English as a language always in translation

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Journal Article
European Journal of English Studies, 2008, 12 (1), pp. 33 - 47
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© 2008 Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. The global enterprise of English language teaching (ELT) ought to present the possibility of bringing millions of people into the global traffic of meaning. Yet it does not do so because global ELT is paradoxically viewed as a monolingual enterprise. Both the pedagogy that underpins much of this spread and the ways in which the global spread of English has been described and resisted emphasize English as a language that operates only in its own presence. Overlooked are the ways in which English always needs to be seen in the context of other languages, as a language always in translation. Yet if we wish to take global diversity seriously, we would do well to focus on semiodiversity (the diversity of meanings) as much as glossodiversity (the diversity of languages), and to do so by taking up a project of translingual activism as part of ELT. If students are to enter the global traffic of meaning, translation needs to become central to what we do.
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