Linguistic Imperialism


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Linguistic Imperialism

  1. 1. Linguistic Imperialism Impacts of global language dominance
  2. 2. Linguistic Imperialism: <ul><li>The transfer of a dominant language (and aspects of its culture) to speakers of other languages. </li></ul>Photo : Public domain Definition reference: Gerald Knowles, Encyclopædia Britannica .
  3. 3. Linguistic Imperialism: <ul><li>Assumes the active promotion of the language by the dominant class as an active expression of power of the powerful over the powerless. </li></ul><ul><li>(Robert Phillipson, 1992) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Notions of imperialism understate agency, rendering participants cultural dupes or passive puppets of an ideological order, or cogs in a mechanistic universe.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Talbot, Atkinson, & Atkinson, 2003:273) </li></ul>References: Robert Phillipson, Linguistic Imperialism (1992); Henry Widdowson (1998a), p. 398. EIL: squaring the Circles. A Reply. World Englishes 17/3 397-401. Talbot, Atkinson, & Atkinson, 2003:273
  4. 4. Different views of the source of Linguistic Imperialism “ It may take a militarily powerful nation to establish a language, but it takes an economically powerful one to maintain it and expand it” David Crystal (1997:1) “ Linguistic Imperialism is a sub-type of Cultural Imperialism. Linguistic Imperialism permeates all the other types of imperialism, since language is the means used to mediate and express them” Robert Phillipson (1992, 65)
  5. 5. Lady, you need to get your English right You can’t even speak English properly! How good is your English? A good command of the English language is required for this role We speak English here Do you speak English? Speak English! I have a problem with your accent You get points for good English <ul><li>English is the language of international air control </li></ul><ul><li>¾ of academic journals are first published in English </li></ul><ul><li>85 % of global international organisations use English as an official language </li></ul><ul><li>1/3 of newspapers are published in countries where English has special status </li></ul>Statistics: David Crystal (2003) English as a Global Language.
  6. 6. Historical examples of active Linguistic Imperialism exercised by Conquerors/Oppressors FRENCH over ENGLISH following the French invasion of England in 1066 JAPANESE over KOREAN following the annexation of Korea by Japan in the early 20 th Century RUSSIAN over UKRANIAN following Soviet oppression of the Ukraine in the early 20 th century
  7. 7. Book cover copyright Xinran, 2006 2006 published series of essays originally published in The Guardian (UK) newspaper and related to modern day issues facing Chinese people throughout the world. 2010 published non fiction book describing realities of everyday life for North Korean citizens and defectors from North to South Korea.
  8. 8. I found a very cheap place in north London. It had three bedrooms and one living room, and was occupied by 15 Chinese men who all worked in restaurants. They shared a tiny kitchen and a bathroom, but kept a storeroom aside to let to a translator who could help them deal with local government. I tried to explain that I was not well qualified enough to take their very cheap room because my English was poor, I had no knowledge of the law and of how things worked in this country. I could not understand their papers from the Home Office. But I saw how scared, insecure and lost they were, the massive worry in their begging eyes and thirsty words. I felt so sorry I couldn’t help them. Xinran (2006) pg 64. The full content of many official documents like legal documents are produced only in English or primarily in English Negative mental health impacts on non speakers of language of power Local government communicates using the globally dominant language. This results in loss of independence for non- speakers and language learners
  9. 9. Book cover copyright Barbara Demick 2010 “ After years of fighting the South Korea Medical Board she bit the bullet and at age forty began a four-year medical program. Her studies, she told me, were difficult, not because her training in North Korea had left her ill prepared but because the South Korean medical school used English terminology that was completely unfamiliar to her. The only foreign language she had studied was Russian.” Barbara Demick (2010) pp. 259-260 When a globally dominant language is imposed even within cultures it does not originate from, it can be a battle for native speakers to fight for the right to use their native language If a language has not been actively promoted and/or is not used globally by speakers of power, that language is likely to be less available for practical use in global language situations Professionals who migrate to a new country or language community can be profoundly disadvantaged by aspects of Linguistic Imperialism found in the ‘ re-qualification’ requirements of the adopted country.
  10. 10. Conclusion <ul><li>Ongoing Questions about the English language and Linguistic Imperialism: </li></ul><ul><li>Active or Accidental? </li></ul><ul><li>Morally wrong or morally irrelevant? </li></ul><ul><li>Survival of the fittest or deliberate dominance? </li></ul><ul><li>Can any negative impacts be mitigated? </li></ul>
  11. 11. REFERENCES Crystal, D. (1997). English as a Global Language . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Crystal, D. (2003). English as a Global Language . Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University. Demick, B (2010). Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea . New York: Spiegel & Grau English Language Imperialism: Year In Review 1997 . (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved October 05, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Phillipson, R.H.L. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Talbot, M., Atkinson, K., & Atkinson, D. (2003). Language and power in the modern world. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Widdowson, H.G. (1998a ) EIL: squaring the Circles. A Reply. World Englishes pp.397-401. Xinran (2006) What the Chinese Don’t Eat. Great Britain: Vintage.