chapter  8
18 Pages

English as Commodity: The Life of Indexical Meaning

Once we understand how English is established as an entity, we can start to consider how it comes to be seen as a commodity-which is an important point if we want to critique the place of English in the linguistic market. Global English is of course more than just a commodity-its signifi cance lies not just in the domain of economic exchange but in the entire range of social relations in which it is implicated. Nonetheless, the way in which English comes to be linked with economic value seems crucial for our understanding of the position of English in the world today. In our neoliberal world, arguments for promoting English are often articulated in economic terms, and English is the ultimate commodifi ed linguistic resource in the global market. Though discourses and practices that go against such forces of commodifi cation still abound and must be accounted for, many of the problems of global English derive from or relate to how English is seen as an economic resource, a commodity that can be exchanged in the market for material profi t. The next step in our critique of global English, for this reason, must be to uncover the construction of English as a commodity.