Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Commonwealth of Englishes

In the Spring term of 2008 (yes I am planning ahead) I will be teaching a course to A level students in realia:

Realia include objects used by educators to help students to better understand other cultures and real life situations. A teacher of a foreign language often employs realia to strengthen students' associations between words for everyday objects and the objects themselves. In many cases these objects are part of an instructional kit which includes a manual and is thus considered as being part of a documentary whole by librarians.

The portion of the course I will be teaching has been on British realia. I plan to make it into an introduction to the Commonwealth of Englishes. This is not going to be easy as it is only a short course and there is a lot to cover. I am Australian, I have travelled and worked in India, as well as visited and spent time in Britain. I am also an ADSL child. I will approach this subject with my own experiences in mind. I may work along the theme of 'Empire: For Better or Worse'. There are electronic resources, such as:

Inventing English: the history of English, from Beowulf to Eminem.
Evelyn Waugh called the English language a "potent intoxicant." It didn't get that way by accident. From Beowulf to Eminem, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Mark Twain and FDR and Elvis, English has been a wild communal project.
Loaded with earthy German and sensual French, demanding Latin, and hints of Arabic, English has been propelled by individual creative voices, and the way they heard and shaped the words in our mouths.
Guest for On Point is Seth Lerer, English and Comparative Literature professor at Stanford and author of "Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language".

Although it is a while away, I am beginning now to collect resources for a possible compendium and to work out a syllabus and exam format. Should be fun.

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