LuMing Mao offers an important discussion of the rhetoric of
Chinese American speakers, which has wide implications for the
teaching of writing in English and for our understanding of
cross-cultural influences in discourse.
Recent scholarship tends to explain such influences as
contributing to language hybridity---an advance over the
traditional "deficit model." But Mao suggests that the "hybridity"
approach is perhaps too arid or sanitized, missing rich nuances of
mutual exchange, resistance, or even subversion. Working from Ang's
concept of "togetherness in difference," Mao suggests that speakers
of hybrid discourse may not be attempting the standard (and
failing), but instead may be deliberately importing cultural
material to create a distance between themselves and the standard.
This practice, over time, becomes a process that transforms
English, enriching and enlarging it through the infusion of
non-Western discourse features, subverting power structures, and
even providing unique humorous touches.
Of interest to scholars in composition, cultural studies, and
linguistics as well, Reading Chinese Fortune Cookie leads
in an important new direction for both our understanding and our
teaching of English.
Subjects: Education, Language & Literature
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