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ERIC Number: ED334588
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-Mar
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Non-Native Speakers: Problems of Language Usage.
Narain, Mona
Writing teachers need to recognize the special circumstances of culturally displaced students. A specific category of such students are those from the Asian subcontinent, who are not exactly non-native speakers of English, but who do speak non-standard American English. These students occupy a subaltern (marginal) position: they can neither be identified with native nor with non-native speakers. The "in-between" spaces of language ability of these subaltern students occur because they have access to three distinct and disparate idioms of the English language--prescriptive British English, native idiomatic spoken English, and standard American English. The different idioms of English cause three levels of confusion for the students: (1) the need to choose between using the familiar passive voice and the alien, assertive, active voice used in the American style; (2) confusions regarding their self and self-identity, as their conception of the interiority of the self is different from the Western-Anglo concept; and (3) rampant confusion regarding language usage creating a disorientation and alienation peculiar to their situation. Strategies for teaching subaltern students must acknowledge cultural boundaries as thresholds that must be crossed, erased, and translated in the course of cultural production and meaningful discourse. While some suggest grouping speakers of non-standard English with the non-native speakers (both are learning to write academic English), others argue against working towards the mastery of some particular, well-defined sort of discourse. The latter advocate encouraging an awareness of and pleasure in the various competing student discourses. (PRA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A