Global and worldly Englishes Discommunities and subcultural empires

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rrent world. An ongoing controversy in discussions of globalization concerns whether we view it as just another phase of capitalist expansion or whether it represents a fundamentally new moment in global relations. On the one hand, there is the argument that capital has always been global in its reach (even if the global wasnt quite as global as it is now): European imperialism sought to create global access to resources, global distribution networks and global markets for its products. On the other hand is the argument that current globalization is something fundamentally new, involving new arrangements of states, new forms of communication, new movements of people, and so forth. As Kramschs (1999) puts it, “If there is one thing that globalization has brought us, and that the teaching of English makes possible, it is travel, migration, multiple allegiances, and a different relationship to time and place" (p.138).

Hardt and Negris (2000) Empire is significant here since it argues strongly for disjuncture, arguing that most analyses fail to account for “the novelty of the structures and logics of power that order the contemporary world. Empire is not a weak echo of modern imperialisms but a fundamentally new form of rule” (p.146). Unlike the old imperialism (s), which were centred around the economic and political structures and exchanges of the nation state (indeed, the two were in many ways mutually constitutive), and which may be best portrayed in terms of world maps with different colours for different empires, the new Empire is a system of national and supranational regulations that control and produce new economies, cultures, politics and ways of living. The US, in this view, while a major player in the new Empire, has not simply taken over the imperial mantle from the European powers, since such a view maintains a states-centric version of the world.

Such a position, however, runs the serious danger of distancing ourselves too much from past forms of empire. Mignolo (2000) is useful here, arguing that “The current process of globalization is not a new phenomenon, although the way in which it is taking place is without precedent. On a larger scale, globalization at the end of the twentieth century (mainly occurring through transnational corporations, the media, and technology) is the most recent configuration of a process that can be traced back to the 1500s, with the beginning of transatlantic exploration and the consolidation of Western hegemony” (p.236). Mignolo traces three principal phases: The first as the Orbis Universalis Christianus consolidated by the defeat of the Moors, the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian peninsula and the discovery of America. The second phase “replaced the hegemony of the Christian mission with the civilizing mission" with a new basis of mercantile expansion and trading based around Amsterdam, and the emergence of France and England as the new imperial powers. The civilizing mission took over from the Christian mission but also co-existed with it. This misison went through various configurations in the twentieth century, particularly the development and modernization paradigms after WWII. Finally, the third phase has gradually taken precedent with the emphasis on efficiency and expanding markets. But, as Mignolo emphasizes, we need to understand “the coexistence of successive global designs that are part of the imaginary of the modern/colonial world system” (p.280).

It is crucial, I want to argue, to see the global spread of English in a complex relation to this imperial past. All too often, it is assumed that the current role of English is either a continuation of the colonial past, or a radically new effect of recent history. In fact, it is a much more complex history. It is important, first of all, to understand that British colonial language policy was not massively in favour of spreading English. Colonial language policies can be seen as constructed between four poles (for much greater detailed analysis, see Pennycook, 1998; 2000): First, the position of colonies within a capitalist empire and the need to produce docile and compliant workers and consumers to fuel capitalist expansion; second, the discourses of Anglicism and liberalism with their insistence on the European need to bring civilization to the world through English; third, local contingencies of class, ethnicity, race and economic conditions that dictated the distinctive development of each colony; and fourth, the discourses of Orientalism with its insistence on exotic histories, traditions and nations in decline. By and large, these competing discourses on the requirements for colonial education produced language policies broadly favouring education in local languages: Vernacular education was seen as the best means of educating a compliant workforce and of inculcating moral and political values that would make the colonial governance of large populations more possible. English was seen as a dangerous weapon, an unsafe thing, too much of which would lead to a discontented class of people who were not prepared to abide by the colonial system.

There are, of course ample examples of imperial rhetoric extolling the virtues of English, from Charles Grants argument in 1797 that “The first communication, and the instrument of introducing the rest, must be the English language; this is a key which will open to them a world of new ideas, and policy alone might have impelled us, long since, to put it into their hands" (Bureau of Education, 1920, p.83), through Macaulays infamous Minute of 1835, to Frederick Lugards views on the use of English at Hong Kong University in the early part of the 20th century: “I would emphasize the value of English as the medium of instruction. If we believe that British interests will be thus promoted, we believe equally firmly that graduates, by the mastery of English, will acquire the key to a great literature and the passport to a great trade (1910, p.4). These arguments, however, had more to do with the construction of English as a language with particular benefits, an issue that will be discussed below, than with the expansion of English beyond a narrow elite.

The weight of argument by colonial administrators was much more in favour of education in local languages. In the 1884 report on education (Straits Settlements), E. C. Hill, the Inspector of Schools for the colony, explained his reasons against increasing the provision of education in English: Apart from the costs and the difficulties in finding qualified teachers to teach English, there was the further problem that “as pupils who acquire a knowledge of English are invariably unwilling to earn their livelihood by manual labour, the immediate result of affording an English education to any large number of Malays would be the creation of a discontented class who might become a source of anxiety to the community" (p.171). This position was extremely common and is echoed, for example, by Frank Swettenhams argument in the Perak Government Gazette (6 July, 1894): "I am not in favour of extending the number of `English schools except where there is some palpable desire that English should be taught. Whilst we teach children to read and write and count in their own languages, or in Malay... we are safe" (emphasis in original). Thus, as Loh Fook Seng (1970) comments, "Modern English education for the Malay then is ruled out right from the beginning as an unsafe thing" (p.114).

In an article on vernacular education in the State of Perak, the Inspector of Schools, H. B. Collinge, explained the benefits of education in Malay as taking “thousands of our boys... away from idleness", helping them at the same time to ”acquire habits of industry, obedience, punctuality, order, neatness, cleanliness and general good behaviour" Thus, after a boy had attended school for a year or so, he was “found to be less lazy at home, less given to evil habits and mischievous adventure, more respectful and dutiful, much more willing to help his parents, and with sense enough not to entertain any ambition beyond following the humble home occupations he has been taught to respect". And not only does the school inculcate such habits of dutiful labour but it also helps colonial rule more generally since “if there is any lingering feeling of dislike of the `white man, the school tends greatly to remove it, for the people see that the Government has really their welfare at heart in providing them with this education, free, without compulsion, and with the greatest consideration for their mohammedan sympathies” (cited in Straits Settlements, 1894, p.177). Similarly in Hong Kong, E. J. Eitel, the Inspector of Schools, argued that by studying Chinese classics, students learn "a system of morality, not merely a doctrine, but a living system of ethics." Thus they learn "filial piety, respect for the aged, respect for authority, respect for the moral law". In the Government schools, by contrast, where English books are taught from which religious education is excluded, "no morality is implanted in the boys" (Report, 1882, p.70). Thus, the teaching of Chinese is "of higher advantage to the Government" and "boys strongly imbued with European civilization whilst cut away from the restraining influence of Confucian ethics lose the benefits of education, and the practical experience of Hongkong is that those who are thoroughly imbued with the foreign spirit, are bad in morals" (p.70).

We need to understand, therefore, the language effects of colonialism not only in terms of promotion of colonial languages but also in terms of the construction and use of vernacular languages for colonial purposes. Christian missionaries, for example,