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Reading: Ambivalent English: What We Talk About When We Think We Talk About Language

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Ambivalent English: What We Talk About When We Think We Talk About Language

Authors:

Taina Saarinen ,

University of Jyväskylä, FI
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Johanna Ennser-Kananen

University of Jyväskylä, FI
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Abstract

The ambivalence of English manifests itself in the discourses that surround it. English may be a resource and consume resources; it empowers and oppresses. The dichotomous discussion around the usefulness or dangers of English as a “global” or “world” language erases problematizations of the layered societal implications of English in localised contexts. English needs to be analysed not (only) as a language but (also) as the ideologies and societal structures intertwined with it. We examine English in two higher education contexts. Our first case deals with the so-called Accent Reduction courses offered for international students in US universities. The second one analyses English as a language political catalyst in a nation state context. We conclude with a discussion of the nativist and nation-state-centred role of global English. We argue that to discuss English as a language oversimplifies the societal implications of the debate. When we think we talk about English, we are, in fact, talking about the various societal, political, economic, cultural and historical power dynamics that accompany it.
How to Cite: Saarinen, T. and Ennser-Kananen, J., 2020. Ambivalent English: What We Talk About When We Think We Talk About Language. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(3), pp.115–129.
Published on 07 Oct 2020.
Peer Reviewed

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