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Cross-Language Relations in Composition

Edited by Bruce Horner. Min-Zhan Lu, and Paul Kei Matsuda

Publication Year: 2010

Leading scholars in composition, education, and literacy studies critique the English monolingualism dominating the study and teaching of college composition and pursue approaches that embrace the multilingualism and that pose cross-language writing as the norm for teaching and research.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Book Title

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

We are grateful to the National Council of Teachers of English for granting us permission to reprint the following essays: Min-Zhan Lu, “Living-English Work,” College English 68.6, July 2006, copyright 2006 by the National Council of Teachers of English; Paul Kei Matsuda, “The Myth of Linguistic Homogeneity in U.S. College Composition,” College English 68.6, July 2006, copyright 2006 by the National Council of Teachers of English. We are grateful to the National Council of Teachers of English for also granting ...

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Introduction: From “English Only” to Cross-Language Relations in Composition

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pp. 1-17

This collection participates in an emerging movement within composition studies representing, and responding to, changes in and changing perceptions of language(s), English(es), students, and the relations of all these to one another. This movement critiques the tacit policy of “English Only” dominating composition and pursues teaching and research that resist that policy. ...

Part One: Struggling with “English Only” in Composition

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pp. 19

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1. Linguistic Memory and the Uneasy Settlement of U.S. English

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pp. 21-41

Opponents of English Only legislation often argue that the great wisdom of the Founding Fathers is that they made no national language policy, whether through legislating an official language or establishing a corpusplanning language academy along the lines of the Académie française, which John Adams and others proposed. In such accounts, the Founding Fathers’ non-institutional stance—their refusal to give official status to ...

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2. Living-English Work

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pp. 42-56

In “American English: Quest for a Model,” Shirley Brice Heath reminds us that efforts to standardize English have been around since the beginning of our nationhood. John Adams, in a series of letters to the Continental Congress and in the midst of his mission to gain money for continuing the American Revolution, proposed that an institution be formed and charged with two responsibilities: to prescribe a language ...

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3. Globalization, Guanxi, and Agency: Designing and Redesigning the Literacies of Cyberspace

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pp. 57-80

During the past twenty-five years, we have come to recognize with others (for example, Norris; Castells) that computer networks increasingly serve as sites within which people from around the world design and redesign their lives through literate practices. In both global and local contexts, the relationships among digital technologies, language, literacy, and an array of opportunities ...

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4. The Myth of Linguistic Homogeneity in U.S. College Composition

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pp. 81-96

In “English Only and U.S. College Composition,” Bruce Horner and John Trimbur identify the tacit policy of unidirectional English monolingualism, which makes moving students toward the dominant variety of English the only conceivable way of dealing with language issues in composition instruction. This policy of unidirectional monolingualism is an important concept to critique because it accounts for the relative lack of attention to multilingualism in the composition scholarship. ...

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5. “English Only,” African American Contributions to Standardized Communication Structures, and the Potential for Social Transformation

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pp. 97-112

In examining “English Only” as it relates to the many language varieties in America, the model that surfaces is a center-periphery model. In this view, all official business of the U.S. government and courts, including proceedings and interactions (involving spoken and written language), will employ only English. The ideological force of English Only encourages public and private identities, wherein it does not matter if English is one’s first, second, or third ...

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6. Spanglish as Alternative Discourse: Working against Language Demarcation

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pp. 113-126

The practice of segregating students in writing classes according to their language, which Paul Kei Matsuda has called “linguistic containment” (this volume), is based on the assumption that a clear line of demarcation can be drawn between the languages that people speak. This assumption is expressed in labels such as “first language,” “second language,” “native speaker,” “non-native speaker,” and so on. These binaries fail to describe ...

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7. There’s No Translation for It: The Rhetorical Sovereignty of Indigenous Languages

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pp. 127-141

When Europeans arrived to the place they eventually named America, there were 300 indigenous languages spoken north of the Rio Grande, and these represented some 50 different language families. By contrast, Europe had only three language families: Indo-European, Finno-Ugric, and Basque. Linguists have since counted over 40 languages in the Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit language family, 30 in the Algonquian-Ritwan family, 30 in the Uto-Aztecan, ...

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8. Discourse Tensions, Englishes, and the Composition Classroom

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pp. 142-157

The thrust of much of the debate on what has been variously called “alternative discourse,” “mixed forms,” “hybrid language,” or even my own term “academic interlanguage” (Nero) has been couched in terms of dilemmas, conflicting goals, or tensions. Lisa Delpit begins her essay “The Politics of Teaching Literate Discourse” as follows: “I have encountered a certain sense of powerlessness and paralysis among many sensitive and well-meaning literacy ...

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9. A Rhetoric of Shuttling between Languages

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pp. 158-179

The dominant approaches to studying multilingual writing have been hampered by monolingualist assumptions that conceive literacy as a unidirectional acquisition of language competence, preventing us from fully understanding the resources multilinguals bring to their texts. According to the monolingualist assumption, writing in a second language mimics the process of writing in the first language. Therefore, the processes by which native ...

Part Two: Responses to Struggling with “English Only” in Composition

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pp. 181

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10. Ownership of Language and the Teaching of Writing

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pp. 183-188

Language is dynamic, fluid, ever changing. Attempts to regulate it and fix it in time will always fail. Attempts to disparage certain language dialects or the users of those dialects and to privilege users of others have all too often succeeded. Electronic communication has further erased linguistic borders and exposed the absurdity of projects to mandate and legislate national languages. So what’s a twenty-first-century writing teacher to do? ...

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11. Why Don’t We Speak with an Accent? Practicing Interdependence-in-Difference

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pp. 189-195

As I was thinking of how best to begin this response, I came across, almost serendipitously, this story reported in the 17 July 2008 on-line issue of USA Today. Manuel Castillo, a California truck driver and a permanent U.S. resident, was headed back to California from picking up onions in Glennville, Georgia. He was stopped in west Alabama for a routine inspection and fined, with a maximum penalty of $500, for violating a federal law requiring that anyone with a commercial driver’s license speak English well enough to converse with police. ...

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12. The Challenges and Possibilities of Taking Up Multiple Discursive Resources in U.S. College Composition

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pp. 196-203

In announcing the theme for the 2008 Conference on College Composition and Communication, “Writing Realities, Changing Realities,” program chair Charles Bazerman called on participants to “inquire how writing reveals our histories, inscribes facts, and makes realities available for thought and deliberation.” Similarly, in her 2004 Braddock Award–winning essay, “An Essay on the Work of Composition: Composing English against the Order of Fast Capitalism,” Min-Zhan Lu calls on scholars and teachers of writing to be ...

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13. Mapping the Cultural Ecologies of Language and Literacy

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pp. 204-211

Implicitly or explicitly, we writers chart our way through language, culture, and multiple spheres of belonging to position ourselves in a world of relationships. We write to navigate our way through the people, ideas, places, resources, and work that constitute our local and global communities. Juan C. Guerra calls us all “transcultural citizens” (296). I like that notion—this emphasis on the idea of movement, migration, transition. It aligns with the ...

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14. Language Diversity and the Responsibility of the WPA

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pp. 212-220

As a writing teacher and writing program administrator, I often find myself struggling to respond to a perplexing dilemma: the more I understand about my students’ complex linguistic backgrounds and literacy histories, the more I question the long-accepted practices and assumptions of the profession. I question the ways in which we structure programs, place students into classes, design curricula, and prepare graduate students. Shondel J. Nero ...

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15. Resistance to the “English Only” Movement :Implications for Two-Year College Composition

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pp. 221-229

This collection is not just timely but overdue. The implications for two-year college teaching and scholarship are profound, and perhaps that is why I, a former chair of the Two-Year College English Association, have been asked to write a response. I do not claim to speak for all community college writing faculty, but I am certain that many will share my excitement in exploring how this research can inform our pedagogy. I believe this collection will initiate ...

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16. In Praise of Incomprehension

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pp. 230-235

The most significant achievement of the chapters in part 1 of this volume is that they bring attention back to language; such sustained attention has not been the focus of the field’s energies since the years immediately following the Students’ Right to Their Own Language resolution. Cross-language work demonstrates that rhetorical concerns of purpose, argument, and ethos are animated through language choices. Yet how cross-language relations can be ...

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17. Sustainable Writing

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pp. 236-243

All my thoughts now about writing are inspired by taking literally what I used to think was a metaphor—the ecology of writing. Ecology was how I first encountered what is now commonly known as complexity theory, and for me the environmental forms of complexity are still the most accessible. The understanding I’ve come to is that writing is structured and given life by the same dynamics that structure all living systems and that the most significant aspect of systems that thrive or survive is their complexity, that is, complexity in a particular sense that I will define presently. ...

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18. Reflections

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pp. 244-248

I’m troubled that this conversation still goes on, that the matter hasn’t been settled, that there still remain attempts at what Arnold Kemp calls “genopsycholinguisticide,” genocide through language. And so I find myself reacting to what I’ve just read by thinking of what’s already been said, finding that the chapters that so wonderfully tell of living language and multilingualism and language legislation and pedagogy all recap, in some sense, even as I learn of the English of Sri Lanka and travel a Sino-American cyberhighway. ...


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pp. 251-254


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pp. 255-262

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809385751
E-ISBN-10: 0809385759
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329823
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329824

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 1 B/w halftone, 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mackey, Alison, ǂe editor of compilation.
  • Language and culture.
  • Rhetoric -- Social aspects.
  • English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching.
  • English language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching.
  • Report writing -- Study and teaching.
  • You have access to this content
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  • Open Access
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