Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 17:55:11 -0500 From: Laura Callahan Subject: The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader
EDITORS: Harris, Roxy; Rampton, Ben TITLE: The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor & Francis) YEAR: 2003
Laura Callahan, The City College of New York
This volume contains twenty-five papers first published between 1921 and 2003; the majority were written within the last twenty years. All treat some aspect of the relationship between language and ethnicity and/or race, some from opposing positions. The book is divided into three sections, each with its own introduction. In addition, there is an introduction to the collection as a whole, which includes tables situating the papers according to stance as well as geographic and institutional focus. Original notes and references are placed at the end of each paper; cross references between the papers appear in footnotes. There are author and subject indices for the entire collection. The editors have shortened some of the articles and added footnotes with explanations of terminology; in some cases sentences from the original text have been reworded. More specialized readers are directed to the articles' primary sources.
Section One: Colonialism, Imperialism and Global Process
1. Otto Jespersen (1922) The origin of speech. Jespersen presents primitive vs. evolved forms of language as offering a series of oppositions between song and speech, the concrete vs. the abstract and pure emotion vs. rational thought.
2. Edward Sapir (1921) Language, race and culture. Sapir outlines a rejection of causal connections between race, culture and language, at the same time tackling the difficult task of defining what is covered under the first two terms.
3. Bill Ashcroft (2001) Language and race. Ashcroft traces the links made over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries between language and race, especially in philological theory. He examines the use of language to locate race in color terms.
4. Mervyn Alleyne (1989) Language in Jamaican culture. Alleyne discusses the origins of current language varieties in Jamaica from an African substrate stance, with particular attention to the sociolinguistic factors in their formation.
5. Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1986) The language of African literature. Thiong'o makes a case for African literature to be written in African languages, arguing that language is a carrier of culture. He points out that the use of European languages automatically excludes the majority of the population from many spheres of influence.
6. Alumin Mazrui (1997) The World Bank, the language question and the future of African education. Mazrui discusses the World Bank's conflicting statements and practices affecting indigenous language education. He concludes that World Bank and IMF policies are designed to perpetuate former colonial powers' economic dominance in Africa.
7. Randolph Quirk (1990) Language varieties and standard language. Quirk notes ESL teaching situations worldwide in which Standard English has lost its supreme status. He argues against this trend on the grounds that Standard as opposed to other varieties of English is indispensable for social and economic advancement.
8. Ben Rampton (1990) Displacing the 'native speaker': expertise, affiliation and inheritance. Rampton discusses the difficulties of defining native speakerhood, and proposes a set of criteria with distinctions between competence and sociolinguistic identities.
Section Two: Nation-states and Minorities
9. Joshua Fishman (1972) The impact of nationalism on language planning. Fishman pinpoints modernization, authentification and uniformation as conflicting forces in language planning in the service of nationalism, using Turkey and France as examples.
10. Michael Billig (1995) Banal nationalism. Billig examines signs of routine, banal nationalism and flagged nationalism. The latter type surfaces on national holidays and in response to extraordinary events. He discusses nationalism vs. patriotism; the first is associated with national agression and the second with national self-love.
11. Ray Honeyford (1988) The language issue in multi-ethnic English schools. Honeyford questions whether all dialects of English are suitable for complex tasks, and whether a failure to acquire Standard English is responsible for West Indian and other ethnic minority children's low achievement scores in British schools.
12. John Rickford (1997) Suite for ebony and phonics. Rickford presents a brief exposition, accessible to non-linguists, of the features and possible origins of African American Vernacular English, and clarifies the 1997 Oakland, California school board decision regarding the use of contrastive analysis between AAVE and Standard American English.
13. Wendy Bokhorst-Heng. Singapore's Speak Mandarin campaign: Language ideological debates and the imagining of the nation. Bokhorst-Heng examines governmental efforts to shape national identity through language prescription. Mandarin is promoted over other Chinese dialects, to foster unity and to preserve culture, and to prevent English from becoming the only lingua franca among the Chinese community in Singapore.
14. Roger Hewitt (1992) Language, youth and the destabilisation of ethnicity. Hewitt discusses young people's language uses that are driven by desires to announce both internal and external cultural identities-- identities that do not always coincide with the user's ethnicity. 15. Jane H. Hill (1995) Mock Spanish, covert racism and the (leaky) boundary between public and private spheres. Hill demonstrates how the use of Spanish loan words or English words inflected with Spanish affixes are used to make racist references to Hispanics under the cover of humor.
16. Jacqueline Urla (1995) Outlaw language: Creating alternative public spheres in Basque free radio. Urla reports on the free radio movement in the Basque Country, in which young Basques air locally relevant programs. The tension between Basque and Castilian gives rise to the practice Hill (essay 15) describes, except in this case it is the minority language speakers who parody the dominant language speakers. 17. Monica Heller (1999) Alternative ideologies and la Francophonie. Using the case of a French-language minority high school in Ontario, Heller examines who has the power to decide and define the legitimate language of international communication and which local languages are valued as commodities.
Section Three: Language, Discourse and Ethnic Style
18. Benjamin Lee Whorf (c. 1936) An American Indian model of the universe. Whorf translates the Hopi conceptualization of what in European languages is known as time and space into terms of what is manifest and objective vs. unmanifest and subjective.
19. Susan U. Philips (1972) Participant structures and communicative competence: Warm Springs children in community and classroom. Philips highlights differences between Native American and non-Indian communities' rules for verbal interaction, for the demonstration of achievement and for the way individuals are accorded authority, and discusses ways to keep such differences from negatively affecting Indian children's progress in school.
20. John Gumperz (1979) Cross-cultural communication. In an interview during the filming of Crosstalk, a cross-cultural communication training film, Gumperz explains the need for awareness of differences in the use of tone of voice, directness and politeness formulas by British, Asian and West Indians using English.
21. R. P. McDermott and Kenneth Gospodinoff (1979) Social contexts for ethnic borders and school failure. McDermott and Gospodinoff argue that differences in communicative styles are not the cause of school failure, but rather that these differences are emphasized by children as a reaction to organizational problems. They offer an analysis of one incident in a New York City classroom to illustrate their thesis.
22. John Gumperz and Eduardo Hernandez-Chavez (1972) Bilingual code- switching. Gumperz and Hernandez-Chavez maintain that the use of more than one language or dialect within a conversation or conversational turn communicates meaning that is dependent on a complex set of social factors.
23. John Taggart Clark (2003) Abstract inquiry and the patrolling of Black/White borders through linguistic stylization. Clark describes African American high school students' marking, via satirical imitation, of their African American teacher's pronunciation and rhetorical style as being a white and outgroup style.
24. Cecilia Cutler (1999) Yorkville crossing: White teens, hip hop and African American English. Cutler presents a longitudinal study of a white teenager who uses features of AAVE pronunciation and hip hop vocabulary.
25. Les Back (1995) X amount of sat siri akal!: Apache Indian, reggae music and intermezzo culture. Back postulates the formation of a culture in which boundaries are transcended, represented by a fusion of South Asian and African Caribbean linguistic elements in music.
The Language, Ethnicity and Race Reader is a highly versatile resource that will be useful to scholars in education, sociolinguistics, the sociology of language and ethnic studies. The presentation in one source of this many essays, including earlier works for a diachronic perspective and contrasting viewpoints, is especially appreciated.
In the general introduction, Harris and Rampton give the rationale for their ordering of the papers, which are divided into three sections, "moving from phenomena and processes that are longer and larger down into ones that are smaller and briefer" (p. 2). This arrangement is successful, as the reader does indeed come away with a sense of having gone from the macro to the micro. Some of the major themes treated are, in Section One, "the links between language, race, culture and development" (p. 15); in Section Two, language and national identity and language and the creation of nations; and in Section Three, racial, cultural and ethnic authenticity; the maintenance of group boundaries and the appropriation of speech forms developed by and/or associated with another group.
The editorial modifications mentioned in the Overview section of this review are meant to make the book accessible to a wider audience. The footnotes explaining linguistic terms will be particularly welcome in interdisciplinary courses. However, a proliferation of the brackets used to indicate where there has been abbreviation and re-wording is a distraction in some of the papers that makes for uneven reading. This is a small criticism however, and the inclusion of so wide a range of articles, which might not have been possible otherwise, more than compensates for any inconvenience.
The book's title points to an important issue: though race and ethnicity are often treated as synonymous, from the perspective of the individuals in question they may be quite separate. Language introduces another factor to the equation, especially when an incongruence arises between the languages spoken or not spoken by a person and his or her ethnicity or race.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Laura Callahan is Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the City College, City University of New York (CUNY), and Research Fellow at the Research Institute for the Study of Language in an Urban Society at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her current work focuses on language choice in interethnic communication.