Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages

Edited by: Sinfree Makoni, Alastair Pennycook

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Multilingual Matters
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This book questions assumptions about the nature of language and how language is conceptualized. Looking at diverse contexts from sign languages in Indonesia to literacy practices in Brazil, from hip-hop in the US to education in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this book forcefully argues that a critique of common linguistic and metalinguistic suppositions is not only a conceptual but also a sociopolitical necessity. Just as many notions of language are highly suspect, so too are many related concepts premised on a notion of discrete languages, such as language rights, mother tongues, multilingualism, or code-switching. Definitions of language in language policies, education and assessment have material and often harmful consequences for people. Unless we actively engage with the history of invention of languages in order to radically change and reconstitute the ways in which languages are taught and conceptualized, language studies will not be able to improve the social welfare of language users.

This book should be essential reading for language theorists and language practitioners alike and will interest a wide readership concerned with linking a socially responsible applied linguistics to a sophisticated discourse on the nature of language.

The book powerfully juxtaposes the purported neutrality and scientific objectivity of conventional Saussaurean linguistics with images of a modernist Western discipline that continues to perceive and catalogue communication in other cultures through a subjective and value-laden prism. Readers with a questioning nature and an interest in the ramification of language invention will find Disinventing and Reconstitutiong Languages to be a book with a great deal to offer.

Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 1

Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages is a deeply thought-provoking volume which challenges conventional notions about language, the study of language and language policy. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the many complex sociological, ontological and epistemological questions that swirl around language, culture, globalization and identity.

Journal of Sociolinguistics, Volume 15, Number 3, June 2011

Sinfree Makoni is an Internationalist interested in contributing towards the development of alternative conceptualisations of language, society and culture in diverse contexts. He has held professional appointments in southern Africa. He currently teaches at Pennyslvania State University in the US. He is the co-author of Language in Aging in Multilingual Contexts (2005, Multilingual Matters), co-editor of Black Linguistics: language, society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas (2003, Routledge), Ageing in Africa: sociolinguistic and anthropological approaches (2002, Ashgate) Freedom and Discipline: essays in Applied Linguistics from southern Africa (Bahri-India (2001), Language and Institutions in Africa (1999, The Centre for Advanced Studies of African Societies, Cape Town). Improving Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Wits University Press, 2000).

Alastair Pennycook is concerned with how we understand language in relation to globalization, colonial history, identity, popular culture and pedagogy. Publications have therefore focused on topics such as The cultural politics of English as an international language (Longman, 1994), English and the discourses of colonialism (Routledge, 1998), Critical applied linguistics: A critical introduction (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001) and Global Englishes and transcultural flows (Routledge, in press). This current book on disinvention is the result of a sustained dialogue with Sinfree Makoni on language, politics and the world. Alastair is Professor of Language in Education at the University of Technology Sydney.

Foreword by Ofelia Garcia

Chapter 1 Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages - Sinfree Makoni and Alastair Pennycook

Chapter 2 Then There were Languages: Bahasa Indonesia was One Among Many - Ariel Heryanto

Chapter 3 Critical Historiography: Does Language Planning in Africa Need a Construct of Language as Part of its Theoretical Apparatus? - Sinfree Makoni & Pedzisai Mashiri

Chapter 4 The Myth of English as an International Language - Alastair Pennycook

Chapter 5 Beyond 'Language': Linguistic Imperialism, Sign Languages and Linguistic Anthropology - Jan Branson and Don Miller

Chapter 6 Entering a Culture Quietly: Writing and Cultural Survival in Indigenous Education in Brazil - Lynn Mario T. Menezes de Souza

Chapter 7 A Linguistics of Communicative Activity - Steven L. Thorne & James P. Lantolf

Chapter 8 (Dis)inventing Discourse: Examples from Black Culture and Hiphop Rap/Discourse - Elaine Richardson

Chapter 9 Educational Materials Reflecting Heteroglossia: Disinventing Ethnolinguistic Differences in Bosnia-Herzegovina - Brigitta Busch & Jürgen Schick

Chapter 10 After Disinvention: Possibilities for Communication, Community, and Competence - A. Suresh Canagarajah 

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