Bernstein and Poetics Revisited by Jan Bloomaert

By Jan Bloomaert

Within the box of language experiences, a frequently disregarded sector is that of people’s perceptions of language: what counts as language for audio system, and what doesn’t. This lecture engages in a couple of reflections on how recognition to that box of perceptions adjustments our view of language studying and language services.

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And Dyers, C. (2005) ‘Peripheral normativity: literacy and the production of locality in a South African township school’. Linguistics and Education, 16, 378–403. , Bock, M. and McCormick, K. (2006a) ‘Narrative inequality in the TRC hearings: on the hearability of hidden transcripts’. Journal of Language and Politics, 5/1, 37–70. , Creve, L. and Willaert, E. (2006b) ‘On being declared illiterate: languageideological disqualification in Dutch classes for immigrants in Belgium’. Language and Communication, 26, 34–54.

I want to be a teacher so that I can teach the children like my teacher teach me. ⇐ And I want to teach them what my teacher teach me ⇐ And I would like to teach children that will listen to me every day. The poetic structure of both texts is very different. Text (1) is structured around one gradually developed motif: ‘be a teacher’ – ‘never be a bad teacher’ – ‘be a good teacher’. The development of this motif proceeds through a series of qualifications of ‘being a (good) teacher’: to hit the bad pupils and to ensure that the class is neat.

He picks up, perhaps also reproduces in speaking, the local accent of Dutch. He does that very well, and in that sense his writing skills are excellently developed. But his performance as a language learner will be judged on the basis not of the sociolinguistic reality in which he finds his place, but on the basis of a normative standard that only exists, for him, as a set of formal writing conventions (which can be seen from his alteration of /fits/ and /fiets/). Simply put: while his writing of ‘zeivanentvintihi’ is absolutely accurate as a replica of sociolinguistic reality, it is just an error when seen from the normative standard viewpoint.

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