ABSTRACT

This chapter surveys the important literature about English in the world and the English as a lingua franca (ELF) field as a backdrop to this book’s linguistic anthropological approach. I discuss scholarship with reference to critical voices and illustrate how individual ELF scholars have responded to this multifaceted critique. The recent shift and reorientation towards multilingualism has strengthened ELF scholarship as a field cognisant of the significance of other languages. This new direction also opens up possibilities for ELF scholarship to be conducted in the ex-colonies of the British Empire in which the dynamics of power, ideology, and race strongly impact on the ambiguous roles English maintains as a primary lingua franca. This chapter also sketches out how a focus on the non-benign and non-neutral status of English as a lingua franca offers a fruitful space to unravel some of the socio-political injustices on which global and local English rest. It proceeds to discuss raciolinguistic frameworks without which a linguistic anthropology of the role of English as a South African lingua franca would not be feasible.