Myths and Realities of ‘Global’ English

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article



The expansion of English worldwide tends to be both seen and marketed uncritically, as a universally relevant lingua franca and medium of education. The post-1945 expansion of English was a deliberate policy of the US and UK governments, foreseen in a speech by Churchill. Elsewhere Churchill endorsed university academic freedom and autonomy, which neoliberal forces currently constrain. Imperial languages are promoted by means of linguicism, which many contemporary policies exemplify. Increased use of English results in a macro-sociolinguistic tension between national linguistic capital accumulation or dispossession. European colonisation was legitimated by the fraudulent myth of terra nullius. Americanisation worldwide is furthered by projecting US norms and lifestyle as a cultura nullius for all. English is marketed as a lingua nullius, for instance in British promotion of English worldwide, as though English is a universal ‘basic skill’. This is false argumentation that echoes colonial discourse. Privileging English intensifies the gaps between the world’s haves and have-nots. This is also now in effect in the countries of the European Union. Critical scholarship is needed to connect macro-level analysis with micro-level conceptual myth-making promoting global English.

Publication information

Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage Policy
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages19
StatePublished - Aug 2017

    Research areas

  • Academic freedom, British Council, Global English, Imperialism, Linguicism, Linguistic capital, Terra nullius

ID: 44813989