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John O'Regan - The political economy of English in a capitalist world-system
English is the world’s dominant language with an estimated 1.5 billion users worldwide, of which those who think of themselves as ‘native speakers’ account for approximately 350 million. But it is not simply English that is a dominant language in the world, but a particular standard grammar, or form. The hegemony of the standard exists despite the enormous linguistic variation in English which occurs in the world, and also in spite of the challenges to English which are presented by major global languages such as Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. Many suggest that this situation dates from 1945 and the rise to global dominance of the United States. Others look to the nineteenth century and the empire of the British. I prefer to go back further in order to locate the origins of the ascent of English in the sixteenth century and the rise of a capitalist world-economy. It is from the sixteenth century that the die is set for English to become the dominant language in the world. It is found in international institutions, in multinational corporations, in international centres of finance, in international business, in the hospitality and services industries and in all kinds of academic research and writing. It is also taught as a foreign language to millions of learners in classrooms across the world. In applied linguistics and sociolinguistics an enormous volume of research has been produced challenging the dominance of this form. Drawing upon observations contained in my book Global English and Political Economy (O’Regan, 2021), I give an overview some of these arguments and invite discussion on the implications for students and academic writing professionals in the context of writing support in contemporary HE.

Oct 28, 2021 04:00 PM in London

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