The fruits of polemics – Quirk, Kachru, Singh

The critical thrill of learning from plunging into a debate. The grey literature of debates,  polemics, responses. Here Prendergast – why how ? – entrepreneur of a debte on « Views on englishes », 1998, ie at the end of what seems to be a 1990s decade of world englishes as emergent theme in linguistics and sociolinguistics.

What you learn from those edges. Once you have familiarised yourself with the genre – my initiation with Wyndham Lewis was a salutary shock out of the mythology of Modernism. Then FR Leavis, and Taguieff, et al.

So here the classic dynamics of :

. The Cassandras : Quirk, and the Culture Warriors of the late 80s US

. Their denunciator(s) : Kachru, with « Caliban’s creativity » and World Englishes and its strong institutional power on linguistics discourse

. And the denunciators’ denunciators : Singh here, with sharp distinctions make possible by the earlier set-up of the confrontation. Unpicking the optimisms of the liberal attitudes, as inscribed explicitly in Kachru in the ironizing about Quirk’s bitter description of « liberation linguistics ». Utopia of relativism, culturalism ultimately, and the counter argument of the bite of power. Which is able to underline the ideological function of the appeal to literature as ally and argument, and to language as (exclusively) socializing and acculturative.


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