding the participants’ multilingual and polysemiotic practices, and ongoing learning/socialization into professional communication. An attempt was made to understand their communication and proficiency in their situated—that is social and spatial—contexts without unduly imposing the disciplinary frameworks of applied linguists. Beyond Language to Spatial Repertoires As we shift to a spatial orientation, we have to abandon the traditional notion of separately structured languages. Words are mobile signifiers located in space and time. How they gain meaning and grammatical status is explained by the processes of indexicality (Agha 2003). This depends on how people put words to use in situated activity in specific locations. Indexicality is a spatiotemporal process, as meanings sediment over time to develop grammatical status and norms. However, these norms have to be kept open to change as words participate with other semiotic assemblages to construct meaning. This orientation has many implications for language proficiency. To begin with, one might not have proficiency in the whole of a language (including what we might consider an advanced or even a basic proficiency in the ‘underlying’ grammatical structure) and still be able to perform meaningful activities using that language. Though my interviewees acknowledged that they would not claim grammatical proficiency in English, they were confident in communicating in professional contexts. Many of them mentioned that while they were fluent in their academic and professional communication, it was in nonacademic genres and contexts, such as casual conversations in bars or campus corridors, that they found the most difficulty. Consider the claim of a scholar in astronomy: CM: The good thing is that- it’s- astronomy is a very narrow field, only- not so many words, totally that thousand of words is enough. Like black holes, everybody know that. @@, the mass, the units. So when you talk about something, even if it’s not clear enough, we know each other. And also, because you are writing papers, people already know your ideas, or your point, so even before you talking with each other, I can guess what the people- what the other people are going to say. @@. So when we discuss, we always have to say ‘well, what’s your current/prediction for this object? What’s your current theory? What’s any—is there any progress in your model?’ So it’s—the thing is the conference in English is always good enough to do something. Ehm, yeah. But sometimes the difficulty maybe come from the daily life, for example, when I have to find a lawyer or find something, a lot of words I don’t know, I don’t understand, even never heard about that. So that’s simply the most difficult thing. [Chunguang Mao; Male; Postdoc in Astronomy and Astrophysics]3 Note that Chunguang attributes his confidence to the mastery of his disciplinary register, despite his difficulty in having a conversation with a lawyer on an everyday need. This claim was confirmed in my observation and recording of the Korean research associate. Jihun demonstrated idiomatic problems in casual conversation, such as when he said on multiple occasions that he was ‘caught by a cold’ when he could not show up for an interview. However, as I will demonstrate below, his writing for disciplinary purposes was very advanced. He was the lead author of a publication whose early drafts were grammatically well formed. This inconsistency can be explained in many ways. One possibility is that these STEM scholars have participated in shaping and sharing the indexicality of words relevant for their field, though they have not engaged extensively in casual interactions to develop the repertoires of everyday genres. I found that Jihun had mastered the English for scientific purposes already in Korea, before he migrated to the USA. Because that language is shared by scholars from diverse nationalities for disciplinary communication, Jihun had engaged in developing the indexicals required for his work. He had developed this proficiency through professional activity in Korea and the USA, not formal learning. STEM scholars are able to use these indexicals decoupled from the rest of the language structure because they find their coherence in spatial locations in particular activities. Blommaert (2010: 23) labels this ability to use selective words and grammars from languages for specific activities as ‘truncated multilingualism’. (Note that this term is biased towards considering whole language as the norm. The construct I introduce below, ‘spatial repertoires’, will accommodate the possibility of selective verbal resources being sufficient for communicative purposes in situated interactions, in combination with other semiotic resources.) Similarly, participants were able to use words from diverse languages for accomplishing their communicative purposes. Jihun mentioned that his professional activity involved shuttling between Korean and English constantly. He mentally planned his research articles in Korean and wrote them in English. He discussed some English academic publications and experimental findings with a Korean colleague in Korea, and wrote about them in English. Even if the final draft of Jihun’s published article is in ‘standard written English’, he has shuttled between Korean and English in various interactions and stages of the writing process in shaping this final product. What the spatial orientation means is that the labeled language structures do not necessarily constrain one’s situated professional activity. They combine in making activities possible. This was confirmed by my interviewees. Li Sun [Visiting scholar in Industrial Science] mentioned that she wrote certain drafts first in Chinese before translating them into English closer to submission. Chao Li [Postdoc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology] mentioned that he took notes on readings and discussions in Chinese or a mix of languages though the source was in English. Bits and pieces of words and grammatical structures from diverse languages work together for these participants because these communicative resources find coherence in terms of the spatial ecology, not necessarily in terms of the grammatical structure. Since activity is the frame of reference, not the bounded grammatical structure, it is possible to understand how diverse languages in the spatial ecology facilitate communication. As we will see in the next section, multimodal resources also combined with verbal resources to facilitate situated communication. From this perspective, language works with an assemblage of semiotic resources, artifacts, and environmental affordances in specific settings to facilitate communicative success. To accommodate these configurations of communicative resources that go together in particular activities, some scholars have adopted the term ‘spatial repertoires’. Pennycook and Otsuji (2015: 83) define spatial repertoires as: ‘link[ing] the repertoires formed through individual life trajectories to the particular places in which these linguistic resources are deployed’ (emphasis added). I would modify this slightly to move spatial repertoires beyond the methodological individualism, human agency, and verbal resources the definition favors. Spatial repertoires may not be brought already to the activity by the individual but assembled in situ, and in collaboration with others, in the manner of distributed practice. These repertoires may not be part of one’s existing proficiency. I would expand the repertoires beyond the linguistic to include all possible semioticized resources. I would also spatialize these repertoires more completely by treating them as embedded in the material ecology and facilitated by social networks. Spatial repertoires are an alternative to grammar in analyzing meaning making and communicative success. I will demonstrate below the diverse resources that serve my participants in different communicative activities. All this is not to deny that there are languages called Korean or English. This possibility is also explained by indexicality. At a limited scale of consideration, certain words index certain places and communities, and develop identities as distinctly labeled or territorialized languages. Indexicals sediment over time to gain an identity as belonging to one language or the other, with a specific grammatical status in that language. Language ideologies further give identity to a collection of words as belonging to Korean or English. However, such structures or labels do not constrain people from drawing from all of them to accomplish their activities in practice, giving new meanings and identities to these words, as translingual scholars theorize. From Multimodality to Assemblage One of the reasons my research participants were confident about professional communication, despite their limited proficiency in English grammar is that their communicative activity involved diverse other semiotic resources beyond words in their communication. They cited using gestures, visuals, ‘body language’, and modalities such as PowerPoint and blackboard that mediated their words. The significant role of visual and bodily resources was confirmed in a video recording of Chinese Math TA Tan’s classroom instruction. As we applied linguists viewed the teaching, we found his speech difficult to understand. The following is an example of his speech: [00: 14: 36.11] TAN: i think that fluids might be a good example. if we consider a pipe and we have some- some fluids inside. so we have a (velocity) field. so if we call this (velocity) field as <PAUSING TO WRITE> conservative vector field or irrotational vector field, that means, if we consider- (a regular) section, then, there would be no (.) rotation of thisfield, so this- th- this th- of the- of thisfluid. thisfluid will go along the tide and there is no- no turn shows thisfluid will go rotation inside. ok, (that's) just a glance of thisirrotational vector field. we will talk about that in the section about thisStoke's theorem (later). The transcripts confirmed that Tan did not have an extensive English vocabulary or complex syntactic structures as part of his personal repertoire. There were also many pauses and hesitations in his speech. What he used mostly were deictics such as here/there and this/that (as underlined above). A count of all the transcripts from his recordings also proved the preponderance of these deictics. In addition to the deictics, he used technical words such as irrotational, vector, and velocity, as italicized above. However, the students in the class did not seem to have any problems following the lecture, as our second video camera for student uptake proved. Their periodic interjections to clarify matters, note-taking, and rapport suggested that they were following the instruction very well. A discourse-based interview with a more experienced native-speaker TA, Adam, suggested the reason for Tan’s communicative success, despite what we perceived as his grammatical limitations. Adam’s immediate response as the video clip started playing was: ‘This guy’s boardwork is excellent. Some instructors might talk more clearly and fluently. But if their boardwork is poor, the talk doesn’t help at all. One of our Chinese professors doesn’t speak much, but because her boardwork is good, we like her teaching a lot’ (12 January 2016). What the notion of boardwork implied was that Math instructors and students were not focusing on speech in isolation from the other spatial repertoires, as we applied linguists were doing in our analysis. What mattered to them was the embodied activity of boardwork. In fact, language can get in the way of teaching. A consideration of the whole embodied activity suggested why Tan’s teaching was successful and effective. In teaching Stoke’s Theorem, and attempting to illustrate the curl, Tan first draws a pipe, with arrows for liquid flowing through. Then he draws a cross-section to examine if the water is flowing straight or in curls. He also waves his hands and fingers to demonstrate water flowing without and with curls to clarify the point about conservative vectors. As he makes the point, he also reaches further left on the board to underline the words curl, irrotational, and conservative that he had introduced earlier. Thus he draws the attention of students and makes connections to points he had made previously. Since the visuals and gestures are communicatively very functional, Tan did not have to verbally describe many of these concepts and processes. The preponderant deictics played a crucial role in pointing to relevant information. There were other semiotic resources that facilitated this effective teaching. In contrastively facing the board or facing the students as he taught, Tan indexed teaching math and doing math, respectively. In the former, he was focused on demonstrating how he thought through problems and developed solutions as a math professional. When he faced the students, he made himself available for questions and explicated concepts. His posture suggested shifting between identities and activities. Analyzing videos of the same TA from a CA perspective, Looney et al (2017) demonstrate that words such as ‘okay’ and ‘so’ are self-talk that indexed the TAs’ activity of doing math by thinking to themselves and organizing their activity. In fact, often writing on the board preceded talking about it. For example, Tan wrote a matrix first, ruminated on it silently (and perhaps compelled the students to think along with him), before he explained or commented on them. It is possible that writing and visuals help in thinking, as a form of ‘thinking with your hands’ (Van Compernolle and Williams 2011), where gestures facilitate thinking. Furthermore, Tan shuttled between the pronouns ‘we’ and ‘you’. ‘We’ indexed dong math together, and ‘you’ indexed making space for student questions or feedback. What this example illustrates is that the non-verbal resources are not a supplement to talk or thinking. They mediate and shape language use. Applied linguists who address these resources as ‘multimodality’ have traditionally treated gestures, visuals, and other paralinguistic resources as compensatory—that is resources that help when language is not adequate for the purpose. Consider the orientation of the Douglas Fir Group (2016: 29): ‘Nonlinguistic, multimodal semiotic resources are used to make the coupling of a form and a meaning socially available during unfolding interactions. They are not peripheral or complementary to language learning. Instead, they provide crucial social cues to grammar’. Though the authors give considerable importance to non-verbal resources, it is evident that they are treated as providing ‘social cues’ to grammar, which can presumably work on its own. What the practice of the math TAs suggests is that the diverse semiotic resources work together as an assemblage, without the possibility of separating them. Language is considered inefficient and insufficient by itself for the successful outcome of the activity. We might even say that the preponderance of deixis suggests that in certain activities the TAs treat language as indexing the meanings of other non-verbal resources to facilitate understanding. The notion of assemblage helps to consider how diverse semiotic resources play a collaborative role as a spatial repertoire in accounting for the success of this activity, when language is not predefined as the sole, superior, or separate medium of consideration. Assemblage corrects the orientation to non-verbal resources in scholars addressing ‘multimodality’. From the perspective of assemblage, semiotic resources are not organized into separate modes. To think so is to fall into structuralist thinking. According to assemblage, all modalities, including language, work together and shape each other in communication. Some sociolinguists and conversation analysts have made remarkable strides in adopting such a perspective to interactional analysis—see Mondada (2014) and Streek (2013), for example. However, in focusing on the resources evident in the immediate setting, they differ from the spatial orientation which accommodates meanings and influences from expansive spatiotemporal scales, as I will demonstrate below. There are other differences from studies in multimodal analysis. Semiotic resources can be agentive, shaping human cognition and communication. Traditional multimodal approaches have treated objects and the human body as orchestrated by the human mind. Spatial approaches encourage a rethinking of human agency. Consider how an artifact, a visual model of over wintering of bees in an article by Gunter (a doctoral candidate in Entomology, from Turkey), shaped his thinking and communication in dramatic ways. Gunter started his manuscript as a review article to examine how existing studies explained why bee stocks depleted in successive winters, which affected brood numbers for pollination. Though he ends up reading around 100 articles, prodded on by his advisor who is also a co-author, tracking new publications and questions as he writes, his conclusion is somewhat broad. A very advanced draft states: Overwintering in honey bees is a complex process, which integrates multiple environmental cues, social cues and interactions within the colony, and physiological and molecular changes in individual bees. Using the available information, we have developed a model which explains how the entry, maintenance and exit from overwintering may be regulated by these factors, but further studies are necessary to comprehensively test this model by uncoupling and individually testing these factors, many of which are closely correlated (2 June 2015). At this point, what he terms a ‘model’ is only verbally articulated in the preceding pages. However, his adviser suggests that he develop a visual representation of his findings. Gunter’s attempts illustrate the limits of human agency and mental representation. I have examined seven renditions of his visualization. Though he has formed a mental picture from his reading, representing it visually becomes a challenge. Initially, his visuals do not seem to index his mental representation well. Gunter realizes that this is not a cognitive problem but a prosthetic one. That is, he lacks the physical abilities and material resources to render his knowledge in a satisfactory model. He sees the need to complement his mind and body with instruments that might become an extension of him to represent his knowledge. Consider an early representation in Figure 1 below: Figure 1: View largeDownload slide Overwintering bees early visual Figure 1: View largeDownload slide Overwintering bees early visual He mentions his dissatisfaction with his attempt in an interview: ‘I couldn't figure out how to make curved arrows with normal lines. Thus, used these terrible things instead’ (INT, 16 April 2016). He eventually gets help from a technician in his laboratory who has better skills and computer resources for modeling. What emerges is not just an elegant model, but one that projects a different cause/effect relationship than Gunter had originally envisioned. Consider the final representation included in the publication in Figure 2 below: Figure 2: View largeDownload slide Overwintering bees final visual Figure 2: View largeDownload slide Overwintering bees final visual Note that this model distinguishes developments inside and outside the bee nest. It projects not just a temporal sequence of processes but a cause/effect relationship. The visual projects two pheromones—that is reduced brood pheromone and increased forager pheromone—as leading to the slowed maturation of winter bees. The empirical studies he reviewed do not make this causal connection or provide an integration of the various factors and stages in the overwintering process of bees. Also, the visual projects its own representation that differs from Gunter’s earlier mental picture. It forces Gunter to revise his understanding of the overwintering process. Gunter says in a discourse-based interview: Drawing this thing made me rethink my explanation. The problem was I was trying to put it in a mechanical explanation while drawing it. Those arrows are not just arrows, they are directional. They are talking about inductions and inhibitions of things. You can see reduced brood pheromones is causing reduced foraging. These are all causal relationships and not just temporal relationships. So once you start thinking about those […] I was like, well does it, and how does it? … There were a couple of times we took things out and changed them a little. Because it stopped making sense once you put it on the figure. You see that it doesn’t make sense. It made sense when I said it, but once you see it all together it doesn’t, so you change things. (INT, 16 April 2016) In addition to the agency of the visual object, the process of drawing it and seeing it on the page changed Gunter’s thinking. In this sense, this communicative activity is performative, not representational. As he proceeds with his research, this artifact begins to play a central role in his scholarship. Future writings, research, and presentations are shaped by this visual, as it provides him a hypothesis that he chooses to explore for his doctorate. In one of his poster presentations in a conference, Gunter circles the two pheromones in red to show their centrality. Based on this hypothesis, he also subsequently writes a successful grant application to test the role of these two pheromones. What we find is that the visual model does not simply convey preconstructed ideas or supplement words but is itself agentive in shaping thinking and communication. Other applied linguists studying scientific interactions have also pointed to the significance of material and social networks that mediate language and thinking (see Ochs et al 1996; McNamara 1997). To summarize the implications of the spatial orientation, consider the following differences from dominant approaches to multimodality: Multimodality studies treat human agents as having the power to deploy semiotic resources as they will for their purposes; spatial orientation theorizes that objects in the environment also shape human actors. In multimodality studies, there is a tendency to invoke and interpret the predefined values, meanings, and structures of each modality separately; spatial orientation treats meaning as emergent in relation to the diverse assemblages as an ‘ensemble’ (Kress 2009) that shapes each other. Multimodal studies explain semiotic resources as indexing and motivated by cognitive representations; spatial orientation considers resources as performative, generating meanings in activity. From this perspective, though there are significant developments in applied linguistics to accommodate more expansive semiotic resources (as cited earlier), we have to be alert to the differences between the spatial orientation and alternate approaches. From Context to Scales My research with STEM scholars also problematizes the traditional orientation to ‘context’ in structuralist linguistics. As other scholars have pointed out (see Blommaert et al 2017), context is often treated as distinct from grammar/text; monolithic (i.e. not differentiating diverse spatial, temporal, and social scales); and of secondary relevance to linguistic analysis. Some applied linguists have articulated a more dynamic orientation to context, demonstrating how it is emergent and co-constructed by language (Duranti and Goodwin 1992; Goodwin 2000; Hanks 2006). A spatial orientation develops an even more complex understanding of how semiotic resources work in relation to spatiotemporal conditions. To begin with, my findings suggest that STEM scholars treat the boundary between text and context as permeable. As the example of Jihun’s writing practice below will show, the monolithic term context is inadequate to accommodate the diverse factors that mediate and shape language. Diverse features traditionally relegated to context are part of text or talk. They constitute spatial repertoires that people use to accomplish their communicative activities. Consider the composition of a research article Jihun had published as the first author. The 30 different drafts I analyzed at different stages of development suggested the way in which the published article of Jihun was a complex assemblage of spatial repertoires. To begin with, a range of participants, multimodal resources, and artifacts from different networks and spatial ecologies went into the construction of the text. At a local spatial scale, his collaborator was the senior professor of his laboratory and Principal Investigator in the grant he was working on, Nick. Both came from the Department of Biochemistry. A second junior faculty member from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Mohan, was also an active member of this research group and played an important role in shaping the text. These three scholars worked closely on the manuscript, with many rounds of readings, commenting, and revisions. Though Jihun took the lead in composing the drafts, the other two shaped the ideas and words in deep and pervasive ways. The in-text comments show contributions such as the following: suggesting more relevant references; interpretation of experiment; designing additional experiments; providing better wording or phrasing; strategizing style, wording, or presentation of data for actual and potential reviewers; responding to referees; and clarifying ideas through conversations in research group meetings (RGMs). In many cases, the other two collaborators not only posed questions and suggestions but wrote chunks of text that Jihun directly embedded in the draft. Beyond these three, there were seven others who made additional contributions, though they were not involved in face-to-face interactions during the writing or in conversations in the RGMs. Beyond these 10 named as authors, there were 9 others who are acknowledged in the end of the article. Some of these scholars also provided texts and images that are embedded in the article. At a more distant spatial and temporal scale of contribution, they conducted different sections of the experiment, provided raw materials, chemicals and instruments for the study, analyzed the data, or provided technical assistance. Many of them are from departments and laboratories that are different from Jihun’s. Three are from other universities. How their institutional and departmental affiliations relate in this collaboration finds clearer representation in Figure 3. Those whose names are bolded and underlined are the named authors. Table 1: Shifts from structuralist to spatial orientation Structuralist Spatial • Predefined meanings Indexicality • Whole language Truncated multilingualism • Grammar Spatial repertoires • Communication Activity • Agency of humans Agency of things • Cognition Embodiment • Hierarchy Flat ontology • Multimodality Assemblage • Text/context binary Entextualization • Methodological individualism Distributed practice • Metaphysics of presence Spatiotemporal scales • Discrete contexts Layered simultaneity • Representational thinking Performativity/bricolage • Contextual shaping Spatial transformation • Competence Emplacement • Arboreal development Rhizomatic development Structuralist Spatial • Predefined meanings Indexicality • Whole language Truncated multilingualism • Grammar Spatial repertoires • Communication Activity • Agency of humans Agency of things • Cognition Embodiment • Hierarchy Flat ontology • Multimodality Assemblage • Text/context binary Entextualization • Methodological individualism Distributed practice • Metaphysics of presence Spatiotemporal scales • Discrete contexts Layered simultaneity • Representational thinking Performativity/bricolage • Contextual shaping Spatial transformation • Competence Emplacement • Arboreal development Rhizomatic development Figure 3: View largeDownload slide Jihun’s social networks Figure 3: View largeDownload slide Jihun’s social networks As we can see, there are different social networks Jihun is tapping into to put together this text. Rather than being mere ‘context’, these networks account for the assemblage that is the text. Such social networks and resources go beyond simply mediating the text Jihun is constructing. The words, figures, ideas, research findings, and suggestions of those in the networks are literally embedded in the evolving text, almost forming a tapestry of many voices. The term entextualization indexes how social, spatial, and material resources come together in the assemblage of texts (Kell 2010). Though some of the texts, images, and figures belong to other research projects, isolated from Jihun’s context, they get entextualized into a new and coherent whole in Jihun’s published article. As we open up context to analyze these social networks and spatial repertoires that constitute the text, we have to reconsider authorship. Though Jihun is the first author, he mentioned that this naming convention does not reflect authorship as much as signals who took the lead in designing the experiment and putting together the drafts. That Nick’s name is last indexes his authority as the Principal Investigator (with Mohan’s name coming in front of him to signal his critical contribution). That at least six of those named as authors played no direct role in the writing or revising of the draft also compels us to understand authorship differently. The collaboration and critical contribution by others suggest that this article is an emergence of distributed practice. Anyone going through the serial drafts will see that it is not Jihun’s thinking, words, or communication that account for this text. As they pass around the drafts, the participants are generating new ideas, interpreting findings, conducting new research, and developing the product collaboratively. The ideas and words emerge between and across the social networks. Jihun is merely keeping record of everything that is emerging in his drafting process. This finding undercuts the methodological individualism that informs much linguistic research, which treats the individual as the locus of proficiency and speech. There are implications for the cognition and mental representation that informs this textual product. We can postulate that the text is an emergence of distributed practice that involves the thinking and language of multiple parties, not to mention the artifacts, texts, and resources that also shape their thinking and communication. Though I set up a video camera close to Jihun’s laboratory computer to record his writing practices, it quickly became apparent that his writing went beyond this immediate setting. Or perhaps we can say that the text and its features indexed other social, temporal, and geographical contexts beyond what was captured by the video camera. For example, an important site of negotiations of this article was a few rooms away from the laboratory where Jihun, Mohan, Nick, and a couple of rotating graduate students (joining for apprenticeship purposes) held their RGMs. Swales (2004) studies RGM as an important genre of academic communication in its own right. In the embedded comments in the drafts, Nick or Mohan sometimes say that they should discuss a point more elaborately before revising the matter. I then videotaped the RGM’s to see how participants reviewed figures and images from the experiment on a monitor placed centrally in the room, to interpret them closely and formulate their arguments. Notes from these conversations are recorded by Jihun in his notebook and help him revise the draft subsequently. These oral conversations are also entextualized in the published article, though there might not be actual linguistic evidence in the finished product. Some texts, images, and artifacts come from miles away. While Jihun was composing, he takes a phone call to a colleague in another laboratory to clarify some issues about some results. In another situation, he consults a Korean colleague in Korea about a reference he needs through Iphone text messages. This is done through texting him in Korean. The colleague provides information on a published English article and discusses relevant findings in Korean. In such cases, Korean sources get entextualized into an article published in English. The publication is also shaped by raw materials, chemicals, DNA, instruments, and results of related experiments run by others beyond his own laboratory and outside the experiment and writing managed by Jihun. Some were prepared or conducted long before Jihun’s own study or writing. What such expansive and layered spatiotemporal contexts suggest is the limitations of treating face-to-face interactions and empirically evident contextual features as the unit of analysis in applied linguistics. This is a lingering influence of a metaphysics of presence (Derrida 1973) which has been discussed much in philosophy. As we open up the monolithic and passive notion of ‘context’, we see that it contains not only expansive social, temporal, and spatial networks but that features from these domains are agentive. They shape the text in significant ways, consistent with the notion of an assemblage. As the monolithic and static notion of context is inadequate to address such dynamic relations between texts and contexts, some scholars are adopting a more layered, relational, and multifaceted metaphor of scales for language analysis (see Canagarajah and De Costa 2016). We also find that these diverse scales of influence are embedded in the text as a tapestry of layered simultaneity (Blommaert 2005: 237). This orientation to transcending the text/context binary by accommodating resources across space and time as shaping meaning is the third definition of translingualism mentioned above. From Representationalism to Performativity How do we characterize the process undertaken by Jihun in entextualizing these expansive spatial repertoires in his article? In interviews, Jihun mentioned that he considered himself an ‘organizer’ rather than a ‘communicator’ (INT. 11 June 2016). That is, he considered his writing process as a pragmatic and physical activity of assembling relevant resources for the article. In this sense, the writing resembled bricolage. Consider that his first draft simply constituted the images and figures relating to the experiment. He said that his typical writing involved shaping the article around the main results of his study, as captured through photographs and electromagnetic images. These visuals were mostly cut and pasted from files saved in his computer earlier or downloaded from those sent by his colleagues. In a discourse-based interview, Jihun also showed me an article that he said was ‘fundamental’ to his own article (INT. 11 June 2016), as it reported on extracting cellulose from a different raw material. As the experiment involved similar procedures, he said that he used that article as the template and even borrowed phrases and terms for his own article. Some phrases, section headings, title, and sequence closely resemble that article. Such bricolage in the writing process was also facilitated by a strategic configuring of the space and objects in Jihun’s workspace. The video recording shows that, as Jihun composes, he switches between screens to borrow texts from other published articles and research resources. Since research procedures were fairly standardized, in many cases Jihun cut and pasted texts from other publications that he pulled up in other windows. He mentioned that this textual borrowing explained why his early drafts had different fonts (presumably influenced by fonts from other texts. This practice of textual borrowing is now widely documented in STEM literacy research (see, for example, Flowerdew 2007)). This is not necessarily plagiarism, as the texts are entextualized into a new whole and recontextualized for the purpose. Sometimes Jihun borrowed from print articles. His writing space was set up strategically with a stack of printed publications next to his computer. He shuttled back and forth between the computer and the printed articles to borrow phrases and words. Also, in his windows, he had a bilingual Korean/English dictionary always available. He toggled between these screens to translate words and phrases as he wrote. Such bricolage calls for a reconsideration of representationalism in structuralist notions of competence. That is, one does not start with a picture in the mind or the required words for accurately representing those ideas and images on the page. The resources that are assembled generate the ideas and words for the publication in situated interactions. Such bricolage is an example of ‘nonrepresentational thinking’ and a performativity that orientate to doing as generative of thinking and communicating, or processes rather than ideas as generative of meanings (see further Thrift 2007). As we can see above, efficient bricolage involved strategically organizing the spatiotemporal resources, so that Jihun could draw from them effectively. That these scholars’ thinking and communicating were shaped by material and spatial resources does not mean that they lacked agency. In other cases, the participants used verbal resources strategically to construct new empowering spaces in the workplace, exploiting the layering of place and space. Though they are working in a US university, which might be considered as treating Anglo American native speaker varieties of English as the norm, the participants found spaces to use their first languages or their localized varieties of English in many places. Chinese scholars mentioned that in laboratories or offices they would switch to Chinese to indicate that they would like to have the conversation in their first language if they had their co-nationals as a majority: S: Uhm, so I don’t know how to define the workplace. So in- like, you know if uh, it’s like in a public (place), you know we have a few group meeting, you know, a few students, so then we talk with uh- in English. But if the individual meeting, you know, then like with the students in my office, sometimes we just use Chinese. It’s easier to uh understanding. [Sencun Zhu; Male; Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering] Sencun finds it difficult to define the ‘workplace’ because it is layered with diverse spaces for discourses and identities that defy homogeneous norms. Another scholar mentioned that his supervisors and advisors were themselves multilingual speakers—that is one was Irish, another Taiwanese, and the third Chinese. Therefore, they were tolerant in using their local varieties of English and negotiating meanings with each other by drawing from other spatial repertoires. In adopting such practices, they were using verbal resources to redefine the work context into more inclusive spaces where diverse and alternate language norms were admissible. Since space is expansive, it provides resources for participants to construct alternate spaces within bounded and hegemonic places, to suit their interests. This orientation suggests the transformative potential of spatial repertoires, as defined in the fourth definition of translingualism. The diverse languages used in the interactions of STEM scholars are somewhat resistant in the context of the monolingual policies that are dominant in American universities. These scholars have been tested—sometimes repeatedly—on TOEFL, IELTS, and local university assessments for their English language proficiency. Often their appointments in American universities are dependent on these scores. Such examinations and policies convey the understanding that English is the language of the workplace and ensures success in the STEM professions. The translingual practice of the international scholars suggests that they appreciate the value of language diversity and subtly act against dominant policies and discourses. Even though the lack of diverse languages in the publications in high stakes contexts suggests international scholars satisfying dominant norms, we must not forget that the earlier drafts, notes, and revision interactions involve translingual resources, suggesting their value in generating the finished products. Though such translingual practices occur in safe and protected sites, away from surveillance or high stakes interactions, we must not underestimate their transformative potential to diversifying the workplace or pluralizing high stake activities in the long term. From Competence to Emplacement To summarize the discussion so far, in accomplishing communicative activities, my participants draw from diverse verbal resources (beyond labeled languages); from semiotic resources that can be agentive in shaping communication; adopting distributed practice that involves collaborating with a network of social agents, objects, and bodies in layered spatiotemporal scales; all of which constitute an assemblage of situated and emergent spatial repertoires. These repertoires are not representational but performative. Rather than coming loaded with values and meanings, they generate meanings in situated use. I can summarize the shifts involved from a structuralist to a spatial orientation to translingualism as follows in Table 1, in the order they have been introduced in this article: Addressing translingualism from this broader spatial perspective has many ramifications for how we conceive of a competence to engage in translanguaging. I will articulate two major implications deriving from a spatial orientation—that is competence as emplacement, and proficiency development as rhizomatic. From a spatial orientation, communicative proficiency involves the ability to align diverse semiotic and spatial resources for successful activity. Along with the flat ontology of assemblage, it holds that all resources have to be brought together for successful communication. Also, beyond giving primacy to the mind, it posits that the body and material objects facilitate thinking. The notion of ‘alignment’ has enjoyed some currency in the sociocognitive orientation in applied linguistics to suggest the mind-body-world connection involved in meaning construction and language learning. It is defined as: ‘“the complex means by which human beings effect coordinated interaction, and maintain that interaction in dynamically adaptive ways” (Atkinson et al 2007: 169)’. This is a useful metaphor, as it suggests that meaning and cognitive representations are not predefined but emergent through such alignment. It also suggests that one can never come ready for communicative activity with all the required grammars and codes. One has to undertake the alignment of diverse resources and contextual conditions for meaning. In this manner, the construct has the potential to index the nonrepresentational orientation developed in this article. However, in available studies, alignment has been used in ways that differ from the spatial paradigm articulated above. Though other languages are part of the context of language learning and shown as mediating the learning process, the authors typically focus on competence for one language at a time, isolating competence to a single language structure (see Atkinson et al 2007; Nishino and Atkinson 2015). Also, despite the mediation of the body and objects, cognition is given importance in orchestrating this alignment and individuals are the frame of reference, falling into the trap of methodological individualism. Mind appears to enjoy more power in orchestrating and benefitting from the alignment, though the body and material resources are treated as mediating the work of the mind. Note in the definition above that human beings are given agency in ‘effecting’ this coordination. It provides agency for humans to do this alignment without fully analyzing the agentive work of others (including artifacts) in the spatial ecology. Similarly, learning is accounted for primarily in terms of grammar and cognition, though they are mediated by diverse material, social, and bodily affordances. The analysis of interactions is also influenced by ametaphysics of presence, prioritizing the influences that are locally visible. The methodology is defined as ‘focus[ing] on highly contingent, moment-to-moment attunement of writer and ecosocial environment, yielding a richly detailed analysis of multimodal interaction’ (Nishino and Atkinson 2015: 42). Though sensitive to multimodality, the sequential analysis focuses on the face to face and local. In adopting these orientations, the treatment of alignment eventually fails to transcend some of the limitations of the structuralist paradigm. Another metaphor that accommodates the spatial orientation better is emplacement (adopted by scholars in rhetoric: Pigg 2014; Rickert 2013). Indexing the necessity for individuals to situate themselves in the spatial ecology, not only to align the diverse resources but also to be shaped by them, emplacement accommodates the qualified agency of human beings. It gives more importance to the body in drawing from the ecological affordances for meaning-making processes. Emplacement is more a physical activity than mental, as competence has been traditionally theorized. The word ‘emplacement’ is suitably more passive in formulation, indexing the possibility that communication and cognition are shaped by the agency of material and spatial features. This construct is more open to drawing from all spatial repertoires equally for a translingual ability. However, emplacement is not completely deterministic. Communication is not a case of people and meanings completely determined by things and space. One’s emplacement can be strategic, responsive, and creative, as we found in the case of Tan and Jihun above. They draw from all the resources in their environment to make up for their grammatical limitations. Spatial repertoires are affordances for resourceful communication through strategic emplacement. One can also resist the territorialized norms of bounded places by constructing alternate spaces that accommodate diversity, as claimed by my Chinese interview respondents. Emplacement can accommodate a qualified human agency, while it gives spatial resources and semiotic repertoires considerable significance in meaning construction. Conceiving of competence as emplacement also posits a different directionality for language development. Structuralist-influenced Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research has been motivated by figuring out the trajectory or sequence of grammar learning in accounting for competence. Much research has involved finding out the basic or elementary grammatical structures that should precede the acquisition of more advanced structures for cumulative acquisition (see early work on morpheme order studies, for example, Dulay et al 1982). Similarly, casual conversation is considered easier to begin with, compared to writing and specialized/professional/institutionalized communication. These assumptions posit an arboreal metaphor of structural development (as theorized by Deleuze and Guattari 1987). It is as if communication involves forming strong grammatical roots before growing trunks and branches of pragmatics, literacy, and discourse. The progression is linear and causal, from roots to the branches and flowers or fruits. Furthermore, the roots are subterranean, analogous to the invisible mind (the Chomskyan ‘language acquisition device’) in relation to the visible material life. Such assumptions are embedded in the langue/parole or competence/performance distinctions which treat the underlying cognitive competence as shaping social and material practice. The practice and claims of the STEM scholars suggest the possibility of nonlinear language development. They demonstrate proficiency in their specialized disciplinary registers before casual genres; in writing before speaking; and bits and pieces of verbal resources from different languages before their ‘underlying’ or ‘basic’ grammatical structures. A metaphor that might describe their nonlinear proficiency development is the poststructuralist metaphor of rhizomes. Rhizomes have multiple roots; the roots and the branches are indistinguishable; the roots might be above ground; and each part of the plant can become a root for new growth. A ginger root might be a good example of rhizomes, as the multiple roots and the body are indistinguishable. Rhizomes suggest a different starting point for learning and proficiency, complicating the competence/performance distinction. Performance in a specific register of a labeled language for communicative activity in isolation from the full or ‘basic’ knowledge of that language is not only possible, it might motivate additional learning or even development of other verbal resources. Such performance with a small collection of verbal resources from a language does not have to make one’s language capacity suspect, as these resources work with other semiotic resources to gain their coherence and meaning. Furthermore, other features of a spatial repertoire, such as using artifacts or gestures can also facilitate language development. Complicating the sole or primary role given to cognition and grammar as in structuralist understanding of ‘competence’, rhizomes diversify the direction and bases of language development. Thus rhizomes favor a performative orientation to meaning-making rather than relying on preconstructed cognitive or grammatical representation. Meaning and thinking can emerge at many different points of the rhizome, in the liminal spaces of body, objects, and spatial resources. This metaphor captures the proficiency and learning of the STEM scholars much better. Conclusion To conclude, this article demonstrates that there is more to the paradigm shift of translingualism than accommodating more diverse verbal resources in communicative practice or in one’s proficiency. To appreciate these larger implications, we have to move beyond the foundational structuralist orientation in linguistics. In adopting a spatial orientation, we realize that translingualism accommodates communicative practices that include more expansive spatial repertoires that transcend text/context distinctions and transgress social boundaries. To consider how communication works in this fashion, we have to also treat meaning making ability as distributed, accommodating the role of social networks, things, and bodies, beyond mind and grammar, requiring strategic emplacement. As we adopt a spatial orientation to translanguaging, we confront new methodological and analytical questions. To begin with, we have to consider how to define the unit and focus of analysis when a flat ontology assumes that everything is connected to everything else (see for a discussion, Canagarajah 2017). Though we have to adopt pragmatic boundaries (or ‘cuts’) on the unit of analysis and selectively focus on the semiotic resources playing a more significant role in a communicative activity, we have to consider how we can keep other contexts and resources as part of the analysis. Admittedly, the choice of resources and meanings I have discussed in the case studies above are selective. For example, I have not discussed the role of time too extensively in this analysis. I have focused on the spatial resources that emerged as more significant in each activity. Therefore, we have to make these analytical cuts based on a strong rationale, generating more complex interpretations. Another limitation in my approach is that, for practical reasons, my data gathering has been circumscribed to bounded settings. We might need multi-sited data gathering as we consider the semiotic resources from expansive and layered times and places that shape communicative activities. Moving from the currently dominant methodological individualism and metaphysics of presence in applied linguistics research will require creative new methods for data collection and analysis. These questions will be explored further, as we continue to adopt a spatial orientation to translingualism. Notes Footnotes 1 All names are pseudonyms. 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