Monday, 16 April 2018

The great linguist, M.A.K. Halliday has died.

The great linguist, M.A.K. Halliday has died. His work used to be central to the way secondary English teachers treated language as 'language in use', with an emphasis on how language is part of social existence. Some of it got mis-used (I would argue) by the National Literacy Strategy as 'genre' work, though I'm not against a light-handed use of genre as a way of doing writing in schools. He taught my father linguistics, (as I wrote about jokily in 'So They Call You Pisher!' ) and - to put it crudely - fled the UK, once he realised that the government weren't interested in rational discussion of linguistics as a way of talking about language in schools.

I hope there will be long and thoughtful obituaries to him. We still have much to learn from his work.

Infected with superiority

People who've led lives growing up in suburbs, in comfortable homes, going to schools with glorious playing fields, playing in orchestras, playing in teams, find themselves in power in the parliament of the UK, equipped as it is with rockets and bombs, with a history of strutting across huge areas of the earth's surface, ruling over millions, still talking of 'spheres of influence' and 'our strategic interests', acting as if it is a right and a duty to decide what is or is not a humanitarian crisis, what is or is not the humanitarian crisis that it has to 'respond to', what is or is not the legitimate target to fire rockets and bombs at...and journalists and politicians lower down the food chain, sit and debate the finer points of this as if, yes, the UK does have some special historical valid role to act as one of the world's police, not seeing how deeply corrupting this is, of the country, of them, of us, how infected they are with this sense of superiority over billions of other people...when I watch them on TV talking it's as if this superiority is in their voices, in their eyes, seeped into their skin, like it's so deep in them that we can't actually see it, so we listen to them and watch them as if it's something right and proper and decent when in truth we now it's part of a brutal system of maintaining power and control over regions of the globe and over millions of people, and nothing whatsoever to do with - as they claim - poor, suffering people. Poor, suffering people - millions of whom they make poor and make suffer elsewhere....