Workshop: Phrasebooks as transcultural texts
- Richard Hallett
This workshop examines phrasebooks as ‘transcultural texts’, i.e. ‘writings which help to establish popular understandings of the meanings of other cultures’ (Gilbert 1999:283). In so doing, this workshop offers an overview of linguistic research in the area of tourism, a discussion of historical/sociolinguistic aspects of phrasebooks, a critical analysis of the construction of a modern phrasebook, linguistic analyses of the social (co-)construction of identity found in these transcultural texts, an analysis of alleged pedagogical purposes of phrasebooks, and an opportunity to collaborate on a linguistic analysis of a phrasebook.
In spite of Constantine’s (2013:155) claim that interest in analysing phrasebooks and their potential not only to reflect behavior but also to influence others is not new, scant linguistic research has been published on the cultural dimension of language descriptions in popular tourism phrasebooks. It is important to analyze the information presented in phrasebooks critically as phrasebooks ‘make manifest our imaginations of lives to be lived in other contexts’ (Phipps 2009:663). Most of the research that has been done on phrasebooks has been in the study of history and/or literature rather than in the study of linguistics. This workshop will demonstrate that phrasebooks, even parodic ones, exemplify, magnify, and promote cultural assumptions, perceptions, and stereotypes (Johnstone 2013, Barrett 2003, Montgomery and Mishoe 1999, Schneider 1986), through an exoticization of the Other. Building on the author’s previous research, this workshop extends Thurlow and Jaworski’s (2010:192) notion of the guidebook as ‘an iconic, genre-defining feature of tourism’ to include phrasebooks as a subset of guidebooks, as they serve much the same purpose.