CRITICS: globalisation/Fairclough

Robert Phillipson ROBERT at
Tue Mar 12 10:45:18 UTC 1996

Globalisation and discourse
Here are a few responses to Norman's paper of January 1996, which I
have finally got round
to. These notes confirm continued interest in the project.
1. On the globalization of methods of English Language Teaching,
Alastair Pennycook's book
"The cultural politics of English as an international language"
(Longman) adopts a Foucault-
inspired approach with, in my view, mixed success (pace the judges of
the BAAL book prize
last year). In any case ELT is part of the unequal relations between
North and South, in which
- - norms and discourses in relation to choice of language,
- - as well as types of discourse or text (e.g. scientific
- - of professional identity (e.g. applied linguistics and its
expansionist "logic")
are all intermingled, and a lot still needs exploration here, not
least in post-communist contexts
and the marketization of English (which Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and I
have some provisional
papers on).
2. A localization logic is forcefully expressed in Arjun Parakrama's
language standards. Learning from (post)colonial Englishes about
'English'" (Macmillan),
which has no illusions about whose interests "world" English serves.
3. On translation, which is suggested as a possible field of study,
yes, much of such activity is
asymmetrical and promotes convergence (for instance in the European
"Union"). One of the
reviewers of my "Linguistic imperialism", Basil Hatim, of Herriot-
Watt, Edinburgh (whom I
have never met or corresponded with), thought the book useful just
because it clicked with
some of what he had experienced in the area of translation, which
tends to be culturally uni-
directional. He is a Palestinian, and familiar with links between
English and Arabic. "It is in
translation that I saw in action the intricacy of the intention to
communicate and the
complexity of the power of the word when context straddles a cultural
divide". Hatim has a
book with Longman, "Discourse and the translator", 1990, which I have
never had time to
look at.
4. I dispute Norman's claim that in linguistics and discourse
analysis "the 'natural' domain has
tended to be seen as a language community corresponding to the nation-
state" - though I think
I know what he is referring to. Denmark is vividly involved in
national, Scandinavian/Nordic
and European discourses, all of which also operate at sub-statal
levels too. It may be that in
"small" countries things are seen differently as compared with the
"Big" countries which are
presumed to be more culturally self-sufficient. At what cost?... A
new form of linguistic
squinting? I suppose we should be clearer about which levels of macro
societal structure we
are relating to and attempting to clarify.
If there were more time...
Robert Phillipson

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