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Wars of WordsThe Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004$
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Tony Crowley

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273430.001.0001

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Introduction: Language Acquisition

Introduction: Language Acquisition

(p.1) CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Language Acquisition
Wars of Words

Tony Crowley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the broad outlines of the book by giving specific historical examples of the type of debates under consideration. Working within the broad limits of the field of the politics of language, it introduces central themes which recur: identity, authority, legitimacy, cultural struggle, and political debate. The contradictions of the story are encapsulated in the words of Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. At one point, Stephen says that English, ‘so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech’. Later, he denounces an Englishman with whom he has had an argument over the meaning of a word, by asking: ‘what did he come here for to teach us his own language or to learn it from us’. Such complexities are explored in this and later chapters.

Keywords:   identity, authority, legitimacy, cultural struggle, political debate, James Joyce

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