chapter  1
6 Pages

Introduction: Towards a New Critique of Global English

The desire to produce a critique of global English has been no doubt salient since the earlier stages of the spread of English, when English came to be used beyond the Anglophone world as a language of colonialism. The struggle of colonial and postcolonial writers who debated the place of English in their language use is well known; the debate, in a sense, still continues over whether English should be rejected as a language that reproduces imperialistic relations, leading to the destruction and devaluation of local language, culture, and identity, or whether it can be seen as a legitimate language of local expression, a language that can bear the burden of local experience without limiting such experience through the lens of the colonialist, and in fact, a language that even can be transformed into a weapon to strike back at the oppressive global relationships of power. No matter which side one takes in the debate, the common realization is that English, in its dominant conception, is a language of inequality, supporting and renewing relations of power-including the capitalist relations of oppression on the global scale between the center and periphery; the persistent language ideological distinction of native

versus nonnative speaker which continues to delegitimize any eff ort to creatively appropriate the language outside the English-speaking West; and the class divisions that are reproduced as unequal access to English restricts the prospects of the poor in the educational and job market. Given the weight of the problems associated with English as a global language, there is an obvious need to produce a critique that can help us understand more precisely the nature of these problems and also suggest how we may address these problems.