Lecture by Alastair Pennycook, February 15, 2005

Language Policy and the Ecological Turn

by Alastair Pennycook, Professor of Languages in Education, Faculty of Education, University of Technology, Sydney

Although the notion of language ecology has been both popular and productive as a way of understanding language and environment, drawing our attention to the ways in which languages are embedded in social, cultural, economic and physical ecologies, and operate in complex relations with each other, a critical exploration of the notion of language ecology points to the need to be very wary of the political consequences of biomorphic metaphors:  The enumeration, objectification andbilogisation of languages render them natural objects rather than cultural artefacts; linguistic diversity may be crucial to humans, but language diversity may not be its most important measure; and languages do not adapt to the world –they are part of human endeavours to create new worlds.

February 15, 2005