Global and worldly Englishes Discommunities and subcultural empires

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have played a crucial role not only in assisting past and current forms of colonialism and neocolonialism, not only in attacking and destroying other ways of being, but also in terms of the language effects their projects have engendered. The choices missionaries have made to use local or European languages have been far more than a mere choice of medium. On the one hand, missionary language projects continue to use and promote European languages, and particularly English, for Christian purposes. The use of English language teaching as a means to convert the unsuspecting English language learner raise profound moral and political questions about what is going on in English classrooms around the world. On the other hand, missionary linguists have played a particular role in the construction and invention of languages around the world. Of particular concern here are the ways in which language use, and understandings of language use, have been - and still are - profoundly affected by missionary projects. Bilingualism between indigenous languages and a metropolitan language, for example, was part of a conservative missionary agenda in which converting to Christianity was the inevitable process of being bilingual.

(see Pennycook and Coutand-Marin, 2003; Pennycook and Makoni, in press).

The implications of this understanding of colonial language policy are several: First, education in vernacular languages was promoted both as a means of colonial governance and as an Orientalist project for the maintenance of cultural formations. While this has many implications for an understanding of mother tongue education and modes of governance (see Pennycook, 2002), it is also significant for the role of English both before and after the formal ending of colonialism. The effects of Anglicist rhetoric did not produce widespread teaching of English but did produce widespread images of English as a superior language that could bestow immense benefits on its users, a topic to which I shall turn below. Meanhwile the language had been coveted and acquired by social and economic elites with whom the British were now negotiating independence. This was to have significant implications for the neocolonial development of English in the latter half of the 20th century.

One of the lasting effects of the spread of English under colonialism was the production of images of English and of its learners. Simply put, the point here is that English, like Britain, its empire and institutions, was massively promoted as the finest and greatest medium for arts, politics, trade and religion. At the same time, the learners of English were subjected to the imaginings of Orientalism, with its exoticised, static and derided Others. Thus, on the one hand, we have the cultural constructs of Orientalism - the cultures and characters of those who learn English - and on the other hand the cultural constructs of Occidentalism - the benefits and glories of the English language. As many writers on colonialism have argued (see for example, Singh, 1996, Mignolo, 2000), such discourses have continued long beyond the formal end of colonialism. Thus, not only can we see the current spread of English in terms of economic and political neocolonial relations, but also in terms of cultural neocolonial relations. As Bailey (1991) comments, "the linguistic ideas that evolved at the acme of empires led by Britain and the United States have not changed as economic colonialism has replaced the direct, political management of third world nations. English is still believed to be the inevitable world language" (p.121).

I have dealt with these at length elsewhere (1998), so I shall only draw attention here to particular aspects of this. First, the global spread of English, as a good and righteous event was seen as already well on its way in the 19th century. Guest (1838/1882), for example, argued that English was "rapidly becoming the great medium of civilization, the language of law and literature to the Hindoo, of commerce to the African, of religion to the scattered islands of the Pacific" (p.703). According to Read (1849, p.48, cited in Bailey, 1991, p.116), in a claim that already in the middle of the 19th century reflects Mignolos phases of colonial expansion: "Ours is the language of the arts and sciences, of trade and commerce, of civilization and religious liberty... It is a store-house of the varied knowledge which brings a nation within the pale of civilization and Christianity... Already it is the language of the Bible... So prevalent is this language already become, as to betoken that it may soon become the language of international communication for the world". And for others, this would clearly be at the expense of other languages: "Other languages will remain, but will remain only as the obscure Patois of the world, while English will become the grand medium for all the business of government, for commerce, for law, for science, for literature, for philosophy, and divinity. Thus it will really be a universal language for the great material and spiritual interests of mankind" (George, 1867, p6)

Such statements continue on through the 20th century, with a particular focus emerging on the suitability of English for its global role. In the 19th century George claimed that Britain had been "commissioned to teach a noble language embodying the richest scientific and literary treasures," asserted that: "As the mind grows, language grows, and adapts itself to the thinking of the people. Hence, a highly civilized race, will ever have, a highly accomplished language. The English tongue, is in all senses a very noble one. I apply the term noble with a rigorous exactness" (George, 1867, p4). In the 20th century many writers have insistently claimed that English has more words than any other language and thus is a better medium for expression or thought than any other. Claiborne (1983), for example, asserts that "For centuries, the English-speaking peoples have plundered the world for words, even as their military and industrial empire builders have plundered it for more tangible goods". This plundering has given English "the largest, most variegated and most expressive vocabulary in the world. The total number of English words lies somewhere between 400,000 - the number of current entries in the largest English dictionaries - and 600,000 - the largest figure that any expert is willing to be quoted on. By comparison, the biggest French dictionaries have only about 150,000 entries, the biggest Russian ones a mere 130,000" (p.3). The MacMillan dossier on International English (1989) reiterates the point, claiming that "There are more than 500,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary. Compare that with the vocabulary of German (about 200,000) and French (100,000)" (p.2). Claiborne (1983) goes on to explain the implications of this large vocabulary: "Like the wandering minstrel in The Mikado, with songs for any and every occasion, English has the right word for it - whetever it may be". Thus, "It is the enormous and variegated lexicon of English, far more than the mere numbers and geographical spread of its speakers, that truly makes our native tongue marvellous - makes it, in fact, a medium for the precise, vivid and subtle expression of thought and emotion that has no equal, past or present. ” In case the implications of this are not clear, Claiborne goes on to claim that English is indeed "not merely a great language but the greatest" (p.4)


Globalization and worldliness


The emergence of English as a global language, then, needs to be understood in relation to this colonial history. There are several further implications of this understanding of English in relation to globalization. I have been trying to stake out a view of globalization and English that takes us beyond the dated and static theories of linguistic imperialism and world englishes. Understanding Englishes in the context of globalization suggests that various linguistic uses that used to be more localized are now occurring on a global scale; these global language uses are not determined by economic relations alone, but rather are part of complex networks of communication and cultural flows. In order to grasp such language use, we need to understand that we are dealing here with radically new conditions and theories. Such use of Other Englishes need to be understood both in terms of their historical continuity and in terms of historical disjuncture; they also need to be understood critically in terms of new forms of power, control and destruction, as well as new forms of resistance, change and appropriation.

The predominant paradigms through which we have come to look at English in the world have remained states-centric conceptualizations of English as a multinational language. Both the world Englishes framework, with its focus on emergent national standards, with speakers of English defined by national identity, and the imperialism and language rights frameworks with English imperialism defined according to the Americanization/ Englishization/ homogenization of the world (with language rights as a language-defined rearguard action) work with definitions of nations, languages, communities and constituences that fail to question the colonial origins of the terms with which they operate and lack a means to engage with current global relations.

Sonntag insightfully points out that the rights-based approach to support for linguistic diversity and opposition to the English-Only movement “has not fundamentally altered the American projection of its vision of global English…because a rights-based approach to promoting linguistic diversity reinforces the dominant liber