Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Place of World Englishes in Composition

Canagarajah, S. (2006). The place of World Englishes in composition: pluralization continued. College Composition and Communication, 57(4), 586-619.

Abstract: Contesting the monolingual assumption in composition, this article identifies textual and pedagogical spaces for World Englishes in academic writing. It presents code meshing as a  strategy for merging local varieties with Standard Written English in a move toward gradually pluralizing academic writing and developing multilingual competence for transnational relationships.

I think in this article, Canagarajah makes a very strong argument against the monolingual classroom assumption and why both native and nonnative speakers of English need to have multilingual competence in a global world. Of course I do not know much about World Englishes and I do not have any formal training about how to implement WE framework to first year composition classroom. I do not think there is a consensus on how to do that. For example, Canagarajah writes,
"The moment is ripe to extend my argument of pluralizing English and academic writing into the "deep structure" of grammar. Still, I must confess that I am myself unsure how to practice what I preach" (p. 613). 
I like it when people are honest like this and do not pretend to know everything about everything. Nobody does and nobody has to. Anyway, check out Canagarajah's blog for how WE plays out in academic publications. I will be taking a WE course next semester and hope to learn more about this topic.
Paul Matsuda also makes a case against the monolingualism assumption in composition classes and extends the arguments of Horner and Trimbur (2002) like Canagarajah does. For a historical account of some possible reasons of this assumption see
Matsuda, P. K. (2006). The myth of linguistic homogeneity in U.S. college composition. College English, 68(6), 637-651.

I think Matsuda and Canagarajah's article complement each other to a certain extent because while Matsuda provides a historical account Canagarajah's arguments are about the future, though to my best knowledge their arguments concerning the place of WE in composition are different. Paul Matsuda also has a blog in case you are interested. I have mentioned Canagarajah and Matsuda's blogs before but I thought it would be nice to mention them again.

Horber, B. & Trimbur, J. (2002). English only and U.S. college composition. College Composition and Communication, 53, 594-630.

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