3.1 SOCIOLINGUISTICS AND POWER
Is access to "standard English"empowerment, as Honey (1997) claims? Or do we create an "undifferentiated Other" when we argue as Honey does?
3.1.1 Liberal Sociolinguistics
Access to standard English and/or acknowledgement of alternatives?
Giroux (1983: 229)'s criticism on liberal sociolinguistics
To argue that working-class language practices are just as rule-governed as standard English usage and practice may be true, but to suggest at the same time that all cultures are equal is to forget that subordinate groups are often denied access to the power, knowledge, and resources that allow them to lead self-determined existences.
Henry Giroux (1983) Theory and Resistance in Education Bergin & Garvey Paperback
Henry Giroux is a social critic. See Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Giroux
Videos of Henry Giroux is available at
Liberal egalitarianism of (socio)linguistics --> denying access to standard English AND claiming nonexistent equality?
A critical stance is necessary.
Traditional sociolinguistics may have disregarded social classes and instead only dealt with social strata (Fairclough 1989, Mey 1985)
"Sociolinguistic reality" as natural or political?
Questioning the concept of "sociolinguistic competence"
From "social appropriacy" to "language use in terms of political desirability"?
Peirce, B. N. (1989) Toward a pedagogy of possibility in the teaching of English internationally. TESOL Quarterly, 23, 401-420.
Does language merely reflect society?
-->An alternative view by Cameron (1995)
Sociolinguistics says that how you act depends on who you are; critical theory says that who you are (and taken to be) depends on how you act. (1995, pp. 15-16)
Cameron, D. (1995). Verbal hygine. London: Routledge.
==> "Speaking, learning, teaching language is a form of social and cultural action; it is about producing and not just reflecting realities." (p. 53)
3.2 LANGUAGE PLANNING AND POLITICS: THE GLOBAL SPREAD OF ENGLISH
Is language planning a scientific and technological matter or a social and political matter, or both?
3.2.1 Liberal Complementarity
A colonial celebrity position: "English is superior to other languages in terms of both its intrinsic (the nature of the language) and extrinsic (the functions of the language) qualities." (p. 56)
A liberal laissez-faire attitude: "a balance between the dual values of 'international intelligibility' and 'historical identity.' (cf. Crystal 1997)
Laissez-faire: a policy of allowing events to take their own course with minimal intervention. (Wikipedia)
You can read some portion of Crystal's English as a Global Language from Google Book Search.
Notice how he uses the verb 'grow' for language use (language as a natural phenomenon) and the impersonal pronoun 'nothing' for a social/political agency (non-political view over language, no notion of performativity and resistance)
Although avoiding firm predictions about the future, I thought it likely that English 'has already grown to be independent of any form of social control' (1st edition, p. 139). In my view the momentum of growth has become so great that there is nothing likely to stop its continued spread as a global lingua franca, at least in the foreseeable future. (Preface to the second edition, x)
Are the users of language other than English static markers of identity?
See my short review of Claire Kramsch and Anne Whiteside (2008) Language Ecology in Multilingual Settings. Towards a Theory of Symbolic Competence. Applied Linguistics 29/4: 645-671
3.2.2 Language Ecology, Language Rights, and Linguistic Imperialism
Diffusion-of-English paradigm and ecology-of-language paradigm in Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas (1996) English Only Worldwide or Language Ecology? TESOL Quarterly, 30, 429-452.
They do not, however, take a simplistic view. What they call for is "increased sensitivity":
We are not suggesting that global injustice in North-South relations correlates simply or straightforwardly with English as the dominant world language and a range of uses to which English is put internationally and intranationally. Major complexities exist in the relationship between global homogenization and heterogenization, the intermeshing of economic and cultural forces (Appadurai, 1990), and controversy about the multiple nature of the English language and about whose interests “world Englishes” serve. On the other hand, as people concerned with language matters, we need to consider how and why English is expanding worldwide, whose interests this process has served, and what ideologies and structures currently favour the increased expansion of English at the expense of other languages. We need increased sensitivity to diverse language policy goals and to the potential of a range of educational language policy measures, particularly in formal schooling. We as TESOL professionals need to know whose agenda we are following, both as intellectuals (Said, 1994) and as teachers responsible for the educational development of fellow humans. (p. 441)
Linguicism, of which linguistic imperialism is one form is explained in Wikipedia as follows:
Linguicism is a form of prejudice, an "-ism" along the lines of racism, ageism or sexism. Broadly defined, it involves an individual making judgments about another's wealth, education, social status, character, and/or other traits based on choice and use of language.
The word is attributed to the linguist Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, who coined the concept in the mid-1980s, and gave it the following definition: "ideologies and structures which are used to legitimate, effectuate, and reproduce unequal division of power and resources (both material and non-material) between groups which are defined on the basis of language."
Linguistic rights (or language rights or linguistic human rights) are the human and civil rights concerning the individual and collective right to choose the language or languages for communicating in a private or public atmosphere, regardless ethnicity or nationality or the number of the speakers of a language in a given territory.
Linguistic rights include the right to legal, administrative and judicial acts, education, and the media in a language understood and freely chosen by those concerned. They are a means of resisting forced cultural assimilation and linguistic imperialism, especially in the context of protection of minorities and indigenous peoples.
Linguistic rights in international law are usually dealt in the broader framework of cultural and educational rights.
Important documents for linguistic rights include the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON LINGUISTIC RIGHTS (World Conference on Linguistic Rights Barcelona, Spain, 9 June 1996) is available from here:
Notice that this Declaration takes "the principle that linguistic rights are individual and collective at one and the same time (Article 1, Section 2)."
Article 3 is about personal rights, collective rights and interrelation of them:
1. This Declaration considers the following to be inalienable personal rights which may be exercised in any situation:
the right to be recognized as a member of a language community; the right to the use of one’s own language both in private and in public; the right to the use of one’s own name;
the right to interrelate and associate with other members of one’s language community of origin;
the right to maintain and develop one’s own culture;
and all the other rights related to language which are recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the same date.
2. This Declaration considers that the collective rights of language groups may include the following, in addition to the rights attributed to the members of language groups in the foregoing paragraph, and in accordance with the conditions laid down in article 2.2:
the right for their own language and culture to be taught; the right of access to cultural services;
the right to an equitable presence of their language and culture in the communications media;
the right to receive attention in their own language from government bodies and in socioeconomic relations.
3. The aforementioned rights of persons and language groups must in no way hinder the interrelation of such persons or groups with the host language community or their integration into that community. Nor must they restrict the rights of the host community or its members to the full public use of the community’s own language throughout its territorial space.
Article 4 seems to aim for a good balance between separation and assimilation:
1. This Declaration considers that persons who move to and settle in the territory of another language community have the right and the duty to maintain an attitude of integration towards this community. This term is understood to mean an additional socialization of such persons in such a way that they may preserve their original cultural characteristics while sharing with the society in which they have settled sufficient references, values and forms of behaviour to enable them to function socially without greater difficulties than those experienced by members of the host community.
2. This Declaration considers, on the other hand, that assimilation, a term which is understood to mean acculturation in the host society, in such a way that the original cultural characteristics are replaced by the references, values and forms of behaviour of the host society, must on no account be forced or induced and can only be the result of an entirely free choice.
Article 5 declare the equality and independence of the legal or political status of languages as official languages. Note the use of words such as equal, independent, legal, political, or official. Words like same, economic, social or even cultural are are not used here.
This Declaration is based on the principle that the rights of all language communities are equal and independent of the legal or political status of their languages as official, regional or minority languages. Terms such as regional or minority languages are not used in this Declaration because, though in certain cases the recognition of regional or minority languages can facilitate the exercise of certain rights, these and other modifiers are frequently used to restrict the rights of language communities.
Article 14 prohibits a possible abuse of this Declaration to the detriment of the norm or practice of powerful languages.
The provisions of this Declaration cannot be interpreted or used to the detriment of any norm or practice deriving from the internal or international status of a language which is more favourable to its use within the territory to which it is specific.
Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 1-112 (January 1998) of Language Sciences is a special issue for Language Rights that is edited by Phil Benson, Peter Grundy and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas.
It contains the following papers.
Peter Grundy, Phil Benson, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
Human rights and language wrongs?A future for diversity?
Language choice in education: Conflict resolution in Indian courts
The philosophy of language rights
Albert H. Y. Chen
Human language rights: An islamic perspective
Ahmad Shehu Abdussalam
Language rights--interests of state, language groups and the individual
The right to language: Towards a situated ethics of language possibilities
Postmodernity, cultural pluralism and the nation-state: Problems of language rights, human rights, identity and power
Globalizing English: Are linguistic human rights an alternative to linguistic imperialism?
Language ecology is explained by Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas (1996) as follows: "The ecology-of-language paradigm involves building on linguistic diversity worldwide, promoting multilingualism and foreign language learning, and granting linguistic human rights to speakers of all languages. (in the Abstract, p. 429)"
Following Tsuda (1994), Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas (1996: 436) presents the ecology-of-language paradigm by presenting its main features.
1. a human rights perspective
2. equality in communication
4. maintenance of languages and cultures
5. protection of national sovereignties
6. promotion of foreign language education
Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas (1996) English Only Worldwide or Language Ecology? TESOL Quarterly, 30, 429-452.
cf. Tsuda, Y. (1994). The diffusion of English: Its impact on culture and communication. Keio Communication Review, 16, 49-61.
Compare how the concept of language ecology is explored in the Language Ecology Course Proposal at Berleley Language Center, where the following five issues are considered central problems: social context; history and geography;population dynamics; ideology; cognition.
Syllabus is available from here:
--> Is the term ecology used as a scientific term or as a loosely ideological term?
See the entry of ecology in Wikipedia:
Ecology is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of life and the interactions between organisms and their natural environment. The environment of an organism includes physical properties, which can be described as the sum of local abiotic factors such as insolation (sunlight), climate, and geology, and biotic ecosystem, which includes other organisms that share its habitat.
The word "ecology" is often used more loosely in such terms as social ecology and deep ecology and in common parlance as a synonym for the natural environment or environmentalism. Likewise "ecologic" or "ecological" is often taken in the sense of environmentally friendly.
Or see how The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines 'ecology.'
(1a) The science of the relationships between organisms and their environments. Also called bionomics.
(1b) The relationship between organisms and their environment.
(2) The branch of sociology that is concerned with studying the relationships between human groups and their physical and social environments. Also called human ecology.
(3) The study of the detrimental effects of modern civilization on the environment, with a view toward prevention or reversal through conservation. Also called human ecology.
[In a comment posted to this article, Mr. Brian Barker kindly suggested that some description of Esperanto should be included. I thank Brian for this constructive comment.]
According to Wikipedia, Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language in the world. It was developed in the late 1870s and early 1880s by L. L. Zamenhof (1859-1917) to foster harmony between people from different countries. The number of speakers of Esperanto is estimated at between 100,000 to 2 million now.
Great efforts are being made to promote Esperanto. lernu! is a web site to help teaching and learning Esperanto.
There is an interesting argument (with empirical evidence) that learning Esperanto may provide a good foundation for learning languages in general.
As is true with almost anything, there are some controvercies, though.
3.3 POSTCOLONIALISM AND RESISTENCE
Canagarajah (1999) begins his book Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching (Oxford University Press) with a poem by Derek Walcott, a West Indies poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who writes mainly in English. Walcott, was born in Castries, St. Lucia, and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.
A video of Walcott reading his poem can be seen in YouTube.
Here is the poem A Far Cry from Africaby Derek Walcott.
I who am positioned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
Canagarajah (1990) then provides two positions, reproduction orientation and resistance perspective.
The negative or positive responses to the vernacular and English -- leading either to the 'betrayal' of one language, or to the 'giving back' of both -- are largely influenced by underlying differences in perspectives on power. A decision to reject English in order to be true to the vernacular (or vice versa) constitutes a specific ideological orientation. The assumptions made by proponents of this position are that subjects are passive, and lack agency to manage linguistic and ideological conflicts to their best advantage; languages are seen as monolithic, abstract structures that come with a homogeneous set of ideologies, and function to spread and sustain the interests of dominant groups. I will term such a deterministic perspective on power -- which has had considerable influence in linguistics, discourse analysis, social sciences, and education -- the reproduction orientation. The alternative response, of engaging favorably with both languages, calls for a different set of assumptions, in which subjects have the agency to think critically and work out ideological alternatives that favor their own empowerment. It recognizes that while language may have a repressive effect, it also has the liberatory potential of facilitating critical thinking, and enabling subjects to rise above domination: each language is sufficiently heterogeneous for marginalized groups to make it serve their own purposes. This is the resistance perspective alluded to in the title of this book. It provides for the possibility that, in everyday life, the powerless in post-colonial communities may find ways to negotiate, alter, and oppose political structures, and reconstruct their languages, cultures, and identities to their advantage. The intention is not to reject English, but to reconstitute it in more inclusive, ethical, and democratic terms, and so bring about the creative resolutions to their linguistic conflicts sought by Walcott and others in the periphery. (p. 2)
You can see Prof. Canagarajah talking on the subject of Voice, World Englishes, and writing instruction on YouTube
==> What do English teachers, both native and non-native say about ELT in Japan, which is probably neither in the center or in the periphery?
3.3.1 Colonialism and Postcolonialism
Postcolonialism "as a rewriting of colonialism, an opposition stance to the continuing effects of colonialism, and an appropriation of colonial tools for postcolonial ends." (Pennycook 2001, p. 66)
Distinction between postcoloniality and postcolonialism, and between postmodernity and postmodernism.
Colonialism as a political, economic, cultural and intellectual prosess.
-->Postcolonialism as a "challenge to some of the "central" categories of Western thought." (Pennycook 2001, p. 67)
Immanuel Wallerstein (2006 ) European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power (The New Press) may give you a good understanding of "central categories of Western thought (Pennycook 2001, p. 67)". What Wallerstein terms as "European universalism" (a case of oxymoron -- how can 'universalism' be a regional notion?) consists of three types:the right to intervene against barbarians; essentialist particularism and scientific universalism.
The publisher gives a brief synopsis.
In a short interview, Wallerstein himself summarizes the book as follows:
European universalism is used to justify imperialism, Western expansionism. Obviously, variants exist in sophisticated arguments. The first, the most brutal (as in Iraq today), consists in saying that the others are barbarians, whom we must tame. A second variant, a little more subtle, studied by Edward Said under the name of "Orientalism," claims that the others are different beings, fixed in their differences, to whom we must bring true civilization -- an argument that one finds in Samuel Huntington in particular. Lastly, a third type of argument is that of scientific truth to which one appeals to impose the Western point of view. And, as it so happens, this alleged scientific truth is held by the most powerful countries in the world!
There are some reviews, both positive and negative, of this book on the web.
Here is my short review of the book in Japanese.
3.3.2 Resistence, Appropriation, and Third Spaces
An historical understanding of language use
History and politics of translation as demostrated by Venuti (1998) The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference. (Routledge)
A book review on the web explains an example of historicity of translation of Japanese literature.
Similarly, Venuti examines Japanese literature translated into English, finding that publishers and translators in effect conspired to show only one aspect of Japanese literary culture by translating only a few authors who are not necessarily representative of Japanese literature. Kawabata, Mishima, Tanizaki, and later Abe and Oe were, for a long time, the only representatives of Japanese literature made accessible to English-speaking audiences. Extensively translated, it was made to seem that that was all there was -- a situation that has only recently changed.
The review reports the imbalance of translation from and to English.
One of the shocking facts revealed here is how little foreign literature is translated into English. The statistics are astonishing, especially in light of the fact that in most languages English is the most-translated language (i.e. English language works are translated into the native tongue more than those from any other language). Venuti also correctly points out the many implications of not translating works, often using his favourite word, "marginalization".
A nonessentialist stance emphasizing appropriation and hybridity
Kanavillil Rajagopalan's paper, Of EFL teachers, conscience, and cowardice. (ELT J 1999 53: 200-206) is available from here:
The paper questions the claims of linguistic imperialism or its binary opposition of English vs the vernacular.
The central purpose of this paper is to plead for an urgent review of a currently fashionable rhetoric, according to which the spread of English is endangering many regional languages and their corresponding cultures. The unmistakable implication of this opinion is that the spread of EFL ‘has a nefariously aggressive and imperialistic dimension to it’. I contend that the guilt complex which is likely to arise among EFL teachers in particular from a suspicion of complicity in this gigantic enterprise of neo-colonialism is totally misguided. In my view, the whole thesis is based on premises that no longer hold good in a world marked by cultural intermixing and growing multilingualsm at a hitherto unprecedented level, leading to unstable identities and shifting conceptual contours.
If a consequence of the criticism of linguistic imperialism is a return to some genuine ethnicity or monolingualism (this is a rather big if), then the current situation betrays the idea of such a genuine land.
The post-World War II era also witnessed massive migratory movements of 'transplanted speakers'.all over the world on a hitherto unprecedented scale. These new contexts of 'diaspora' have led to highly fluid and endemically unstable linguistic environments, where multilingualism,rather than monolingualism, has become the norm. Even a supposedly monolingual country such as Great Britain has been described as 'socially multilingual' (Stubbs 1986: 15). The recent advances in satellite and cable television, and of information-flow over computer networks, have further helped reduce distances and make a mockery of zealously guarded cultural boundaries that until recently were considered inviolable. Many linguists and other language theorists seem not to have waken up to the full implications of the changes rapidly taking place under their very noses. To use Kachru's felicitous phrase (Kachru 1996), many of them seem to be suffering from a 'paradigm myopia', which the author defines as 'a short-sighted view of the fastincreasing English using community in the new contexts of diaspora'. Many linguists are still happy working with such discreet entities as language x, a monolingual speaker of language x, etc., that no longer corresponds even remotely to anything concrete to be encountered on the face of this earth. As Hutton (1996: 209) has observed, 'Linguistics is perhaps the most '19th century' of the academic disciplines taught in universities today.' (p. 204)
However, it's hard for me to agree with the tone of political realsm in the last paragraph of this paper.
In any Of EFL teachers, conscience and cowardice society, language planning and language teaching necessarily entail a rehashing of existing power relations simply because power is exercised in and through language. It is foolhardy to expect that such power inequalities can be rectified or done away with once and for all. From a linguistic perspective, all societies are riddled with what Ray (1965) calls 'indispensable inequality'. (pp. 205-206)
Works cited in the above quotations are:
Hutton, C. 1996. 'Law lessons for linguists? Accountability and acts of professional classification'.Language and Communication 16/3: 205-14.
Kachru, B. B. 1996. 'The paradigms of marginality'. World Englishes 15/1: 241-55.
Ray, P. S. 1965. 'Review of The National Language Question: Linguistic Problems of Newly Independent States by R. B. Le Page'. Word 21/2:334-35.
The paper that follows the above one in the same volume is a critical review Rajagopalan of by Canagarajah.
A. Suresh Canagarajah
On EFL Teachers, awareness, and agency
ELT J 1999 53: 207-214
If the rhetoric of linguistic imperialism (hereafter LI) has been fashionable for some time, we are now seeing another rhetoric become more fashionable and pitted against it. What I will call the linguistic hybridity movement (LH) celebrates the fluidity in languages, identities, and cultures, thus pluralizing these constructs. In their extreme versions, while LI is absolutist in defining these constructs monolithically as constituted by one ideology or the other, LH is relativistic in seeing them as always shifting in meaning and shape. While LI is deterministic in perceiving these constructs as always pliable in the hands of dominant forces, LH is antinomian, in seeing them as perpetually unstable, and resisting control. While LI is activist in struggling against hegemonic discourses to reconstruct a more democratic order, LH leads to apathy (as languages are seen as deconstructing themselves, transcending domination) or even playfulness (as the provision of new meanings to these constructs is treated as subverting the status quo). Leaping from one rhetoric to another without engaging rigorously with any, or clobbering one rhetoric with the other, are easy and eventually unproductive exercises. These are, after all, times when academic discourses, spawned freely in opposition to each other, swing wildly between extremes like a pendulum. As a teacher, focused on the concerns of my students, I negotiate with these divergent rhetorics to consider how they may develop a richer awareness of language and social life, enabling me to act more rewardingly in the classroom.
If we just go from the bandwagon of linguistic imperialism to a new bandwagon of linguistic hybridity, we will probably keep missing power relations in operation in the real world.
Rajagopalan invokes the condition of cultural mixing, linguistic hybridity, and unstable identities only to prove that the monolingual communities and historical contexts that motivated the LI rhetoric don't exist any more. But he doesn't explore the ways in which the LH condition can be exaggerated to ignore certain realities of power in the contemporary world, just as LH has the potential to resist the types of imperialism articulated by the LI model. (p. 209)
Before we get carried away into joining the LH bandwagon, then, we have to make some sober observations on power relations. That identities are fluid doesn't mean that society and schools don't fix certain negative identities on minority students and discriminate against them accordingly. That cultures are mixed doesn't mean that certain values and practices aren't defined as the cultural capital required for success in dominant institutions, including schools. That languages are hybrid doesn't mean that certain codes don't function as the linguistic capital (with a clear hierarchy of the registers, dialects, and discourses valued) to obtain social and educational rewards. (p. 209)
Franz Fanon and his Black Skin, White Masks are often cited in the discussion of hybridity.
Frantz Fanon (July 20, 1925 - December 6, 1961) was a psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and author from Martinique. He was influential in the field of post-colonial studies and was perhaps the pre-eminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades
Black Skin, White Masks is a 1952 book written by Frantz Fanon originally published in French as Peau noire, masques blancs.
In this study, Fanon uses psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical theory to explain the feelings of dependency and inadequacy that Black people experience in a White world. He speaks of the divided self-perception of the Black Subject who has lost his native cultural originality and embraced the culture of the mother country. As a result of the inferiority complex engendered in the mind of the Black Subject, he will try to appropriate and imitate the cultural code of the colonizer. The behaviour, Fanon argues, is even more evident in upwardly mobile and educated Black people who can afford to acquire the trappings of White culture.
Race and ethnicity
Crossley explains race and ethnicity as follows:
'Races', as discursive constructions, are rooted in either perceived (for example, skin colour) or imagined (for example, alleged genetic 'stock') biological differences, the presumption being that the human species as a whole sub-divides into various 'natural kinds' along the lines of these differences. (...)
The concept of ethnicity, too, tends to be focused upon cultural differences. Where 'racism' denotes an external categorization and judgement of a social group, however, 'ethnicity' tends to be used to refer to diffent cultural groups as they are defined from the inside, by their own members. Consequently the term tends also to map onto forms of self-identification/identity and a sense of belonging. (Crossley 2005, p, 235)
Key Concepts in Critical Social Theory SAGE
A focus on local contexts of language
"Hegemonies are also filled with complex local contradictions, with the resistences and appropriations that are a crucial part of the postcolonial context. (Pennycook 2001, 71).
3.4 CONCLUSION: TOWARD A POSTCOLONIAL PERFORMATIVE VIEW OF LANGUAGE
Spivak (1993) Outside in the Teaching Machine. Routledge.
The critique of essentialism as "an acknowledgment of the dangerousness of something one cannot not use. (p. 5)"