De-Hegemonizing Language Standards: Learning from by Arjuna Parakrama

By Arjuna Parakrama

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Extra resources for De-Hegemonizing Language Standards: Learning from (Post)Colonial Englishes about ‘English’

Example text

Indeed, close examination of the way the Concrete works will, I think it is not unfair or distorting to claim, reveal that the burden of its thought and argument is carried largely by the authorized forms, and that what the other forms do is, as it were, to weave an intricate pattern around it which invests it with a kind of experiential immediacy that belongs in a rather different world from the 'natural' world of that thought. Without the latter kind of forms, we would still be left with the thought; without the former kind, we would have not even the experience.

That discourse is something the nature of which can only be determined by real, live interaction among real, live people in real, live situations. If the Concrete works, it works because it gives body to a possibility that the book as a whole awakens us to an awareness of. This is a possibility that current modes of thinking about the matter too often block out of our vision, even in the face of the persistent evidence we get in its support every time we watch the international media or run into the large numbers of 'international people' who are now found wandering all over our increasingly interacting world, and respond with openness to the rich variety of accents, forms and meanings that come across to us with such persuasiveness and power.

11 David Crystal, the pre-eminent linguist, writes. [A Standard is] a term used in sociolinguistics to refer to a prestige variety of language used within a speech community. 'Standard languages/dialects/varieties' cut across regional differences, providing a unified means of communication, and thus an institutionalised norm which can be used in the mass media, in teaching the language to foreigners, and so on. Linguistic forms or dialects which do not conform to this norm are then referred to as sub-standard or (with a less pejorative prefix) non-standard though neither term is intended to suggest that other dialect forms 'lack standards' in any linguistic sense.

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