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Intelligibility in World Englishes: Theory and Application - Essay Example

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Written in six chapters with a total of 149 pages, the book includes notes from Chapters 2 to 6 and an annotated bibliography of seven books written by diverse authors who are deemed authoritative on the subject of world Englishes. …
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Intelligibility in World Englishes: Theory and Application
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Book Review: “Intelligibility in World Englishes: Theory and Application” Review by: Ahmed Alzahrani ENGL 754/854: World Englishes in Composition &Applied Linguistics Dr. Gloria Park October 30, 2012 “Intelligibility in World Englishes: Theory and Application” Nelson, C. L. (2011). Intelligibility in World Englishes: Theory and Application. New York: Taylor & Francis. Pp. xiii + 149 The theoretical framework that provided the impetus for Cecil L. Nelson to write the book was premised on the evolution of concepts pertaining to the world Englishes paradigm. The pioneering works written by Kachru and Smith (1985) and Bolton (n.d.) have explicitly qualified pluralizing English, to wit: “”Englishes” symbolizes the functional and formal variation in the language, and its international acculturation.. and in the traditional English-using countries… The language now belongs to those who use it as their first language, and to those who use it as an additional language, whether in its standard form or in its localized forms” (Kachru & Smith, 1985, p. 210; cited in Bolton, n.d., p. 368). As such, Nelson validly rationalized the need to expound and focus on one component of language which is deemed instrumental in offering an in-depth understanding of world Englishes, per se, through dissecting and illuminating on the concept of intelligibility. Accordingly, Nelson indicated that intelligibility espouses efforts to understand varieties of Englishes through a closer examination of what is written, what is being heard, and what is currently being practiced in a global sphere. Written in six chapters with a total of 149 pages, the book includes notes from Chapters 2 to 6 and an annotated bibliography of seven books written by diverse authors who are deemed authoritative on the subject of world Englishes. Chapter 1 aptly entitled “Understanding” and Intelligibility in World Englishes provided the conceptual overview of the world Englishes paradigm through the support of pioneering experts on the endeavor. From among the relevant concepts that were discussed in the chapter, the following are noteworthy: the three circles of World Englishes (WE) comprised of the English speaking regions classified into Inner Circle, Outer Circle and the Expanding Circle; and the Smith Framework for intelligibility. Chapter 2 presented an extensive differentiation of three components of language: intelligibility, comprehensibility and interpretability allegedly from the framework created and written by Larry Smith (1983). Chapter 3 focused on the topics of hybridity, creativity and intelligibility through the formation of adapted and new forms of English as a result of a combination of different constructs; where pure English was deciphered in contrast to differentiating degrees of hybridity and the concept of multiculturalism in WE. Chapter 4, entitled “Other Conceptualizations of Intelligibility” provided readers with greater understanding of the three components of language through the support of providing alternative definitions of the terms from the perspectives of other authors such as Van der Walt (2000), and Munro et al. (2006) who introduced the term accentedness to augment support to understanding intelligibility and comprehensibility. Chapter 5 takes into relating the concepts on intelligibility to the perspectives of English Language Teaching (ELT) where the challenges of teaching include the need for cultural awareness and the strategic use of WE literatures to develop competencies on intelligibility. Finally, Chapter 6 looks into the current and future trends in WE as a prelude to taking a proactive stance in determining the role that WE play in intelligibility in the near future. As explicitly disclosed, the aim of the author in writing the book was to present relevant and crucial concepts relating to intelligibility to a specified target audience composed of both undergraduate and graduate students specializing in English and the WE paradigm; as well as educators who are faced with challenges in credibly seeking appropriate support for the evolving transcendence on the use of varied Englishes all over the world. Through the use of effective rhetorical elements that integrate logical, emotional and credible appeal, the author clearly achieved his intent. Presented in a clear format, structure, and expert use of language; in conjunction with the use of reliable support, as well as vivid examples that illuminate the points being contended, Nelson created a book that parallels the creation of scholars who pioneered on this particular field of endeavor. As contended by Smith, who wrote the foreword, “because of this book, I am convinced that in the future when the classic scholars of intelligibility are listed, i.e. Catford (1950), Bansal (1969), and B. Kachru (1976), Cecil Nelson (2011) will be among them” (Nelson, 2011, p. ix). The strengths of the book include effective provision of basic; yet explicit overview and theoretical frameworks for the concepts being discussed. Likewise, as recognized by the author, since the evolution of WE is dynamic and continuous, opportunities are seen for future volumes and updates on the subject; potentially to expound on the other components of language such as comprehensibility and interpretability, as deemed necessary. If there was any weakness noted, it falls in terms of the need to provide varied and complex support for terminologies and instructional approaches and models that could be ambiguously confusing. It would thereby take time and effort to imbibe these concepts across academic disciplines and depending on the interests of the readers. Overall, the book is highly beneficial to educator and students of English language as it significantly contributed to advancing the pedagogical pursuit. Students would be accorded with vast opportunities to enhance their knowledge of the concepts that were learned by engaging their participation in varied activities. These activities could range from posting and responding to discussion questions; writing short essays that relate personal reflections on topics which were discussed; as well as perceptions for current and future implications as these concepts are seen to be applied in contemporary settings. Active involvement in debates could be explored to solicit points of views on controversial issues pertaining to challenges of teaching WE literatures, for instance; or requiring group presentations to innovatively create role-playing scenarios and designing program proposals to promote teaching WE using technological applications. Scholars and researchers who require comprehensive and objective information on the subject to intelligibility in WE would be most appreciative to be accorded with the experience of being illumined and enriched by the depth of theoretical and practical applications proffered by the author. Readers would therefore look forward to anticipating future volumes as trends in WE continue to progress. References Bansal, R. K. (1969) The Intelligibility of Indian English: Measurements of the Intelligibility of Connected Speech, and Sentence and Word Material, Presented to Listeners of Different Nationalities. Hyderabad: Central Institute of English. Bolton, K. (n.d.). 15 World Englishes. Retrieved from http://202.117.148.226/yy/uploadfiles/201006/20100606102222978.pdf Catford, J. C. (Ian) (1950). Intelligibility, English Language Teaching 1, 7–15. Kachru, B. B. (1976). Models of English for the Third World: White Man’s Linguistic Burden or Language Pragmatics? TESOL Quarterly 10, 221–39. Kachru, B. B. & Smith, L. E. (1985). Editorial. World Englishes, 4, 209–12. Nelson, C. L. (2011). Intelligibility in World Englishes: Theory and Application. New York: Taylor & Francis. Smith, L. (1983). English as an international auxiliary language. In Larry E. Smith (ed.), Readings in English as an International Language (pp. 1–5). Oxford: Pergamon. Read More
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