English, Language Dominance, and Ecolinguistic Diversity Maintenance

Robert Phillipson, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    The chapter analyses how English became dominant and the implications of the expansion of dominant languages for the linguistic and cultural ecology and biodiversity. English has expanded through the imperialist and linguicist policies of the UK, the USA and the World Bank. Key structural and ideological parameters are identified. In postcolonial contexts, language in education policies remain largely unchanged. Linguicism can lead to linguicide. The need for terminological clarity is stressed: for instance “lingua franca” should not imply that language is unconnected to power. A multidisciplinary approach to analysing the relationships between linguistic and other diversities is needed. There is hard data on ecolinguistic impoverishment: diversity of all kinds is seriously endangered. Examples are given of mother-tongue-based multilingual education in Africa and of Nordic policies to maintain the vitality of local languages. However, these are up against the market forces behind English and European Union policies that strengthen English.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of World Englishes
    EditorsMarkku Filppula, Juhani Klemola, Devyani Sharma
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Publication date2017
    ISBN (Print)9780199777716
    ISBN (Electronic)9780199985036
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Published online December 2013


    • Biodiversity
    • European Union
    • Language endangerment
    • Lingua franca
    • Linguicide
    • Linguicism
    • Linguistic diversity
    • Linguistic imperialism
    • Mother-tongue based multilingual education
    • World Bank

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