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LMRN Conference, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 27-29 October 2010 English as pandemic? Robert Phillipson Handelshøjskolen i København Copenhagen Business.

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Presentation on theme: "LMRN Conference, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 27-29 October 2010 English as pandemic? Robert Phillipson Handelshøjskolen i København Copenhagen Business."— Presentation transcript:

1 LMRN Conference, Erasmus University Rotterdam, October 2010 English as pandemic? Robert Phillipson Handelshøjskolen i København Copenhagen Business School

2 Jawarhalal Nehru, 1956 I am convinced that real progress in India can only be made through our own languages and not through a foreign language. I am anxious to prevent a new caste system being perpetuated in India - an English-knowing caste separated from the mass of our public. (...) I cannot conceive of English being the principal medium of education in India in the future. That medium has to be Hindi or some other regional language. Only then can we remain in touch with our masses and help in uniform growth.

3 Vandana Shiva 2000 The more ecological space we leave for other species, the more economic space we leave for the marginalized sectors of society – peasants, women and children – and for future generations to meet their needs. Biodiversity is therefore not just an indicator of sustainability, it is also an indicator of justice.

4 Linguistic justice, local and global? Biodiversity, cultural and linguistic diversity are inter-connected, and each should be maintained. Linguistic hegemonies tend to be naturalized as acceptable and inevitable, but need to be resisted and counteracted, just like other forms of social injustice. English: panacea or pandemic?

5 Robert Phillipson (Denmark) conference identity: state / location /residence / … my linguistic and national origins (UK) my immigrant minority status including religious minority status my multilingualism my professional identity as an internationally oriented scholar my EU-certified European identity

6 Identity variables Anglo-American linguistic exceptionalism All such identity variables influence the individual’s socio-economic position, status, and lifestyle.Linguistic capital can be convertible into economic and social capital. The variables interlock with minoritization and hierarchization processes that structure society by means of class, gender, ethnicity (earlier ‘race’), caste, religion, and language. This is true in countries of both North and South.

7 English a special case in the modern world? Is it an expansion of the repertoire of the individual or the group? In most postcolonial countries in Asia and Africa, education through the medium of English serves the purpose of elite formation, benefits the few and excludes the majority. While English opens doors for some, it closes them for others.

8 predominance of English is in no way accidental UK monolingualism exported to N America, Australasia the British empire, the gospel of Mammon accompanying Christianity the ideology of the USA as a global empire comprehensive USA military, economic, cultural and ideological expansion, 20 th century neoliberalism, neoconservative-driven financial, economic, military and environmental fiascos. Fragility, unsustainability, multiple world disorders.

9 How English functions in any given context can be investigated empirically, the forces behind English identified. typical dilemma for a former colony such as Nigeria or Pakistan is between English as a useful bond with the international community, and necessary for national unity internally, or whether English is a bridgehead for Western interests that are serviced by a complicit elite. Nehru’s unwanted caste exists in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many African countries. Emergence of a comparable caste in some European Union institutional contexts (Phillipson 2003), in European academia and business, and in right-wing political parties.

10 Linguistic imperialism structural: resources, infrastructure, … ideological: beliefs, attitudes, imagery interlocks with culture, education, media inequality, hierarchy, exploitation speakers of some languages have more rights than others consolidates some languages at the expense of others, i.e. subtractive RP Linguistic imperialism. Oxford UP. RP Linguistic imperialism continued. Routledge

11 From linguistic imperialism to linguistic neoimperialism neo-colonialism in South countries cultural cold war activities economic, financial and educational McDonaldization a neoimperial world order largely constituted through English builds on English linguistic capital accumulation and the dispossession of other types of linguistic capital contested and resisted.

12 Regional and global integration European Union: 23 official and working languages; a de facto hierarchy in many functions African Union: essentially 4 ex-colonial languages Association of SouthEast Asian Nations: English only Proficient users of English: from linguistic to structural power Frantic efforts from Chile to China, from Catalonia to Korea, to improve English learning, stimulated by the World Bank, corporate and military globalisation, and the British English teaching business.

13 Examples of ongoing processes of linguistic imperialism Elite formation Marketing policies in post-communist world English as a universal ‘basic skill’ English-medium higher education Universities in ‘English-speaking’ countries establish subsidiaries in Asia, Middle East, and dependent on ‘foreign’ students EU advocacy of increased multilingualism is contradicted by many of their own practices and by the Bologna process

14 More examples of ongoing processes of linguistic imperialism Academic productivity increasingly measured by bibliometric quantification that is supplanting quality, and restricting academic freedom. The dominance of publishing in English is restricting publishing in other languages. Foreign languages other than English: French, German, the Slavic languages are being eliminated. UK-USA language policy scholars argue that the expansion of English serves all equally well. From terra nullius to a lingua nullius!

15 These examples indicate inequality between users of different languages asymmetrical communication unequal investment in linguistic capital largely unquestioned ideologies, processes and structures that serve to sustain and consolidate linguistic imperialism Inevitably in brief coverage that cannot do justice to push and pull factors, local appropriation (’glocalisation’), and the fact that any language can serve good or evil purposes.

16 Resistance If we are to avoid the emergence of global linguistic apartheid, active language policy measures to sustain diversity and increase social justice are needed. Studies in the Nordic countries of whether English represents a threat to Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, etc. - legislation in Sweden - Language policy statements

17 Other languages plus English I have nothing against anyone becoming maximally competent in English. This is logical given the global linguistic mosaic. The question is how this should be achieved, and in what sort of a balance with competence in other languages. This issue needs to be addressed at all levels of national education, in companies, in the media, in international organizations, and in the home. All of us who function multilingually in our domestic and professional lives know that it can be achieved when certain conditions are met.

18 The national and inter-governmental levels Nordic Declaration of Language Policy, 2006 –ensure that Nordic languages remain fully viable, –and function in parallel with English for certain purposes, –that competence in other languages is promoted, –that policies are evolved for achieving these goals, –and that public awareness of language policy issues is raised. Danish, English, Faeroese, Finnish, Greenlandic, Icelandic, Norwegian, Saami, and Swedish and aims at strengthening all these languages.

19 Explicit university language policies University of Helsinki has a language policy published in Finnish, Swedish and English that stresses the acquisition of a range of types of multilingual competence and provides an articulate rationale for doing so. Many Scandinavian universities are ’bilingual’. One multi- or bilingual university in Canada, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. A ’European doctorate’ requires a bilingual PhD cycle.

20 EU inconsistent in supporting linguistic diversity operates in its institutions with 23 languages, produces legal documents in parallel in these, and provides interpretation between all the languages at some of its gatherings, and less comprehensive interpretation ad hoc, accepts market forces behind English, language policy too hot to handle. Greater European integration is leading to many EU citizens becoming multilingually competent, thanks to the education system, and to the use of several languages elsewhere.

21 Panacea or pandemic? English is not a panacea anywhere. The central tension in language policy in many parts of the world is between the maintenance of linguistic diversity and the pressures behind the dominance of English. English represents a pandemic in many contexts, but can be resisted. Language rights and language duties are important for greater social justice: –- minority rights within a state, - national languages that risk marginalization in regional fora as well as in the home market unless measures to counter- balance the use of English are undertaken.

22 Vandana Shiva Continuous globalizing efforts may threaten democracy, the vibrancy and diversity of life forms, and ecological well-being in general. However, the human spirit, inspired by justice and environmental protection, can never be fully repressed. Despite the brutal violence of globalization, we have hope because we build alternatives in partnership with nature and people.

23 Written paper available Thank you Vielen Dank für die Aufmerksamkeit Merci pour votre attention Mange tak Tak så mykke Questions


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