Global and worldly Englishes Discommunities and subcultural empires

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ishes based around newly emergent national linguistic identities.

In the rest of this paper, I shall take up these issues from various perspectives in order to open up an understanding of current scholarship on the community of English speakers. I shall argue that we cannot come to an understanding of English without a complex appreciation of globalization as both a global and local process, as both an impositional and an oppositional set of relations that produces something new (neither the same nor merely pluralized) in the doing. First, I shall look at current debates over the global spread of English, looking particularly at the arguments over homogeny and heterogeny in the world. One of the central arguments here will be that ones understanding of English as part of a cultural empire or a language community depend very much on the model of globalization that one employs. Second, I shall look briefly at colonial language policy in order to make several points: colonialism created more complex empires than simple language communities. By this I mean that spreading the colonial language was only one tool and goal of colonialism. The use of vernacular languages as both a policy of pragmatic vernacularism and part of an orientalist preservationism was at least as significant as the use of English. The spread of English has been driven by postwar changes, the rise of the US, changing economic and political conditions and so forth. One of the other effects of continuing colonial relations is the construction and maintenance of languages, what Makoni and I (Makoni and Pennycook, in press), following Foucault, have called the language effects of missionary and colonial activity. Finally I will consider various new directions for thinking about language in the world.


Beyond homogeny and heterogeny


So how do we start to make sense of these interrelationships between English and the local and global? Writers from different ends of the political spectrum are often united in their agreement that English and globalisation go hand in hand. Where they differ is in terms of the effects of such globalisation. Thus, reviewing David Crystals (1997) book on the global spread of English, Sir John Hanson, the former Director-General of the British Council is able to proclaim: “On it still strides: we can argue about what globalisation is till the cows come - but that globalisation exists is beyond question, with English its accompanist. The accompanist is indispensable to the performance" (Hanson, 1997, p.22). Phillipson (1999), by contrast, in his review of the same book, opts for a critical rather than a triumphalist evaluation: “Crystals celebration of the growth of English fits squarely into what the Japanese scholar, Yukio Tsuda, terms the Diffusion of English Paradigm, an uncritical endorsement of capitalism, its science and technology, a modernisation ideology, monolingualism as a norm, ideological globalisation and internationalization, transnationalization, the Americanization and homogenisation of world culture, linguistic, culture and media imperialism (Tsuda, 1994) ” (p.274).

One view of English and globalization, then, views English as part of a process of global homogenization. Whether or not we wish to adhere to this particular version of imperialism, there are important concerns here about the relations between English and other cultural, political and economic relations. As Tollefson (2000) explains, “at a time when English is widely seen as a key to the economic success of nations and the economic well-being of individuals, the spread of English also contributes to significant social, political, and economic inequalities. ” (p.8). On the one hand, then, some see English as fulfilling “the perceived need for one language of international communication. Through English, people worldwide gain access to science, technology, education, employment, and mass culture, while the chance of political conflict is also reduced. ” Yet on the other hand, amongst other things, “the spread of English presents a formidable obstacle to education, employment, and other activities requiring English proficiency" (p.9). Phillipsons (1992) book, Linguistic Imperialism, remains the clearest articulation of this position. As Tollefson (2000, p.13) explains “Phillipsons analysis places English squarely in the center of the fundamental sociopolitical processes of imperialism, neo-colonialism, and global economic restructuring. In this view, the spread of English can never be neutral but is always implicated in global inequality. Thus Phillipson, in contrast to Kachru, argues that the spread of English is a positive development for some people (primarily in core countries) and harmful to others (primarily in the periphery). The spread of English, in this view, is a result of policies adopted by core countries to bring about the worldwide hegemony of English, for the benefit of core country institutions and individuals".

What Phillipson (1992) is arguing, then, is that English is interlinked with the continuing neocolonial patterns of global inequality. He explains:

We live in a world characterised by inequality - of gender, nationality, race, class, income, and language. To trace and understand the linkages between English linguistic imperialism and inequality in the political and economic spheres will require us to look at the rhetoric and legitimation of ELT (for instance, at protestations that it is a neutral, non-political activity) and relate what ELT claims to be doing to its structural functions. (1992, pp46-7)

According to Phillipson, therefore, English plays an important role in the structure of global inequality. The notion of imperialism in linguistic imperialism thus refers not only to the imperialism of English (the ways in which English has spread around the world) but also to imperialism more generally (the ways in which some parts of the world are dominated politically, economically, and culturally, by other parts of the world). It is not a coincidence, therefore, that English is the language of the great imperial power of the 19th century (Great Britain) and also of the great imperial (or neocolonial) power of the 20th century (and probably the 21st) (USA).

Phillipson convincingly shows how, for example, “A vast amount of the aid effort has…gone into teacher education and curriculum development in and through English, and other languages have been neglected. A Western-inspired monolingual approach was adopted that ognored the multilingual reality and cultural specificity of learners in diverse Third World contexts” (1994, p. 19). As he goes on to argue, “In the current global economy, English is dominant in many domains, which creates a huge instrumental demand for English. There has therefore already been a penetration of the language into most cultures and education systems" (1994, pp. 20-21). But the challenge here is to show not only that the global spread of English can be seen as a form of imperialism which is particularly threatening to other languages and cultures, nor only that this spread of English correlates with other forms of political and economic domination and thus reflects global inequality, but rather that there is also a causative relationship between the promotion of English and forms of global inequality, that English helps produce and maintain inequitable global power relationships. While it is indeed crucial to understand the political context of the spread of English, we need to be cautious of assuming that the effects of the spread of English are easily understood, that language is simply spread rather than learned, adopted, adapted and appropriated.

While this homogeny position views English as a reflex of global capitalism and commercialization, the alternative heterogeny position, as epitomised by the notion of world Englishes, views the global spread of English in terms of increasing differentiation. The interest from this perspective is on the implications of pluricentricity…, the new and emerging norms of performance, and the bilinguals creativity as a manifestation of the contextual and formal hybridity of Englishes (Kachru, 1997: 66). And yet, while Kachrus world Englishes framework opens up questions of hybridity and appropriation, at the same time it all too often loses sight of the broader political context. As Canagarajah (1999a, p180) points out, Kachru “does not go far enough, since he is not fully alert to the ideological implications of periphery Englishes. In his attempt to systematize the periphery variants, he has to standardize the language himself, leaving out many eccentric, hybrid forms of local Englishes as too unsystematic. In this, the Kachruvian paradigm follows the logic of the prescriptive and elitist tendencies of the center linguists."

Amongst a number of problems here (Pennycook 2002) are the political naivety, descriptive (in) adequacy of the three circles, the focus on varieties of English along national lines, and the exclusionary divisions that discount other Englishes. Of immediate concern, then, is the rather strange insistence within this paradigm on the social, cultural, and political neutralty of English (see for example, Kachru 1985, 1986). As Parakrama (1995, p.22) points out, these repeated claims, are strangely repetitive, bizarre and inaccurate, hiding as they do a range of social and political relations: “These pleas for the neutrality of English in the post-colonial contexts are as ubiquitous and as insistent as they are unsubstantiated and unexplained. ” Dua (1994, p 7) also takes exception to these claims, arguing that the notion of neutrality can be questioned on both theoretical as well as empirical grounds, English being both ideologically