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Language And Politics (Edinburgh Textbooks In A...

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Language And Politics (Edinburgh Textbooks In A...

The chapter headings include:How politics permeates language (and vice-versa)Language and nationThe social politics of language choice and linguistic correctnessPolitics embedded in languageTaboo language and its restrictionRhetoric, propaganda and interpretationPower, hegemony and choices

A theory of imperialism is not a prerequisite to look critically at questions of power and politics in ELT, but if we reject linguistic imperialism for its monologically dystopian approach to language and culture in favour of the utopian visions of diversity in WE or ELF frameworks, we are equally poorly served. More important in relation to the power and politics of English are close and detailed understandings of the ways in which English is embedded in local economies of desire and the ways in which demand for English is part of a larger picture of images of change, modernisation, access and longing. It is tied to the languages, cultures, styles and aesthetics of popular culture, with its particular attractions for youth, rebellion and conformity; it is enmeshed within local economies and all the inclusions, exclusions and inequalities this may entail; it is bound up with changing modes of communication, from shifting Internet uses to its role in text-messaging; it is increasingly entrenched in educational systems, bringing to the fore many concerns about knowledge, pedagogy and the curriculum. We need to understand the diversity of what English is and what it means in all these contexts, and we need to do so not with prior assumptions about globalisation and its effects but with critical studies of the local embeddedness of English.

Such an understanding urges us on the one hand to acknowledge that what we mean by English is always contingent on local relations of power and desire, the ways that English means many different things and is caught up in many forms of hope, longing, discrimination and inequality. It also allows us on the other hand to avoid a hopelessness faced by immovable forces of global domination and instead to see that we can seek to change inequitable conditions of power through our small-scale actions that address local conditions of difference, desire and disparity, seeking out ELT responses through an understanding of translingual practices in the classroom, critical discussions of textbooks and ideological formations, questioning of the norms of ELT practices and their interests. Power and politics are ubiquitous in language and language education, but resistance and change are always possible. 781b155fdc


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