Colonizing English

17 December 2008 at 4:53 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

The Philippine poet-critic-fictionist-professor Gemino “Jimmy” H. Abad has claimed repeatedly in various articles and lectures that a Filipino writer using English colonizes the language. It’s a good sound bite, an even better insight, and certainly one of the best critical ideas to come from postcolonial critics. Thanks to Braj Kachru, linguists have long recognized that English has moved from what they like to call the “inner circle” (we used to call it “native speakers”) to outer and expanding circles or to what is often called today “International English” (with every variety being more or less equal to each other, a sort of linguistic democratic ideal), but literary critics have been slow to use the same idea about the relationship of language to literature. Abad may have found the key to the issue of second language literature. Unfortunately, many Philippine writers writing in English do not even suspect that their English is, first, not at all American English, and second, may actually be subverting American English.

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