Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Does CR care about WEs?


Y. Kachru (1995, 1999) critiqued traditional contrastive rhetoric as reducing English rhetoric to normative patterns based mainly on style manuals and textbooks. Furthermore, from the point of view of World Englishes, Y. Kachru critiqued contrastive rhetoric’s sole focus on the Inner Circle varieties of English as a point of reference and its failure to validate Outer Circle rhetorical varieties of English (i.e., English used in former British colonies). Furthermore, the tendency to define the expectations of ‘‘native speaker or reader’’ as the rhetorical ‘‘norm’’ reflects a prescriptive orientation that overlooks plurality within language groups and the blurred boundaries between them, which ironically contradicts Whorf’s anti-essentialist plea for  broadening perspectives of humankind through developing a deeper understanding of diverse cultures and languages.

The critique of traditional contrastive rhetoric from a perspective of World Englishes (Kachru, 1995, 1999) exemplifies the postmodern significance of diaspora and multiplicity. For example, Chinese diaspora poses a problem for assuming the existence of a single cultural rhetorical system or thought pattern in Chinese (Kowal, 1998).

As English continues to be seen as an ‘‘international’’ language par excellence (McKay, 2002) on the one hand, the localization of World Englishes (B.B. Kachru, 1986, 1997) has generated a variety of rhetorical practices on the other. Thus, it becomes increasingly vital for students to critique the positioning of English through problematizing: Whose language is English?, What English am I using?, When and why do I use it?, Is it a  language I perceive a need for within my present or future life?, etc

CONNOR 2005 (response)

Another criticism cited by Kubota and Lehner, related to the assumed norms of English, is misdirected. They  cite Yamuna Kachru, 1995 and Kachru, 1999 with regards to the point of view of World Englishes, who “critiqued contrastive rhetoric's sole focus on the Inner Circle rhetorical varieties of English as a point of reference and its failure to validate Outer Circle rhetorical varieties of English (i.e., English used in former British colonies)” (as cited in Kubota & Lehner, 2004, p. 10). Again, contrary to what Kubota and Lehner would like us to believe, contrastive rhetoric has been very aware of the point of view of World and International Englishes (see Connor, 1996, pp. 16–17). In fact, the last section of Connor's (1996) book, dealing with research directions, includes the study of international Englishes as one of the five major research directions guiding contrastive rhetoric work. Not only has the field dealt with the Outer Circle varieties of English but also with the expanding circle of EFL varieties, such as EuroEnglish, as providing emerging norms.

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