Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature

Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature

Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature

Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature


In this challenging and at times controversial book Ronald Carter addresses the discourse of 'English' as a subject of teaching and learning.Among the key topics investigated are:* grammar* correctness and standard English* critical language awareness and literacy* language and creativity* the methodological integration of language and literature in the curriculum* discourse theory and textual interpretation. Investigating English Discourse is a collection of revised, re-edited and newly written papers which contain extensive contrastive analyses of different styles of international English. These range from casual conversation to advertisement, poetry, jokes, metaphor, stories by canonical writers, public notices and children's writing. Ronald Carter highlights key issues for the study and teaching of 'English' for the year 2000 and beyond, focusing in particular on its political and ideological inflections. Investigating English Discourse is of relevance to teachers and students and researchers in the fields of discourse analysis, English as a first, second and foreign language, language and education, and applied and literary linguistics.


The chapters in this part of the book explore issues of language, literacy and language education, pursuing in particular a view of language as discourse and arguing that language development should be fostered by engagement with a variety of different texts functioning in a variety of different sociocultural contexts. It is argued that popular views of language as consisting of right or wrong forms, with the sentence as the main basis for exemplification, restrict opportunities both for using language productively and for understanding how language is used.

Understanding how language works and how it is used has not been a main focus in the teaching of English in the past three or four decades but recent curricular developments in many parts of the world have brought about a renewal of attention to teaching and learning about language, and a recurring theme in these chapters is an emphasis on its importance both for literacy development and for producing roundly educated language users. A related argument is that such knowledge about language should embrace both detailed understanding of the differences and distinctions between spoken and written discourse and a critical awareness of the social and cultural functions of language. Throughout Part I contrasting public and professional discourses concerning key concepts such as standard English, grammar and correctness are critically investigated and their connection with different views of teaching and learning examined. Recognition of and respect for clines and continua across such discourses and in the language forms which realise them is argued to be paramount.

‘English’ as an academic subject is unique in the contrasting discourses of definition which surround it and in its use of the English language as a main instrument of investigation. One main argument which links several of these chapters is that encouragement by teachers and curriculum designers to greater critical awareness of the inextricable links between language and ideology can do much to develop literacy at all levels and to help position English language studies more centrally within the construction and constitution of English as a subject.

Chapter 1 considers the place of the study of the modern English language in the curriculum.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.