Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

The De-centering of Standard English through Indigenous Postcolonial Poetry

The De-centering of Standard English through Indigenous Postcolonial Poetry

Cherry Meyer

This paper has as its aim to examine how Standard English is de-centered through novel uses of English in poetry, specifically the poetry of indigenous peoples. Standard English, as it was imposed by the British Empire, was a tool for colonization in that it served to establish a “center” of formal education and globalized society, and “the other” of underprivileged, indigenous society. ‘Indigenous’ is defined to mean natives of a land, and ‘colonial’ or ‘postcolonial’ is those who were colonized by the British Empire. This is meant to exclude colonies where English is the first language, such as is the case in the United States or Canada. Colonial language imposition is an ideal setting to study language change because the use of the language did not develop naturally for these speakers. Rather, the language imposition is traumatic, so that the language standard is discriminatory and even awkward for indigenous users. To remedy this incongruence, novel uses and adaptations of English occur, some of which are examined in this paper. Further, as the language of international business and with a growing base of international users, the English used in England can no longer maintain its position of authority as ‘the standard.’ I include examples of poetry from Canadian Native Americans, Aboriginals of Australia, Indians and Caribbeans of African descent. Poetry is the chosen medium of language usage because the goal of the poet is to say as much as possible in as few words as possible. This criterion of brevity should lead to a concise sample of novel combinations of words and sounds. The emphasis is on free verse poetry because of its adaptability to local idioms and oral traditions.

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April 23, 2010 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

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    Pingback by Tweets that mention The De-centering of Standard English through Indigenous Postcolonial Poetry « Language and Societies -- Topsy.com | April 28, 2010 | Reply


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