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From the Editor: Mixed Meanings of Globalization With Insights From Global Issues in Language Disorders: Frameworks, Processes, and Policies

Section Editor(s): Nelson, Nickola Wolf PhD; Editor

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000016
From the Editor

The author has indicated that she has no financial and no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

Globalization is deeply controversial. - (The Levin Institute, The State University of New York, 2014)1

Depending on one's perspective, globalization can be viewed as a nefarious force of imperialism in which countries with greater resources impose their language, culture, and economic systems on those with fewer resources—or it can be viewed as a benign if not benevolent force in which sociopolitically and culturally linguistically diverse systems establish new lines of communication and lower traditional barriers. The Levin Institute (2014), which was quoted at the beginning of this column, explained the controversy as follows:

Proponents of globalization argue that it allows poor countries and their citizens to develop economically and raise their standards of living, while opponents of globalization claim that the creation of an unfettered international free market has benefited multinational corporations in the Western world at the expense of local enterprises, local cultures, and common people.1

Regardless of one's perspective, few would argue that globalization is a growing force in areas beyond sociopolitical-economic ones. Similarly, few would argue that technological advances and new communication possibilities have facilitated the expansion of globalization. I believe that this issue of Topics in Language Disorders (TLD), coedited by Drs. Yvette Hyter and Dolores Battle, is an example of the positive side of globalization, bringing people and ideas about language disorders together across continents for the greater good of all.

When Kay Butler published the first issue of TLD in 1980, there was no Internet or e-mail system that made it easy to engage international authors, reviewers, and readers in the discussion of issues that would be relevant to people around the world; however, that did not stop Kay and her editorial board (Li-Rong Lilly Cheng, for example) from bringing international, as well as interdisciplinary, perspectives to the pages of this journal from its inception. Throughout her career, Kay has provided a role model for many of us through her networking, including through her involvement at many levels in the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics (IALP). The IALP has brought professionals interested in language and communication disorders together around the globe for many years. Following in that tradition, Issue Co-Editor Hyter is current chair of the IALP Committee on Child Language, and Issue Co-Editor Battle, among other international roles, is a former IALP President, as well as being former President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

In planning this enlightening 21st-century issue, Hyter and Battle drew on their connections in the IALP and elsewhere to invite strong contributors from five continents to bring deeper global understandings of language disorders to TLD readers. Hyter (2014) leads off the issue with an eyes-wide-open framework that emphasizes the need for a deep and critical analysis of the many historical and contextual factors that affect how disabilities are viewed and how language disorders are assessed and treated around the world. She notes the need to appreciate linguistic factors but urges speech–language pathologists to go beyond them in training programs, research laboratories, and clinics both to move toward more culturally competent practices and to critically reconsider unexamined assumptions and systems.

In editing these articles, I was struck by the degree to which communication disorders specialists around the world face some of the same challenges. These include challenges of respecting linguistic heritage and providing services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate while seeking to make services accessible to geographically and politically remote areas of the country. Such issues are discussed by Uziel-Karl et al. (2014) in their consideration of Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic, as well as speakers of Yiddish and Bedouin communities within Israel. This also is one of the themes in the article by Fernandes, Amato, Defense-Netrval, and Molini-Avejonas (2014), who describe efforts to improve interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders in Brazil, and also by Penn (2014), who describes outreach to people who have had strokes and are now living with aphasia in various regions of South Africa.

Another theme relates to relationships between spoken and written languages that can be traced to historical factors and cultural mixing in diverse parts of the world. This includes historical factors that have resulted in homography (i.e., the same written words having several possible meanings) in some languages that play a role in learning to read. Tanaka Welty, Menn, and Oishi (2014), for example, describe how this principle contributes to the challenge Japanese children experience when learning to read kanji symbols. Similarly, Uziel-Karl et al. describe challenges in learning Palestinian Arabic and Israeli Hebrew that are exacerbated by the fact that many written words can have several possible meanings. In addition, Uziel-Karl et al. describe how both Arabic and Hebrew exhibit diglossia in the sense that the written and spoken forms are so different as to be construed as distinct varieties of the same language, with the written variety being highly divergent and grammatically more complex.

Similarities and differences—both are important. This issue highlights some of both. Importantly, it also presents a framework for placing multiple factors into a complex model of cultural interaction. All of us should be enriched and have our global views enlarged by the conversations included within.

—Nickola Wolf Nelson, PhD


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Fernandes F. D. M., Amato C. A. H., Defense-Netrval D. A., Molini-Avejonas D. R. (2014). Speech–language intervention with children with autism spectrum disorders in Brazil. Topics in Language Disorders, 34, 155–167.
Hyter Y. D. (2014). A conceptual framework for responsive global engagement in communication sciences and disorders. Topics in Language Disorders, 34, 103–120.
Penn C. (2014). Asking new questions and seeking new answers: The reality of aphasia practice in South Africa. Topics in Language Disorders, 34, 168–181.
Tanaka Welty Y., Menn L., Oishi N. (2014). Developmental reading disorders in Japan—Prevalence, profiles, and possible mechanisms. Topics in Language Disorders, 34, 121–132.
Uziel-Karl S., Kanaan F., Yifat R., Meir I., Abugov N., Ravid D. (2014). Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic in Israel: Linguistic frameworks and SLP services. Topics in Language Disorders, 34, 133–154.

1 Retrieved February 17, 2014, from Cited Here...

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