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Borrowing Others Words:Text, Ownership,

Memory, and Plagiarism

Alastair Pennycook

Tth Sra
Danyis Nikolet
1. Background to the notion of authorship and
a) Premodern understanding
b) Modern understanding
c) Postmodern understanding
2. Development of textual ownership
3. Relationship between different approaches to texts
4. Discussion of some general implication for
understanding text, ownership and learning
1. Background
An example raised questions about:
a. ownership, practices of memory and writing
b. Textual borrowing (acceptable or unacceptable)
c. Boundaries drawn
d. Different relationships to text and memorization in
different cultural context
Cultural and historical specificity of notions of
ownership and authorship international norms
Plagiarism: in terms of particular cultural and
educational context
Premoden = mimetic era
Biblical, classical, medieval era
Image as a representation of reality, as a means
through which nature and God could be worshiped
Monotheistic religions are still tied to a position that it
is divine, not human, inspiration that produced their
Modern = productive era
Great shift of thinking in Europe = Enlightenment
Imagination viewed as a productive force
Earlier onto-theological view of meaning the
humanist subject is the center of creativity
Great store on the authority and authenticity
Modern = productive era
Development of print created a new sense of private
ownership of words
History of literary plagiarism started to emerge
Textual borrowing has always been common (Romans)
Studies of literary plagiarism (Mallon, Shaw)
Spurious quotations and misquotations
1) Nothing to say?
2) Hard to pin down the real originator of a quotation
Postmodern = parodic era

Imagination and creativity become nothing but a play

of images themself not e reference of reality nor are
the products of human subject
How we are authored by texts?
death of the author The birth of a reader must be
at the cost of the death of the Author
Writing can no longer be seen as an act of
2. Development of notions

Creative imagination is a passing illusion of Western

humanist culture. Kearney, 1988
Western cultural and historical tradition stresses
creative and possessive individualism
- but Western cult of originality has existed alongside
whole scale borrowing degree of hypocrisy
Changing textual practices
Communication and writing practices are rapidly changing
e-mail, word processing, collaborative writing, electronic words
Death of the author
Deconstructive approaches to texts
Changes is communication in societies dominated by electronic
Referencing is about establishing:
Ownership of the language
The authorial self of the writer
Multiple layering
Textual cultures in conflict
Definition of plagarism is culturally and
historically influenced
The Western concept of ownership of text is not
universally accepted
Ones culture is a key factor
Todayss definition of plagiarism was shaped by
Western assumptions about:
Textual productions
Learning practices
Asian countries and plagiarism
Education in China
Rote learning
The role of memorization
Heavily criticized by Western countries
In truth Chinese education is no education at all.
Instead of expanding the intelligence, it contracts it,
instead of broadening sympathies, it narrows them.
Copying is considered a socially acceptable
represents the quality of the original text
The everyday context of borrowing
Pennycooks interviews with Chinese students about
Plagiarizing ideas vs. plagiarizing language
less effective and powerful
Using the language of the text is the best means to achieve
clarity and the desired effect
I think the language of the passage is quite good, so I dont
take time to change the words
Chinese students are not prepared in secondary school
for such issues
English language introduces them to what it means to
ESL students
Language learning is a form of memorization and
borrowing of words
Second language learners attitude towards
To cope with the workload
Not even aware of the offence in cases
Students vs. teachers
Plagiarism is complex
Not easily defined
The concept of plagiarism should be
understood in its historical and cultural
context, and with respect to cultural
All language learning is to some extent a
process of borrowing others words
Thank you for your atention!