Translingual entanglements of English
Journal article by Alastair Pennycook in World Englishes, published online February 2020.
Arguing that the social semiotic trajectory of translingual approaches – transcending what is generally seen as language – is equally, if not more, important than translingual approaches that seek to transcend divisions between named languages, this paper takes up the idea of entanglements of English as a way to understand the multiple ways English is connected to, and part of, the material world. World Englishes can usefully focus not just on the translingual relations among English and other languages but also among Englishes and other entanglements. A backstreet sign for an English school in the Philippines suggests an assemblage of cheap English, sexual desire, neoliberal goals, domestic workers, multilingual repertoires, Korean English frenzy, American colonialism, brownouts, call centres, racial hierarchies, global inequality, unequal resources, researcher subjectivity and tangled wires. Developing the ideas of assemblages and entanglements, this paper argues that new approaches to materiality and the interconnectedness of things can take us forward in a search for alternative ways of thinking about the distribution of unequal linguistic resources.
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