Grounded in ethnography, this monograph explores the ambiguity of English as a lingua franca by focusing on identity politics of language and race in contemporary South Africa. The book adopts a multidisciplinary approach which highlights how ways of speaking English constructs identities in a multilingual context. Focusing primarily on isiZulu and Afrikaans speakers, it raises critical questions around power and ideology. The study draws from literature on English as a lingua franca, raciolinguistics, and the cultural politics of English and dialogues between these fields. It challenges long-held concepts underpinning existing research from the global North by highlighting how they do not transfer and apply to identity politics of language in South Africa. It sketches out how these struggles for belonging are reflected in marginalisation and empowerment and a vast range of local, global and glocal identity trajectories. Ultimately, it offers a first lens through which global scholarship on English as a lingua franca can be decolonised in terms of disciplinary limitations, geopolitical orientations and a focus on the politics of race that characterize the use of English as a lingua franca all over the world. This book will be of interest to students and researchers in linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, World Englishes, ELF and African studies.

chapter 1|16 pages


Framing the Study

chapter 4|16 pages

Marginalization and Empowerment

chapter 6|19 pages

Cosmopolitanism and Parochialism

chapter 7|16 pages

Gender(ed) Ambiguities

chapter 8|17 pages

Disruption and Innovation

chapter 9|10 pages

Positionality and Reflexivity

chapter 10|10 pages


Moving the Centre