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Whose Karate? Language and Cultural Learning in a Multilingual Karate Club in London

Zhu, H; Li, W; Jankowicz-Pytel, D; (2020) Whose Karate? Language and Cultural Learning in a Multilingual Karate Club in London. Applied Linguistics , 41 (1) pp. 52-83. 10.1093/applin/amz014. Green open access

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Abstract

This article explores language learning as a process of translanguaging and of cultural translation. We draw examples from a sociolinguistic ethnography of translanguaging practices in a karate club in east London, UK. Formulaic Japanese is taught as part of karate techniques, practised as the language of performance and rituals and valued as the key indicator of karate expertise over other languages. Key karate verbal routines such as osu and kiai, while linguistically difficult to translate, bespeak core karate values such as respect and confidence, and equally important, the embodiment of these verbal routines is well integrated into karate moves, breaking down the dichotomy of verbal and physical dimensions of the interaction. The predominant use of formulaic Japanese in rituals, along with other semiotic resources, creates an imagined karate world characterized by hierarchy and guarded through the value of respect. In examining whose karate and how cultural traditions, values and practices are translated and why, we broaden the concept of language and regard it as a multifaceted sense- and meaning-making resource and explore the theoretical implications of taking language teaching and learning as a process of cultural translation.

Type: Article
Title: Whose Karate? Language and Cultural Learning in a Multilingual Karate Club in London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/applin/amz014
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amz014
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10092293
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