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Linguistic imperialism, globalism, and the English language•Impérialisme linguistique, mondialisation, et anglais Phyllis Ghim-Lian ChewNational Institute of Education, SingaporeAbstractThe idea that the spread of English was a post-colonial plot perpetrated by the core English-speaking countries, who hoped to maintain their dominance over Âperiphery’ (mostly developing) countries, has received mach attention in linguistic circles. This paper argues that such a notion ascribes too much power to the English language,as opposed to the language policy makers and language users. It views the phenomenal growth of English more as a result of globalism rather than linguistic or cultural imperialism.ResumeL’idée que l’expansion de l’anglais serait un complot post-colonial conçu par les pays anglo-saxons afin de maintenir leur domination sur les pays Âpériphériques’ (en voie de développement pour la plupart) préoccupe beaucoup les milieux linguistiques.Les auteurs estiment que c’est là attribuer trop de pouvoir à la langue anglaise par rapport aux décideurs de la politique linguistique et aux usagers. Ils perçoivent l’expansion phénoménale de l’anglais comme le resultat de la mondialisation plus que comme celui d’un impérialisme linguistique ou culturel.IntroductionWith the demise of empire, most newly independent countries have had to struggle with the choice of official language policy. English, or some other former colonial language, was often thought of by these countries as the most realistic option for a national language: it apparently favoured no particular indigenous group and was the language best suited and most immediately available for national development, both educationally and economically. Not surprisingly,most of the former colonies ended up with English as one of their official languages and, ultimately, the predominant language in education, business and government.However, the retention of a former colonial language as one of the official languages was not without its fears and trepidation. Much of the powerful rhetoric denouncing the continued use of colonial languages came from Western intellectuals such as Fanon (1963), who linked their continuing use to the determination and ability of ex-colonial masters to maintain their economic, cultural, and political dominance beyond independence. The introduction of English into the former British colonies, for example, was said to have the effect of putting into circulation#p#分页标题#e#new discursive practices and creating a cultural Other. The Other was marginalised,confined, silenced and had a new subjectivity imposed on it. It was also categorised and evaluated in terms of norms that were alien to it. Often a hierarchical relationship between the colonialiser and the Other was instituted where the unchallenged point of reference was the culture of the coloniser.It became only a matter of time after World War II before the phenomenal spread of English began to be questioned by language professionals themselves. By the 1980s, more concerns began to surface regarding the theoretical, methodological, ethical, and professional issues related to the global spread and use of English.1 Researchers began to question the spread of English as being Ânatural’and Âneutral’, and attempted to deconstruct ‘English’ and `EIL’. Tollefson (1991), for example, relates the close relationship between language policy, power, and privilege. Arguing that language education has become increasingly ideological with the spread of English, he shows how language is one criteria for determining which people will complete different levels of education. In other words, whenever people must learn a new language to have access to education or to understand classroom instruction, language is a factor in creating and sustaining economic division.Phillipson’s (1992) timely book, Linguistic Imperialism, an extensive study of the development and spread of ELT throughout the world – and a lucid account of ‘North-South inequalities and exploitation’ – received much attention when it first appeared.2 Quoting an English-language entrepreneur who Said, `Once we used to send gunboats and diplomats abroad; now we areLe début de la domination de I’anglais à Singapour ne fut pas le résultat d’un impérialisme linguistique mais plutôt celui d’une décision délibérée prise par les dirigeants et le peuple après avoirsoigneusement considéré les tendances mondiales et les conditions localessending English teachers,’ Phillipson advanced the idea of ‘linguistic imperialism’:that is, that the spread of English as a post-colonial plot an the part of the core English-speaking countries, which hoped to maintain their dominance over ÂperipheryÊ (mostly developing) countries.Another term introduced by Phillipson was ‘linguicism’, a situation where the imposition of a language – in this case, English – was equated to the imposition of the cultural, social, emotional, and linguistic norms of the dominating society onto the dominated society, thus maintaining an unequal allocation of power and resources. Phillipson further cites the preferential allocation of educational resources to English in a multilingual environment as a good example of linguicism in action, and identifies two mechanisms frequently used to legitimise this ideology in the context of English language education. First, the fact that English is the language of science and technology, thus making it the only viable choice of modern education; and second, the effect of disconnecting ELT theory and practice from its broader societal context.#p#分页标题#e#Linked to the suspicion of ‘linguicism’ is the accompanying fear that the dominante of English, if allowed to follow a natural course, will not only diminish the use of minority languages but replace them entirely (cf. Shannon, 1995;Sonntag, 1995). This is not without some justification since language in contact has become, increasingly, to be viewed as languages in competition (Fishman, 1994;Pool, 1991). Researchers such as Skutnabb-Kangas and Cummins (1988) have described the phenomenon of linguistic hegemony in the case of languages achieving the Status of `dominant’, ‘prestigious’ or `inferior’ as a result of competition with other languages. Once a language achieves hegemonic status, dominated languages are more easily perceived as inferior, and their speakersinternalise their lowly status. Consequently users abandon their language for the dominated one. Throughout the world, similar scenarios have been played out between dominant and dominated languages, some examples being French versus Breton, Turkish versus Kurdish, and neonational versus indigenous language.Pennycook (1994) takes the argument of linguistic imperialism a few steps further. He uses theories of postmodernism to deconstruct the discourse of EIL,English, and indeed, language itself. His argument is that one can never just ‘teach a language’ since it is bound up with its own worldly ideology. Pennycook develops the notion of the `worldliness of English’ and devotes two central chapters to case studies of this phenomenon in Malaysia and Singapore. For Pennycook, English is a remnant of western imperialism, operating globaily in conjunction with capitalist forces, especially those of operations of multinational corporations. Besides being the language of science and economic advancement, it is also the language of unequal distribution of wealth.Case study: Singaporelt is my view that the concept of `linguistic imperialism’ ascribes too muck power to the language, as opposed to the language policy makers and the language users. 1 will use the republic of Singapore as a case in point to illustrate how the early dominante of English came about not so much as a result of linguistic imperialism, but through a conscious decision on the part of its leaders and populace, after the careful consideration of world trends and local conditions.The implementation of a national education System with English as the medium of instruction came about through a `bottom-up’ rather than a ‘top-down’ process and was attained relatively easily – without strong controversy or bloodshed.Like the world at large, Singapore has many distinct races and cultures and is a multicultural community possessing extreme multilingualism, both individual and societal. It is also a unique country in the sense that it is a place where the term `bilingualism’ is not associated simply with minority groups or migrants, but one in which knowing and using several languages is expected. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that while many countries try to teach their children to be literate in more than one language, Singapore tries to do it in reverse – it tries to educate an entire population so that everyone is literate in English and at the same time has a reasonable knowledge of their mother tongues (Pakir, 1994). A study of Singapore is therefore a study of how English has edged its way to become the principal school language, a major workplace language, the language of government, and an ethnic link-language, as well as a native language for an increasing number of children.#p#分页标题#e#It must be noted, firstly, that it was a conscious choice on the part of the Singapore government not to indulge in the linguistic nationalism of many postcolonial countries but rather to concentrate an economic survival, which was looked upon as invariably linked with political survival. In 1959, at the point of independence, Singapore was segmented by deep ethnic and linguisticsegmentation. It was poor, had a rapidly rising birth-rate and possessed few prospects for economic survival. Political identity was contested terrain and it was dependent largely an external trade. To ensure its survival, it was deemed imperative that it should have a dominant language which would enable it to survive politically, socially, and culturally. English was seen as the language which would attract foreign investment, and give the society the leading edge in education, academic achievement, international trade, and business. The policy of economic nationalism, which had characterised many post-colonial states, was therefore eschewed for one of pragmatic viability in a rapidly changing world. ‘Linguistic capital’ (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1977), for example, the ownership of the world’s foremost auxiliary language, was widely viewed as easily convertible into other forms of capital, such as educational qualifications and higher incomes.This belief was apparent in the large sums of money parents were willing to spend on language tuition for their children and in their personal choice of enrolling their children in English-medium schools so as to give them a Âheadstart’.3 Not surprisingly, enrolments in Chinese, Tamil, and Malay-medium schools began to decline sharply in the 1960s and 1970s.4 In the 1970s, preference for enrolment into Primary One English-medium schools had risen to a ratio of 8:1. By 1978, the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had to specially intervene through a series of external measures to save the best Chinese schools as well as the Chinese-medium Nanyang University.To ensure their existence, 13 Chinese schools were selected by the Ministry of Education to continue teaching Chinese asa first language, but their students also had to learn English as a first language. Similarly, to ensure its survival, Nanyang University was amalgamated with the National University of Singapore through what was known as the Joint Campus scheme of 1978-9.The choice of English over Mandarin, Tamil, and Malay as the medium of instruction in schools was therefore a Âbottom-upÊ decision by the populace, the de facto but ÂinvisibleÊ planner. While there always have been fears that the widespread adoption of English would lead to a loss of ethnic identity and more importantly, a loss of ÂAsian valuesÊ, yet the populace voted with their feet where choice of language-stream schools for their children education was concerned. When it came to the crunch, they valued a situation that left traditional cultures open to risk but with increasing material returns as preferable to the full retention of ethnic pride and culture but with diminishing material returns. There was a pragmatic realisation that their lack of a command in English would mean the continued marginalisation of their children in a world that would continue to use the language to a greater degree. It would also deny them access to the extensive resources available in English -resources which have developed as a consequence of globalisation.#p#分页标题#e#It has been argued that linguicism violates the human rights of speakers of dominated languages. Paradoxically, the aim of ensuring human rights is often used to persuade speakers of other languages that they should adopt English as their dominant language, because English is the key to modernisation and thus political and economic power and control. Where minority languages are concerned,research has also shown that it is not so much numerical domination which is responsible for minority status but linguistic diversity. Countries with the most linguistic diversities often have serious racial problems and a poor economy(Robinson, 1993:52-70). In addition, Fasold (1984) and Pool (1991) have shown how multilingualism leads to slower economic development. After years of economic nationalism, Malaysia (Singapore’s closest neighbour) has also been following in its footsteps in the last few years, by renewing an emphasis on the learning of English in the hope of accelerating economic development for itself 5 Phillipson’s ideological world view has also prevented him from even entertaining the possibility that English can be ever truly considered an adopted African or Asian language. There are many countries where institutionalised second language varieties of English have developed (for example, India, Kenya, Singapore, and Puerto Rico) and where the attitudinal conflict between indigenous and external norms is being resolved in favour of La vision idéologique du monde de Philipson I’a aussi empêché de pouvoir seulement envisager la possibilité qu’un jour on pourrait considérer l’anglais comme une langue africaine ou asiatique adoptée localised educated norms (Chew, 1995a). Today, aggressive use of English, not just in Singapore but in other parts of the world, is changing the concept of ownership(Chew, 1995b). English is beginning to function independently, without the participation of nation speakers, for the use and benefit of nonnative speakers. In Nigeria, for instance, English is no longer perceived as the imperial tongue and the reasons for learning it are pragmatic in nature. Bisong (1995) maintains, ÂNigeriansare sophisticated enough to know what is in their interest and their interest includes the ability to operate with the lingua franca in a multilingual Situation.Ê As is well known in Singapore, one language can, in fact, be the courier of many cultures and sub-cultures, of myriad values and sets of values, of different religions and of antagonistic political Systems – as is the case of English (cf. Ho and Platt,1993; Gupta, 1992).Moreover, bilingualism and biculturalism need not necessarily go hand in hand. In Singapore, the position is stated very clearly: ÂyesÊ to English and ÂnoÊ to western cultural values. Singaporeans like to think of their city as ÂmodernÊ but not ÂwesternÊ. Similarly, while English is the official language of Asean, Asean has not shown itself to be either pro-British or pro-American. In Hong Kong, students and their parents state their preference in English but show little interest in supporting the weight of British, European, or Western culture and civilisation. So although English is the world language, neither British nor Americans seem able to use English to dominate international organisations or their policies as they might wish to. Perhaps there is a lesson for the rest of the world grappling with the issue of cultural identity and language maintenance. One of the unfortunate aspects of the world debate an culture is the emphasis which some people place on the#p#分页标题#e#preservation of culture, almost with the same attitude that one has towards the preservation of museum pieces. A Âpragmatic multilingualismÊ (Pakir, 1991), such as that observed in Singapore, views the study of cultures as important human endeavours as long as the profit and prestige involved in these activities do not become motivating forces blocking the progress of a whole people. Preserving one’s culture does not mean clinging to the past but changing as one goes along. In the light of unceasing globalisation and cultural diversity, perhaps it is time to highlight the use of the international auxiliary language more as a means to an end rather than as an emblem of culture (Chua and Chew, 1993).In a recent paper, Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas (1996), recounted the plight of people from all parts of India whose family history reflected a loss of the mother tongue in a short period of time. While this is a situation deserving of empathy,sometimes sacrifices are necessary for future gain. In Singapore, many grandparents have been unable to communicate with their grandchildren due to the loss of the mother tongue. However, there has been no strong protest despite swift changes because there has been a shrewd willingness on the part of the oldergeneration to sacrifice – accepting a personal inconvenience for the material wellbeing of the younger generation in a fast-changing world. A high level of instrumental motivation has also enabled increasing numbers of younger Singaporeans to compete effectively with native-speaking children in Britain, taking,for example, the Cambridge ÂOÊ level examination. In a recent survey whereby 1,800 nine-year olds inindependent and state schools in England and Wales completed a series of tests, it was discovered, ironically, that British pupils were in the bottom half of the ranking!The British standard fell below the top 10 countries, led by Finland, whose pupils’average score was considerably higher. (Straits Times, Singapore, 2 August 1996.) We may surmise, even from this isolated example, that while the widespread use of English gave English-speaking nations a headstart advantage in the world arena, this was relevant only during the period of transition. As more and more non-native speakers begin to learn English from an early age – indeed there are now more nonnative than native speakers in the world – they will begin to compete with ÂtraditionalÊ native-speakers for the top literary and journalistic prizes. Eventually,the Standards and norms will also, necessarily, need to reflect the cultural histories and identities of the users (Kachru, 1985).At this point, it should be noted that we are talking about an international auxiliary language and not about a language to replace all the others. Bilingualism can be a source of great joy, increased intellectual development, creativity, and cultural sensitivity, and it is perfectly possible to organise education so that children develop high levels of competence in at least two languages. One notes that while English is the official language in, for example, Nigeria, it has not succeeded in displacing any of the indigenous languages. The Scandinavians and Dutch with a good command of English have also not phrased out their own languages or been educated through the medium of English. Similarly, in Singapore,English is learnt in school together with another official language – Mandarin,Tamil,or Malay.#p#分页标题#e#For Singaporeans, the mechanistic view that English is incorrigibly permeated with imperialism and reaction is something quite alien since it denies the complex social potential of language. A language must be at the service of people who use it. There is a Âpragmatic multilingualismÊ in existence, a situation where the population has knowingly done a calculation and views the adoption of English not so much as a threat to their own languages but as the key to a share of the world’s symbolic power: towards the accumulation of cultural, political and economic capital.Globalism and the English language English is indisputably the language of international communication. It has official status in 60 countries and a prominent place in 20 more Johnson, 1996). It is the main language of books, academic journals, the media and international sports and entertainment. The 20th century has witnessed the emergence of a world language with no dose rival and, while it is a familiar phenomenon for one language, for example, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Arabic, and French to serve as a lingua franca over a large area of many languages, what is unusual is that never before has a single language spread for such purposes over most of the world as English has done in this century.The growth in the use of English should be seen more as part of the worldwide movement of ÂglobalismÊ rather than as an aspect of linguicism. The recent emphasis on the study of power and domination in language use has led to a blinkered view where the growth of English is concerned.There seems to be a denial of the salient underlying momentum of the whole of the 20th century -globalisation. A new world requires new ways of perception. Its auxiliary, the technological revolution in communication, also precludes the turning back to a more secluded and nationalistic lifestyle.As we near the year 2000, political scientists speak of a ÂNew World OrderÊ. Many dramatic changes have happened internationally. Who would have dreamt that the Iron Curtain would come down so quickly? The end of the Cold War and the relaxation of East-West tensions are unsettling national stabilities in several countries. Even the United Nations is finally gaining prominence in world events. It may be observed that with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil 1992, the world moved towards a stronger acknowledgement of its global finitude. At this point of time, it is obvious that globalism has not as yet assumed transcendency since nationalism is the banner to which every country still ascribes. However, while global thinking is certainly not new, it is gaining recognition and acceptance. And while nationalism traditionally has been a dominant force in social identity, it is losing strength. Just as environmentalists encourage people to think globally andact locally, countries are beginning to juggle global concerns with national issues.Suddenly, the rise of the big blue marble as the backdrop to television news, as the logo for international conferences, sports events and commercial enterprise is discernible in every corner. Whether we realise it or not, it has become the icon of the age. This world icon has come to represent a sign or symbol that not only denotes a set of ideas pertaining to globalism but also connotes, at one precise strike, such emotions as reverence, conviction, and inspiration.#p#分页标题#e#Until World War II, the tallest buildings in any city or town provided stark witness to the leading belief systems. For many years, churches were probably the tallest buildings in any town. Only in the last few decades, have banks and office buildings come to dominate the urban landscape. The western world has moved through a variety of religious, emotional, and social mindsets. In the western world,Christianity has long been the dominant mindset. For many centuries, there was a pervasive use of crosses and other religious symbols: people still continue to make the sign of the cross and wear crosses. A more predominant symbol since the 1950s has been the frightening and fatalistic image of the mushroom-shaped cloud of the atomic bomb. An atomic mushroom has consistently, if not consciously, ruled international relations and stimulated personal fears. Following this – and perhaps as a result of the terror, or an effort to countermand that deep fear – we have completed an era where the Coca-Cola sign was identified as the most widely recognised trademark. This image of consumerism, with its swirls and bubbled letters, has been surveyed as the most readily recognised symbol throughout the world. More recently Mickey Mouse has become the most popular image. Indeed, Mickey Mouse’s ears have been surveyed as the most well-recognised icon to date!The popularity of this symbol represents the prominence of American popular culture.Lately, however, a new symbol has entered our collective consciousness. The graphic portraits of the Earth could be only imagined until the 1960s. A satellite photo of the Earth first gained prominente at Expo 67. This image has since then penetrated every aspect of culture and media: the big blue marble icon is now pervasive. As with previous icons, the satellite picture of Earth is now increasingly used as a motif on clothing and accessories, posters and in advertisements. This icon, symbolic of a new consciousness, proposes the important economic, political, and socialconcerns that must be addressed in world shifts from the dominant paradigms of capitalist economies to a global (named in this case ÂenvironmentalÊ) mindset, that supersedes globallimits in relation to conventional capitalist guidelines for economic development.In the past, it was possible for people to be born into a family, to remain within the clan, live in a small community, work in a pre-assigned occupation, and die without much accomplishmentbeyond having survived harsh conditions. Even today, masses of humanity are still living under such circumstances. Nevertheless, there is ample evidente that the situation is changing. The technological advances that have greatly facilitated the movement of people and ideas have removed the barriers that have kept people apart and ignorant. Whether we like it or not, the era of isolation has come to an end. The global village heralds the dawn of association and integration.Whenever there is change, there is resistance. Therefore, it is not surprising that we are also witnessing a huge worldwide increase in nationalistic and ethnic fervour. These developments are the final efforts of various segments of humanity to establish and affirm their respective identities. From a psychological perspective, this is an essential aspect of the development of human societies, as well as human individuals.#p#分页标题#e#By some stroke of its own sheer good fortune, the English language seems to be bound up in the phenomenon of globalism. Each world war and technological development seem to propel it forward. The cost in battling globalism is tremendous and it is doubtful whether any country can survive the battle. First the financial expense – to be spent on supporting translation services, terminological commissions, scientific and technical societies and so on. Second, the human cost in the distribution of the labour force, the fact that thousands of highly-educated workers have to be channelled to work on language issues, and third, the moral cost of supporting community linguistic rights over individual rights.Beaucoup de grandsparents ne sont plus capables aujourd’hui de communiquer avec leurs petits-enfants parce que ceux-ci ne connaissent pas la langue d’origine de la famille. Pour commencer une nouvelle vie dans un autre pays, an était tout à fait prêt à abandonner la langue du pays d’origineIt is probably not possible to survey briefly world events over the last decade without feeling intense excitement, without being aware that one is witnessing events of great historical significance. Dicken’s reference to the French revolution in the opening sentence in A Tale of Two Cities seems to capture the sense and the spirit of the age in which we live: Âit was the best of times, and it was the worse of times.Ê The current age is, indeed, one of expectations and hope as well as deepening contradictions and uncertainties.6 In the context of this paper, what thecurrent age does show, however, is that it is just too simplistic to ascribe the growth of the foremost international language merely to the notion of linguistic imperialism without considering the relentless march of globalism and the pragmatic perspective of newlyformed nations which have recognised this trend early in their history.Notes1 For example, at the 26th Annual Convention ofTESOL held between March 3-7 at Vancouver,Canada, there was a colloquium on Partnership and Patronage in ELT Development to explore the methods, motives,and effects of ELT in the countries of the Commonwealth and Eastern Europe.2 The book was immediately reviewed by five professionals in World Englishes, 1992, 12,3:335-73.3 The Census of 1980 showed English as a clear indicator of socio-economic Status. Homes which declared English as a predominant household language had higher income levels.4 With independence in 1959, Singapore decided to retain the system of four language-medium schools (English, Mandarin,Tamil, and Malay) to cater to the needs of the different ethnic groups.5 This returned attention to English is also happening in Sri Lanka.6 Brzezinzki (1993:ix-x) writes: ÂHistory has not ended but has become compressed. Whereas in the past, historical epochs stood out in relatively sharp relief, and could thus have a defined sense of historical progression, history today entails sharp discontinuities that collide with each other, condense our sense of perspective, and confuse our historical perceptionsÊ.#p#分页标题#e#
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