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By Sinfree Makoni, Alastair Pennycook

This ebook questions assumptions concerning the nature of language. assorted contexts from signal languages in Indonesia to literacy practices in Brazil, the authors argue that except we modify and reconstitute the ways that languages are taught and conceptualized, language experiences will be unable to enhance the social welfare of language clients.

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But with the introduction of Bahasa Indonesia – as part of the universalizing discourse of development – came particular notions of languageness. Consequently, formerly ‘language-free’ communities now had language. This does not of course imply that prior to the invention of Bahasa Indonesia, there were no languages in Indonesia; rather it suggests that the construction of Bahasa Indonesia required a radical shift in the conceptualization of what constitutes ‘language’. In a similar vein, but focusing on a different part of the world, Sinfree Makoni and Pedizasi Mashiri (Chapter 3) focus on the constructions of Shona and Tsonga in southern Africa.

It is common in both liberal and more critical approaches to issues in sociolinguistics to insist on plurality, sometimes strengthened by a concept of rights. Thus, there are strong arguments for mother tongue education, for an understanding of multilingualism as the global norm, for understanding the prevalence of code-switching in bilingual and multilingual communities, and for the importance of language rights to provide a moral and legal framework for language policies. Our position, however, is that although such arguments may be preferable to blinkered views that posit a bizarre and rare state of monolingualism as the norm, they nevertheless remain caught within the same paradigm.

They operate with a strategy of pluralization rather than questioning those inventions at the core of the discussion. Without strategies of disinvention, most discussions of language rights, mother tongue education, or code-switching reproduce the same concept of language that underpins all mainstream linguistic thought; multilingualism may, therefore, become a pluralization of monolingualism. Sonntag (2003: 25) makes a singular point when she argues that the rights-based approach to support for linguistic diversity and opposition to MLM\makoni &pennycook Proof 2a 24 August 2006 09:43:11 Color profile: Disabled Composite Default screen Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages 23 the English-Only movement ‘has not fundamentally altered the American projection of its vision of global English ...

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