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Re: mono-lingualism is curable

Just to add to Robert's bibliography,the name of wa Thiong'o is Ngugi and
there are also other books by him which you may want to read, for example
"Decolonizing the Mind", and his last "Gunpoints, Penpoints and Dreams",
about the state of art and the art of the state.
Laura Biagi

On Fri, 4 Jun 1999, Robert Phillipson wrote:

> I suppose it is about time that I entered the fray, since Rainer
> was kind enough to consult me about the desirability of a forum
> on language policy, language diversity, language and politics.
> And my wife, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas's T-shirt slogans seem to have
> triggered a wide range of responses. Surely this is the function
> of a punch-line of that sort - rather than subjecting such
> "texts" to scrutiny for the scientific validity or speculating on
> their function in social struggles?
> Whether the slogan can promote a cause or not is very much a
> question of the individual's perception. If you happen to come
> froma dominant, often monolingual, group, your sensitivity to
> language issues and language rights may well differ markedly from
> that of a minority language speaker - or a stigmatized dialect
> (Pygmalion). Thus as hierarchisation by means of language was a
> cornerstone of apartheid (English and Afrikaans as the only
> official languages), it is not surprising that all South
> Africans, "black" and "white", are sensitive to language issues.
> The Constitution now recognizes 11 official languages, plus a
> range of others that are part of a religious or ethnic heritage.
> Which of course does not mean that all individuals or
> institutions are expected to function in all 11, or that everyone
> there can see that English currently opens more doors than
> others. Language policy therefore reflects a both/and philosophy
> rather than an either/or, as does bilingual education worldwide.
> Many of the questions raised by contributors so far are matters
> on which there is an extensive literature, for example
> encyclopedias of bilingualism, books on the sociology of
> language, sociolinguistics of various sorts, language planning,
> ethnicity and language, language and power, discourse analysis -
> the list of academic specialisations is substantial. I am not
> trying to convert this forum into an academic one, but merely to
> point out that the questions have been of concern for decades.
> Thus the point about bilingual brains is that those who grow up
> with two ways of seeing, understanding and influencing the world,
> and of formulating themselves, are more cognitively and
> culturally flexible, they have the benefits of divergent
> thinking, they are more likely to be cross-culturally sensitive.
> Elite bilingualism has reflected this for millenia, and still
> does. Much of the debate about multilingualism is snarled up by
> prejudices about specific languages, and their supposed
> limitations, which result in hierachisation which is intended to
> keep some people at the bottom of the social pile.
> Calvet is right therefore (salut, Louis-Jean, on se verra a Tokyo
> le mois d'octobre, je suis tres heureux pour que tu as propose ma
> participation au colloque; end of personal intervention, which
> suffers from the fact that the e-mail discriminates against the
> accents of French and other languages) when he talks about the
> colonised learning the language of the coloniser. Yes, but if
> like Caliban in Shakespeare's "The Tempest", you learn the
> dominant language in order to curse, that does not change power
> relations.
> Interaction between specialists who plead the cause of
> multilingualism/bilingualism and the general public is a fraught
> issue, which the Californian vote on Proposition 227 shows
> clearly. Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean-American writer, recently
> published a wonderful book, "Heading South, looking North: a
> bilingual journey" (Penguin, 1998), which is a "New York Times
> Notable Book". But when he wrote a short article in the New York
> Times entitled "If only we could all speak two languages", he was
> at the receiving end of a torrent of denunciation and hate mail.
> Evidently to suggest that Americans might benefit by being
> bilingual (which, of course, is what millions of minority
> language speakers have been throughout the history of the US) is
> un-American and can justify a McCarthyite response. Plus ca
> change...
> Yes, language matters raise powerful emotions. Meaning that
> language loyalty can be used or misused by public figures,
> demagogues of all kinds, just as religion and other marks of
> ethnicity can.
> The relationship between linguistic diversity and other types of
> diversity, biological, cultuyral and spiritual, is of concern to
> the organization Terralingua, and I recommend its web page:
> http://cougar.ucdavis.edu/nas/terralin/home.html
> It is probably invidious to select a few titles, but among the
> most relevant in relation to the discussion so far are
>    Bailey, Richard W. 1991 Images of English: A cultural history
> of the language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
>    Muehlh,usler, Peter 1996 Linguistic ecology. Language change
> and linguistic imperialism in the Pacific region, Routledge,
> London.
>    NgTaugTau wa Thiong'o 1993 Moving the centre. The struggle for
> cultural freedoms, London: James Currey, and Portsmouth, NH:
> Heinemann.
>    Pennycook, Alastair 1994 The cultural politics of English as
> an international language, Harlow: Longman.
>    Phillipson, Robert 1992 Linguistic imperialism, Oxford :
> Oxford University Press.
>    LANGTAG Report 1996. Towards a national language plan for
> South Africa. Final Report of the Language Plan Task Group
> (LANGTAG) , presented to the Minister of Arts, Culture, Science
> and Technology, 8 August 1995 (chair Neville Alexander).
> Pretoria.
>    Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (ed.) 1995 Multilingualism for all,
> Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.
>    Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove & Robert Phillipson (eds.) 1994
> Linguistic human rights: Overcoming linguistic discrimination,
> Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter
> and for those interested in the European scene, and who feel
> distressed, provoked, challenged, pissed off or whatever by a
> slogan in any connecting monolingualism with stupidity (which no-
> one has ever suggested a causal link between) prescribed reading
> is:
> "Einsprachigkeit ist heilbar, Monolingualism is curable, Le
> monolinguisme est curable", thematic issue of "Sociolinguistica,
> International Yarbook of European Sociolinguistics", Tubingen:
> Niemeyer, ed. Ulrich Ammon, Klaus Mattheier & Peter Nelde, 1997.
> Auf wiederlesen, see you, a la prochaine, ha det godt (yes,
> Danish obviously belongs too)
> Robert Phillipson
> Department of Languages and Culture
> University of Roskilde
> Denmark.