Lu, Min-Zhan. “Living-English Work.” College English 68 6 (2006): 605-18. Print.

  • Lu begins by acknowledging that most monolingualist English-only efforts are politically motivated and involve “geopolitical, economic, and cultural transactions” (605).  Individuals who hope to use English in monolingualist environments are preoccupied by two questions:  “What counts as correct usage in the eyes of those in positions to withhold educational and job opportunities?” and “How might I best learn to work English strictly according to these rulings?”
  • Monolingualist policies typically say two things about proper English use:  it is accent-free and it will enable its users to more successively participate in the global capitalist marketplace (607).  This means that as writing/English teachers we are often tools of the hypercapitalist machine, asks to contribute to the capitalist “biopolitical structuring of the world” (Lu 607, Hardt and Negri 32).  Because of this complicity, Lu urges Writing Studies folks two questions:  1)  What gross actions and inactions on our part might have directly and indirectly pressured users of English to see symbolic and surgical fixes as the only viable resolution to their own and their children’s tongue-tied feelings?; and 2) How might we best go about problematizing English-only rulings on the uses and users (Kachru) of English? (607).
  • Chinese term for “language” is yuyan.  The term is made up of two parts and connotes images of a “living language” (608).
  • Four lines of inquiry posed against monolingualist, English-only instructions/institutions:
    • While English-only instruction often trumpets the benefit of English use in communication, education, and the capitalist marketplace, it often does not recognize what English-only instruction does to peoples, cultures, and societies whose language practices don’t match standardized English usage (608).  This is especially apparent when considering how capital functions in concert with the English language.
    • English only instruction doesn’t or cannot recognize the potentialities of language to represent different social and historical experiences that shape our relationship with other individuals.  Said differently, if Standardized English usage can’t show the “meaningful connections” across experiences and circumstances of life, then it is an affront to identity.  This education can’t represent people in their wholeness when it refuses to bend to the experiences of other speakers of non-Standard English and other languages.
    • English-only instruction doesn’t allow individuals to put English into their own hands in order to use not merely imitate it.  This means that as teachers we should “fight for students’ right to fashion an English that bears the burden of experiences delegitimized by English-only usages. . . . [and] challenge ourselves to unlearn a ‘learned’ disposition:”  our encouragement of living-English use won’t necessarily interfere with students ability to learn English at all (610).
    • Tinkering with or playing with the standard structure/rules of English allows users to undermined the dominant hegemony of SE while at the same time doing English rather than merely imitating it.
  • US composition recognizes two assets – or critical resources – from individual English user s lives:  1) backgrounds with other discursive resources in other languages or other ways of using English; and 2) their interests in using English to articulate aspirations for life that are consistently delegitimized by the logic of global business but critical to the well-being of peoples bearing the cost of existing structures and relations of injustice” (611).

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