JOPOL 8(2022)

Decolonial Integrational Linguistics: A Critical Discussion
Sinfree Makoni & Adrian Pablé

This contribution aims to introduce Roy Harris’ approach to language and communication, known as integrational linguistics or integrationism, and critically discuss how its core tenets can inform decolonial linguistics and Southern epistemologies more generally. We argue that Harris’ critique of the Western ‘Language Myth’ and his project of demythologizing linguistics resonates with the stated aims in Southern scholarship to decolonize linguistics as an academic discipline. Both approaches under scrutiny consider themselves to be ‘lay-oriented’, though for different reasons. In this paper, we outline the key theoretical notions that characterize Harrisian lay-orientedness and how an integrational theory differs from any other theory that makes up the linguistic orthodoxy. We then discuss how a decolonial linguistics could make integrationism its own (what we refer to as ‘decolonial integrational linguistics’), and we also point to existing tensions between the two approaches at both theoretical and applied levels.

Keywords: integrational linguistics, decolonial linguistics, lay-orientation, the Language Myth, lay linguistics, Southern Theory