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English-Only Movements

Valerie E. Barker


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English-only movements seek to establish English as the official language of a nation, part of a nation, or a colony. As such (as with other dominant languages), English acts as a communicator of social identity (→  Personality Development and Communication ) and a vehicle of culture and economic power (→  Power in Intergroup Settings ). Although proponents of English-only cite concerns about the erosion of English as a primary language, English is often seen as a language of wider communication, a world language, the language of globalization, and of the Internet. Underlying these descriptors is the notion of English as somehow “neutral” and non-threatening to multilingualism. Historically though, English either spread to or was imposed on minorities, indigenous populations and colonized peoples. This occurred first under English monarchies and the British Empire, exemplified by its imposition upon the Scots, Welsh, and Irish as well as its use almost exclusively in education systems of far-flung colonies like India and Africa. In the USA, Native Americans were systematically punished for non-English use and their children educated in boarding schools in order to diminish indigenous languages. Recently, English has come to be considered a “lingua franca” largely because of the number of English speakers (native and non-native) in the EU and because of USA corporate dominance globally ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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