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Language and Identity- Selected Papers of Robert B. Le Page

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Language and Identity- Selected Papers of Robert B. Le Page
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Item Code: NAX381
Author: Rama Kant Agnihotri, Mahendra Kishore Verma and Vandana Puri
Language: English
Edition: 2020
Pages: 630
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
weight of the book: 0.91 kg
About The Book

This collection of the papers of Robert B. Le Page consists of four major sections-Theoretical Aspects, Pidgin and Creole Studies, General, and National Language and Identity. In the Theoretical Aspects section Le Page examines his ideas of what language is and the concept of competence in the context of Creole studies; it also contains Le Page's sociolinguistic studies in contact situations. The Pidgin and Creole Studies section consists of papers on the problems of linguistic continua, `De-creolisation and Re-creolisation in St. Lucia', outline of the Creole dialects in the British Caribbean, Caribbean connections in the classroom and discussions about the issue of standardisation of Creole languages. The penultimate section called 'General' consists of his work on 'Linguistic Myths and Snobberies', Vernacularisation of Literacy', language standardisation, stylistic application of linguistics, and on metaphors in the context of language and race. The final section is on the question of national language and discusses problems of newly independent states, national language issues in Malaysia and Singapore, and language and nationalism.

The book will be of interest to students and scholars of fluid multilingual situations, language planning, language and education in general and of Pidgin and Creole studies in particular.

About the Author

Robert B. Le Page was one of the pioneers to study the theoretical, structural and applied aspects of Sociolinguistics, particularly in pidgin and creole studies. His works have influenced scholars to re-examine notions about language in general and about Caribbean languages in particular. Some of his works are Acts of Identity (co-authored with A. Tabouret-Keller), Dictionary of Jamaican English, and The National Language Question: Linguistic Problems of the Newly Independent States. His interpretation of the roles that creoles play in our understanding of language, is revolutionary and should be compulsory reading for any student of language.

Rama Kant Agnihotri, DPhil (York, UK), retired as Professor and Head, Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi. He is interested in General Linguistics, Sociolinguistics and Applied Linguistics.

Mahendra Kishore Verma, emeritus at the Department of Language & Linguistic Science, University of York, UK. His primary interests include Sociolinguistics, mother tongue movement in Britain, ESOL and minority languages.

Vandana Puri, PhD (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) is a researcher in the field of bilingualism, intonation and Sociolinguistics and works in the field of e-learning, language automation and editing.


Born in 1920 in South London in a relatively less well-off family, the young Robert B. Le Page won one of the few open scholarships to Christ's Hospital, a prestigious school in Horsham in Sussex. At the age of sixteen he joined a firm of accountants. After some years, when the Second World War broke out he joined the Fleet Air Arm as a navigator at first and as an instructor later on. When the war was over he did his higher education at Oxford. He graduated in English Language and Literature from Keble College, University of Oxford in 1948. He then embarked on research and worked at his thesis on 'Studies in Early English Prosody' under the guidance of Professor Alan Ross at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 1952. While working on his PhD thesis he became a teaching assistant at the University of Birmingham and a tutor at Oxford. This was followed by a remarkable period of teaching and research in the West Indies, in the United States, in Malaysia and in York, UK.

A SOCIO(LINGUIST) WITH A BROAD VISION A Trip to Jamaica: The Start of the Creole Pilgrimage and the 'Birth of a Creolist'

Bob Le Page went off to Jamaica to take up the job of an Assistant Lecturer in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona in 1950. Although he 'did not know clearly where Jamaica was, it had romantic associations with rum, pirates and great 18th century English fortunes'(Le Page 2018: 44). On arrival there he soon realised the sociolinguistic research potential of the language(s) spoken there. In 1951 he started the linguistic survey of the British Caribbean. Instead of appreciating this English linguist's sincerity in recording and analysing the linguistic diversity in the region he 'was condemned in the local press for paying attention to what was "nothing more than broken English", "broken talk", or "bungo talk", "bad English" or "patois"' (Le Page 2018: 116). The elite perceived 'the broad vernacular as something to be stigmatised, stamped out, and, if possible, replaced by "correct" English, and so on.'One headline in a newspaper read 'Send him back to Guernsey where he came from', another article described him as 'a low type from the English slums' (Le Page 2018: 76). The general tenor of these articles and reports was that it was very patronising of an expatriate assistant lecturer in English to suggest that local 'ungrammatical speech' was worthy of attention when 'educated Jamaicans used English every bit as standard as his own.' He found that the educationists believed that their main task was to 'eradicate the local vernaculars' as it was 'associated with poverty and ignorance'. `...most people thought I was daft, if not downright wicked, to want to study "broken talk"' (Le Page 2008: 115). Bob did not share their ideas. Bob decided not to go back to Beowulf, counting syllables in Anglo-Saxon poetry. The subject bored him. He didn't want to be 'an ivory tower man'. Jamaica offered him a more interesting challenge. 'I was hooked.

Who would want to pore over ancient manuscripts in a library when they could sit under a tree with Emmanuel Rowe and a bottle of rum?' (Le Page 2018: 75). Emmanuel Rowe was an old storyteller in his 70s in the village and Bob recorded some of the Old Witch and Anansi stories. 'The vehemence with which I was denounced helped me to understand why it was so important for me to continue' (Le Page 2018: 76). His love and fascination for Jamaican vernacular brought him in touch with Fredrick Cassidy, who was a dialectologist researching in Jamaica at the time. They soon became collaborators and close friends, and embarked on the journey of collecting dialect words and the traditional stories of the Old Witch and Anansi among the Maroons of Accompong. They completed the Dictionary of Jamaican English, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 1967 and became a landmark in Creole research.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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