Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages

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Daragh Hayes


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).

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