Communicating in “Global” English: Promoting Linguistic Human Rights or Complicit with Linguicism and Linguistic Imperialism

Robert Phillipson, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

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Scholars in intercultural communication studies seldom engage with language policies or the consequences of the hegemony of English. A key concept for addressing linguistic inequality and injustice is linguicism, which functions in comparable ways to racism and sexism. The dominance of English nationally and internationally has resulted from policies of linguistic imperialism, the constituents of which are clarified. The myth of terra nullius has been succeeded by the implantation of English worldwide as a cultura nullius that all should embrace, and the fraudulent myth of English being “global,” as though it serves all equally well, a lingua nullius in scholarship, educational language policy, and the wider society. The ultimate consequence of linguicist policies is linguistic and cultural genocide, as defined in UN human rights law, as experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. In academia, knowledge embedded in languages other than English can mean that scholars who function only in English are limited. Resistance to linguicism demonstrates language policy challenges being successfully addressed in academia in continental Europe, in successful revitalization of minoritized languages, and education policies building on local languages, as well as the learning of additional languages such as English, and potentially Chinese.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Global Interventions in Communication Theory
EditorsYoshitaka Miike, Jing Yin
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9780367486204, 9780367488901
ISBN (Electronic)9781003043348
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesInternational Communication Association (ICA) Handbook Series

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