Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages

Hayes, Daragh

Those familiar with Pennycook’s previous works such as English and the Discourses of Colonialism (1998) or Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction (2001) will not be surprised to learn that this latest volume, co-edited with Makoni and titled Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages, challenges many orthodoxies related to the role of English in the world and the nature of language. As far back as his 1994 book, The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language, Pennycook has been contesting the view that the global spread of English has been a natural, neutral, and beneficial process and has argued against fixation on language as an a priori ontological system in favor of focus on “language use as a social, cultural, and political act” (Pennycook, 1994, p. 29). It is not difficult to imagine that the editors’ collaboration on this volume was inspired in part by a critique Makoni offered of Pennycook’s Critical Applied Linguistics suggesting that in the absence of concrete strategies for engaging and collaborating with local communities, “Critical Applied Linguistics runs the danger of being hegemonic to the very communities it seeks to serve” (Makoni, 2003, p. 135). Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages is also a natural extension of Makoni’s plenary contribution at the 2004 American Association of Applied Linguistics conference in Portland where he proposed a vision of applied linguistics grounded less in an Anglo-American or Western world view, but having greater relevance to a variety of sociolinguistic contexts (Makoni, 2005). Following a forward by Ofelia García, the book is divided into 10 chapters covering the following three areas: the socio-political contexts from which current understandings of language have grown, the way current conceptions of language have limited development of a more nuanced understanding of how people communicate, and the pedagogical implications a language disinvention and reconstitution process might have.


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Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics

More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Published Here
October 30, 2015