Translate New Haven


Translate New Haven is a new initiative in applied language studies at Yale, encouraging us to imagine a more multilingual New Haven through translation of the English that is visible and audible in public spaces into other languages. The project builds upon the idea of linguistic landscape where, everyday, people see with their own eyes “what languages are prominent and valued” by their society, and take in silent lessons about “the social positioning of people who identify with particular languages” (Dagenais et al., 2009). Translate New Haven asks us not just to consider, but also to consider doing something about, the visibility of more languages in the city.  

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How to  participate

Translate New Haven is imagined as an experimental, open, and supported project space within which any number of initiatives involving translation, dialog, and critical reflection on visible multilingualism can take place. Students, faculty, and staff at Yale and other schools in the New Haven area, as well as interested community members, are all welcome to participate.

You can participate immediately through various social media channels: specific translation ideas and photos of New Haven signs can be posted and discussed on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #translateNHV, or through the Translate New Haven Facebook page

School-based class projects and activities can be developed at points of intersection between specific curricular needs and broader linguistic, cultural, social and historical questions; please see the following section for recommendations. 

Resources for language  teachers

The potential of translation, community-based learning, and multiliteracies approaches for the development of key second/world/heritage language (L2) competencies is recognized more and more in professional discourse today, yet realizing this potential in classroom practice is often difficult. Translate New Haven seeks to capitalize on the interdependency of language as a meaning-making system and the real-world venues, activities and events where language takes place, in order to push students’ agentive and self-reflexive growth. Please see the More links and resources section below for further readings on these motivations and goals in L2 education.

Depending on curricular goals and available resources, students’ level, age and interests, as well as a host of other variables, classroom applications may range from a single 20-minute activity, to a day’s lesson, to a two-week unit, to an ongoing project that spans semesters. Click here to see a sample schematic overview of a several-day Spanish-language project in which teams of students are hypothetically commissioned by the city to design and visualize a city block in which the linguistic landscape is translated into Spanish. Other possibilities include: 

  • The creation of multiform texts with written, audio, or visual translations of existing elements in New Haven’s linguistic landscape; 
  • Reflective commentaries and annotations of the above; 
  • Interviews, walking tours, and/or investigations with local residents, community stakeholders, and visitors to New Haven;
  • Artistic re-imaginings of language and place, neighborhoods or spaces of the city; 
  • Novel maps of New Haven’s linguistic and cultural landscapes

To discuss ideas, project design, and implementation, please contact David Malinowski, Language Technology and Research Specialist ( (link sends e-mail), 203-436-5797).


June 2016 translation  challenge

New Haven’s annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas, with its 16 days of performing arts, lectures, cultural tours and conversation events, presents a rich opportunity to experiment with translation in the city as a form of civic participation and re-imagination. In the spirit of the festival, you can use the citizen-government communications platform SeeClickFix to submit an “Issue Report” to the city through the end of June in order to: 

  1. Identify signs that you think should be translated into another language;
  2. Suggest a translation into another language; 
  3. Discuss and vote for others’ translations

Activity will be highlighted on Translate New Haven social media using the hashtag #translateNHV

For instructions on how to get involved, please see this quick guide.

More links and  resources