Global and worldly Englishes Discommunities and subcultural empires

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encumbered and promoted to strengthen its hegemonic control over the indigenous varieties. In his debate with Rajagopalan (1999) over the merits of linguistic imperialism and linguistic hybridity arguments, Canagarajah (1999b: p 210) argues that while linguistic imperialism may be problematic, a World Englishes perspective that promotes the neutrality of English leads to an unhelpful business as usual line: “We are urged to bury our eyes ostrich-like to the political evils and ideological temptations outside."

Probably the best known and most often cited dimension of the WE paradigm is the model of concentric circles: the norm-providing inner circle, where English is spoken as a native language (ENL), the norm-developing outer circle, where it is a second language (ESL), and the norm-dependent expanding circle, where it is a foreign language (EFL). Although only “tentatively labelled” (Kachru 1985: 12) in earlier versions, it has been claimed more recently that “the circles model is valid in the senses of earlier historical and political contexts, the dynamic diachronic advance of English around the world, and the functions and standards to which its users relate English in its many current global incarnations” (Kachru and Nelson 1996, p 78). Yano (2001, p 121) refers to this model as the “standard framework of world Englishes studies. ” Yet this model suffers from several flaws: the location of nationally defined identities within the circles, the inability to deal with numerous contexts, and the privileging of ENL over ESL over EFL.

First, and most disconcertingly, it constructs speaker identity along national lines within these circles. As Krishnaswamy and Burde (1998, p.30) argue, if Randolph Quirk represented “the imperialistic attitude” to English, the WE paradigm represents “a nationalistic point of view," whereby nations and their varieties of English are conjured into existence: “Like Indian nationalism, Indian English is fundamentally insecure since the notion nation-India is insecure” (p.63). If on the one hand this suggests that speakers within a country belong in a particular circle and speak a particular national variety (or dont, if their country happens to be in the rather large expanding circle), it also, as Holborow (1999, pp 59-60) points out, “fails to take adequate account of social factors and social differences within the circles. ” Thus language users are assigned to a particular variety of English according on the one hand to their nationality and on the other the location of that nation within a particular circle. Australians speak English as a native language, Malaysians speak it as a second language, and Japanese use it as a foreign language. The problem is that it depends very much who you are: A well-educated Chinese Malaysian in KL may speak English as a second or first language, while a rural Malay may know English only as a distant foreign language. Parallel relations can be found in Australia and Japan, and indeed wherever we care to look around the world.

Second, despite claims to the contrary, it continues to privilege native speakers over nonnative speakers, and then ESL speakers (nationally defined) over EFL speakers (nationally defined) (see Graddol 1997). Although the WE paradigm has significantly questioned the status of native speakers in deciding what counts as English and what does not, it has not gone far enough in questioning the divide itself. It continues to maintain that the core Englishes are spoken by native speakers while the peripheral Englishes are spoken by nonnative speakers. This, as U. N. Singh (1998, p 16) points out, is one of the more “fantastic claims of this line of thinking. More recently, there has been a softening on this position, so that it is now conceded that we may talk of “genetic nativeness” in the inner circle and “functional nativeness” in the outer circle (see Yano 2001). But none of this calls into question either the circular argument that locates nativeness according to these circles, or the very divide itself. And a division between genetic and functional nativeness is surely based on an insidious division, a point that Salikoko Mufwene takes up in his discussion of the distinction between native and indigenized varieties.

Mufwene, (1994, 1998) laments that this distinction discounts pidgins and creoles: “I still find the opposition native vs indigenized English objectionable for several reasons,” particularly because “the distinction excludes English creoles, most of which are spoken as native languages and vernaculars" (1994: 24). Furthermore, “the label non-native seems inadequate and in fact reflects some social biases, especially when it turns out that there are some ethical/racial correlates to the distinction native versus non-native English as applied in the literature on indegenized Englishes" (1998: 119). Thus, while usefully challenging the central privilege of the NS to define the norms and standards of English, it has generally failed to question the NS/NNS dichotomy in any profound fashion, and indeed has supported an insidious divide between native and indigenized English. The WE paradigm also excludes numerous contexts where language use is seen as too complex (Jamaica and South Africa are two examples given from the outset; many others are similarly excluded). The crucial point here, then, is that inspite of talk of clines and varieties, the indigenized new Englishes remain the codified class dialects of a small elite, while a vast range of other Englishes spoken across much broader sections of the population, including creoles and many other forms of language use, are excluded. But to include such varieties of English would start to destabilize the central myth that there is an overarching thing called English.

While this position within the WE paradigm means on the one hand that the global spread of English is taken more or less as a given - an historical effect of colonialism - it also means, on the other, that struggles around what counts as a variety of English are overlooked. As Parakrama (1995, pp 25-6) argues, The smoothing out of struggle within and without language is replicated in the homogenizing of the varieties of English on the basis of upper-class forms. Kachru is thus able to theorize on the nature of a monolithic Indian English… According to Parakrama (1995) and Canagarajah (1999a), this focus in World Englishes on codified varieties - so-called Indian English, Singaporean English, and so on - spoken by a small elite pushes aside questions of class, gender, ethnicity and popular culture. While claiming ground as an inclusionary paradigm, it remains insistently exclusionary, discounting creoles, so-called basilectal uses of languages, and, to a large extent, all those language forms used in the expanding circle, since as uncodified varieties, non-standard forms still hold the status of errors.

Crucially, then, for the argument I wish to make here, as a sociolinguistic theory the WE paradigm is far too exclusionary to be able to account for many uses of English around the world. Its central “methodological strategy” of comparing local forms with “metropolitan English,” and thus always making peripheral difference dependent on variation from the Englishes of the centre circle (Dasgupta, 1993, p 135), makes it blind to other possibilities. It “cannot do justice to those Other Englishes as long as they remain within the over-arching structures that these Englishes bring to crisis. To take these new/other Englishes seriously would require a fundamental revaluation of linguistic paradigms, and not merely a slight accommodation or adjustment” (Parakrama 1995, p 17). If Dasguptas (1993, p 137) lament that “…seldom have so many talented men and women worked so long and so hard and achieved so little” is perhaps rather overstated, Krishnaswamy and Burdes (1998, p 64) call for “a reinvestigation of several concepts currently used by scholars” needs serious consideration. At the very least, we need to break away from the constrictive circles with their many exclusions and to start to think more seriously about globalization, popular culture and other Englishes.

Rather than the model of language implied by a simple globalization thesis - the homogeny or cultural empire position - or the view of language suggested by a world englishes framework - the heterogeny or hybridity position - my argument is that we need an understanding of English that allows for a critical appraisal of both the globalizing and worldly forces around the language. I am particularly interested here in looking at the complex interactions between global and local forces, English and popular culture. Debates around the global spread of English are still all too often caught between arguments about homogeneity or heterogeneity, linguistic imperialism or linguistic hybridity, that do not allow for sufficiently complex understandings of what is currently happening with global Englishes. Both frameworks, furthermore, maintain a belief in the ontology of English, that all this discussion of English concerns a real entity, a belief that has started to be quistioned in certain domains: “there is, or at least there may well be, no such thing as English" (Reagan, 2004, p42). First, however, I want to explore globalization and colonialism in greater depth.


Globalization and colonialism


In order to take these arguments further, we need to take a step back and reconsider questions of globalization. There is no space here to explore these in depth, so I shall take up one particular set of concerns - hostorical continuity and disjuncture - in order to develop a broader argument about how we may reconsider English in the cu