LINGUA NULLIUS: INDIA CHASES LANGUAGE OF SUCCESS

Jeppe Blumensaat Rasmussen

and both parts will be supported by four chapters from the course book namely: The politics and policies of global English (Philip Seargeant) and English the industry (John Grey) to answer the first part and English literary canons (David Johnson) and Lear English. The paper will circle around the question “Whose interests does the article serve?” Is the motivation for expanding knowledge of English in India to benefit or UK (British Council) and the native English speaking world or to help? Using the concept of linguistic imperialism naturally implies looking into “English as the language of mobility versus English as capitalisms first language” as well as “and English as a global business lingua franca”. This paper has been very much inspired by the guest lecture given by Robert Philllipson and Tove Skuttnab-Kangas given October 23. teaching English as a foreign language. and English as a global business lingua franca. politically and culturally) linguistic future for India. Graddol’s analysis will be compared with Phillipson’s critique. This will be analysed in the eyes of Graddol’s publication “English Next: India” (2010) and Robert Phillipsons critique of this through the article: Macaulay alive and kicking: How linguistic imperialism continues. as a part of the lecture series.Read the article from The Guardian “India chases language of success” (as uploaded on Moodle) Use the article as a starting point for reviewing relevant theories and concepts. and stresses in the first paragraph that higher proficiency of English will serve as beneficial for all of society namely . bilingualism. 2012. On the basis of your review of relevant theory. This could include a discussion of one or more of the following topics: English as the language of mobility versus English as capitalisms first language. The title of the article itself implies that English is the language of success. allowing the country further progress. adding yet a more specific concept of lingua nullius created out of the two fromer. This assignment take its starting point in David Graddol’s (of the British Council) article in the Guardian “India chases language of success”. Learning through English (Ann Hewings) to answer the second part. The article argues that English is a key ingredient for India’s future development. Graddol’s article in the Guardian is used as an introduction for the future role of English in India. you should reflect over what you would find a sound (socially.

Thereis lack of evidence that children learn a language better by being introduced to it in an early stage in the education system. The article points to the fact that India needs to make of its mind of what the future development will be in the field of language policy. At the same time the article recognizes that 93% of the jobs in India stems from the "unorganised" sector. stating that Indian educational system is not at all geared to handle improvements of English learning because the sanitation system and the teachers are preventing it. Graddol does not stop his imperialistic discourse here. thereby implying that English is for everyone. improving enrolment and access to secondary schools. But who should this educational system serve? The article states that the private sectors demand for sufficient English speakers is not fulfilled. which is a classical fallacy in foreign language learning. if the child is not safe in its mother tongue yet. Graddol argues that: From an educational perspective. only around 20% of teachers are thought to have even a basic English competence.” Somehow Graddol makes it seem natural that English obviously should be a language taught by the beginning of primary school. where it currently cannot enter due to protectionist laws to protect the family-run business’. he follows up by stating that “the English . The leaves the reader with a very disturb view of the Indian educational system and makes it look very unserious. instead of linguistic and cultural educational. and in my view he hits bottom rock. when Phillipson’s critique of Graddol will be applied. drivers and even a street beggar”. Next up in the article Graddol tries to analyse what is preventing English to be improved in the educational system of India. but this discussion will return later in the paper. It also distracts from developing more basic needs in education: drinking water and toilets in schools. In some states. teachers who actually turn up and spend their time wisely in classrooms. It points to the fact that India has an enormous generation passing through the world’s largest educational system. and extending education in a child's first language. since graduates are not “employable” according to Nasscom. Graddol continues by attacking the primary school system stating that the problem is “lack of teachers who speak English… teachers in lower-primary school are weakest at English. The article continues taking up the struggle of multinational supermarket chains getting into the Indian market.“business. The way of learning should not be through a “mix of grammar and literature that has traditionally been taught in Indian classrooms”. It is hugely expensive. government and millions of ordinary people”. it is easy to find reasons for not investing in English. and can increase social mobility. implicit implying that education should take a more business oriented approach. The article suggests that English will help even “maids. In my point of view is he using a colonial discourse.

published by the British Council. So apparently. Lastly he has published a more specific edition of the English Next namely the Indian one being “English Next india” 2010. British Council (Phillipson. However. Whether this is ‘just’ imperial discourse or the population vision of using English as the tool of social mobility is hard to tell. and who is this British Council. and the need to include English teaching as a key component. p. 3). Furthermore. Regarding. there is no sign yet of much happening on the ground. Who is the Author? David Graddol established himself with the book “The future of English” in 1997. This will be returned to later in the paper. the Government’s educational system is not serving the Indian populations wishes very well. but it is simply due to lack of government support that these demands are not fulfilled. the Government’s position Graddol states in the middle of the article: Government ministers have made fine noises about the need to rapidly expand the vocational education sector.” To me this seems like a fairytale argument grabbed out of the thin air to imply that English serves the interest of the masses and no alienation from the local culture whatsoever. I cannot deliver an answer but I will try to look at the Graddol’s ideas and discourse through the lens of linguistic imperialism. It symbolises much more than the possibility of a better job: it provides a potential escape from poverty and the oppression of a lower-caste village life. He continuous by drawing on a survey made an Indian TV channel in the summer of 2009 which suggest “that 87% of Indians now "feel that knowledge of English is important to succeed in life"”.” This is a rather interesting conclusion to put it simple. to try to discover whether Graddol is serving other purposes than the idealistic idea of helping the Indian people out of their poverty. not least of where the job opportunities will be. In 2006 he wrote “English Next” published by the British Council as well. in which he tries to predict the future development of English as a world language. who is Daivd Graddol. The first part of the analysis by default will be. Graddol uses this final point to draw the conclusion that “Success and English are now tied together in the popular imagination across India.language washes even into rural backwaters. From thereon I will continue with a short introduction to how English have been planned to have an influence in the Indian society as a medium of control. it is pretty valuable to add that he is the editor of “English Today: The . According to Graddol the masses have the motivation for learning English.

happen to speak the same language and very largely think the same thoughts.p. Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire. but answers to the UK Parliament. 2).org/about http://www. alone in 2010 it had a turnover of £705 Million. but who is the British Council? British Council The British Council’s webpage states that they create “international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide.3 This makes the British Council apart of an often shadowed industry. p. was supported across the Atlantic by President Truman (1947) that stated: “The whole world should adopt the American system. Since then.org/about/history . fortunately for the progress of mankind. where he represents The English Company (UK) Ltd1. We call this work cultural relations. UK and USA have worked intensively on promoting the English language worldwide (Phillipson. As this suggests.International Review of the English Language”. Graddol is very interested in the future of English. p. 1 2 3 http://journals. This was made clear publicly already in 1941 when Winston Churchill announced in the House of Commons that: “The British Empire and the United States who. namely and industry of English. The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system” (Phillipson.cambridge. 2) This idea of colonizing the mind. and as a reaction to the successful rival propaganda activities by fascist countries.org/action/displayJournal?jid=ENG http://www. Winston Churchill 1(Phillipson. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.britishcouncil.britishcouncil. founded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Gray states (p. 1) BC was established in 1935 as a product of British oil companies with interests in the Middle East. 7). 141) that the British Council is a unique semi-state body that functions as a business. According to Phillipson (p.”2 This is done through 200 offices in more than 100 countries around the world. working with the vision of promoting English globally. a billion dollar business. It is not some kind of small business. Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire. and additionally he may be considered as a key author of the British Council.” This was supported by another statement in 1943 clearing the actual motive behind a global English: The power to control language offers far better prizes than taking away people’s provinces or lands or grinding them down in exploitation. especially as a global language.

but English in tastes. 18) note that Macaulay’s “political foresight lay in investing the indigenous cultural and political institutions with western liberal knowledge. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern. In the next section I will deal with the History of English in India. p. As Churchill stated the empire of the future is the empire of the mind. Essays in Literature.What I have tried to do in this section is to show how an organ as the British Council presents itself in one way as a cultural bridge maker serving idealist purposes of helping human kind develop. and on the other hand English being the first language of capitalism. The Indian educational system is still closely geared to the British model. 366). does Svati Joshi (Rethinking English. in opinions. This technique of colonizing the people through the language by and elite group was later coined Macaulayism. He analyzed the weapon of English to function like this: I feel with them that it is impossible for us. What Macaulay tried to do was to create one class that could function as officials representing the British taste. The 1835 formula for Government-sponsored modernization through English education has been a long time coming and is still relevant today if we look at Graddol’s article and work. to attempt to educate the body of the people. p. According to Phillipson. History. that the only way for the American system to survive would be to globalize it. p. a form of dominance far more powerful and permanent than any direct form of government” (Phillipson. to exactly 1835 and Thomas Babington Macaulay (1st Baron Macaulay of India). opinion etc. Language. But surprisingly enough Truman and Churchill were not the first ones to present these values of controlling people through the medium of the mind. One argument that was presented by Macaulay as well was that the quality of English literature was far better than Indian or Arabic (Johnson. with our limited means. in morals and in intellect. This was supported by Truman’s statement. a class of persons Indian in blood and colour. Clearly here we see the clash between English being the language of social mobility as argued by Graddol and the British Council itself. History of English in India To understand the history of English in India we need to jump back another 100 years before the British Council. but on the other hand is built on a different set of motivations and core values. and it will be colonized through the medium of English language. by showing quotes of world domination by Churchill and Truman. p. and Indian society remains elitist (Heimsath. and thereby mind or more accurately mindset. 2012. 186) . It was the elites job to pull India's masses into the modern world. 8).

.This development of using language to colonize the mind was early spotted by Gandhi when he wrote the Hind Swaraj (1907): “To give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave them. in the modern world. This is often based on social conditions and is known as linguistic capital (Seargeant. p. Linguistic imperialism is often seen in the context of cultural imperialism. or language imperialism. According to Phillipson is acknowledging “that there were problems of quality both in what was attempted and in what was ignored” (Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire. p. In the days of the two last quotes of Gandhi was under the ‘Quit India’ campaign. The foundation that Macaulay laid of education has enslaved us’ (Phillipson. 11).. We have borrowed the superficial features of the Western universities. in today’s world this would conflict with the concept of Linguistic Human Rights (Seargeant.the masses. 7). p. and flattered ourselves that we have founded living universities here. 2012. it is worth to bring in Bourdieu. but obviously it should be seen in the context of India being geographically decolonized. . The transfer is essentially a demonstration of power— traditionally. “English has usurped the dearest place in our hearts and dethroned our mother tongues” (1921). Gandhi even went more concrete with the discrimination and how it functioned when he addressed: “I am afraid our universities are the blotting-sheets of the West. p.' (Aafreedi. stated Gandhi in the case of prioritizing English over mother tongue. military power but also.. is a linguistics concept that "involves the transfer of a dominant language to other people". Linguistic imperialism Linguistic imperialism.20) What has been described above actually resides a theory which I am going to deal with in the next section. 27).. Do they reflect or respond to the needs of the masses?” (1942). 8). Additionally. 2012. 2010) The quote from Gandhi states the direct opposite of Graddol’s article. 2012.The result has been disastrous. since we have different classes being exposed and have different knowledge of English (level). the English language can have serious impact on neglecting other languages. As Gandhi points to. Tove Skuttnab-Kangas has coined this tendency as linguistic genocide (linguicide) with English being a killer language (Seargeant. economic power—and aspects of the dominant culture are usually transferred along with the language. We are too near our times correctly to measure the disservice caused to India by the neglect of its own languages. p. The consequences of this did Gandhi state two years later: ‘Our love of the English language in preferance to our own mother tongue has caused a deep chasm between the educated and.

English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) Some influential advocates of English as a ‘global language’ claim that the language has lost its ancestral connections to the UK and the USA and is now the property of anyone who uses it. i. The consolidation of a single language at the expense of others follows the same logic as seeing colonized territory as terra nullius. Iraq. a lingua nullius. music • lingua cultura? a subject in general education • lingua bellica? Afghanistan. p. globalisation of NATO • lingua academica? publications. 13). conferences. medium for content learning • lingua tyrannosaura? subtractive in specific domains . 2010. arms trade. see English as a lingua nullius detached from the forces behind its expansion (Phillipson.e. The marketing of English for all purposes and all people treats the language as a lingua nullius. Those who consider English as universally valid. p. terra nullius – lingua franca lingua economica? corporate neoliberalism = americanisation • lingua emotiva? Hollywood. 58). Europe now shares many language policy issues with India – including managing the emergence of English as a language of business and lingua franca (Graddol. including the current applied linguistic vogue for analysing English as a ‘Lingua Franca’.

BILINGUALISM IN INDIA By the time of the 1991 census. almost 20% of the population claimed they knew a second language and over 7% a third one. government and millions of ordinary people. ) 87% feel that knowledge of English is important to succeed in life 54% feel those who can speak fluent English are superior but also that: 82% feel that knowing the state language is very important 57% feel that English is making us forget our mother tongue 63% feel jobs should be reserved for those who speak the state language. India has 50% more children than China – making the Indian education system the largest in the world (Graddol. which indicated that a quarter of the Indian population claimed to know a second language. proficiency in English has come to be seen as a key to prosperity. 2010.qoutes from text: India chases language of success For business. but evidence that this hope will be fulfilled is lacking. 2010 p. That rate had only slightly slowed according to the 2001 data. p. 30).5% a third . and the rate of bilingualism was growing at an average rate of 1% every three years. and 8. Despite its slightly smaller total population. who is ordinary people? is there no class in India? Everyone should be ordinary people And there is now a huge and growing demand from parents from all social backgrounds that their children learn English Study from report (Graddol. published in late 2009.

86) India is also unusual in having built its recent economic growth on human capital. 2010 p. 112). 3). inevitably in a selective fashion (Phillipson. The complexity of the issues is presented lucidly. Official governmental studies are cited. linguistic and educational problems and challenges it faces. . p. 2010. What is drawn on and presented is glimpses of the issues. p. The report is not an academic study with exploration of the substantial literature on language and educational policy. rather than natural resources (e. English has become a more important part of Indian education during the last decade. and the wish of all classes and castes to attain the benefits that proficiency in English offers. the inefficiencies for many children of what is supposed to be education. 2010. and stress inequalities in India. The documents need to be seen in terms of the history of commercially-driven European colonisation in the imperial age and the market-driven commodification of English in the 21st century (Phillipson. Indian scholars figure only very selectively. However. It is now introduced into schools at an earlier age and more children are learning through the medium of English (Graddol. p. p. p. 1) It relates these historical factors to the false notion that English serves all equally well in the modern world (Phillipson. Many observations are valid and frank. 1) Graddol collected and processed a large amount of information about Indian society and the economic.g. oil) or low-cost labour (manufactured exports) (Graddol. Big shots from the Indian commercial world provided input on what they believe is needed in Indian education. and a 2009 World Bank report. and their views are generally not cited explicitly.(Graddol. 56).

8) The British tabloid The Sun. p. consortia exporting language teachers and advisers. The organization’s brand and selfpromotion are riddled with such contradictions. but it has a turnover £705 million. p. language schools. worth £3-4 billion a year’. 9). and in every Indian home (Phillipson. 300-301) is simply untrue (Phillipson. when Gordon Brown made his first visit as Prime Minister to India and China: Gordon Brown will today pledge to export the English language to the world – and boost our economy by billions. Mr Brown believes teaching English will quickly become one of Britain’s biggest exports. is that the UK has the expertise to solve India’s English-learning educational problems.50 for every £1 of public money received’. as no explicit advice is forwarded in the report. The assumption in the Indian report. This assumption – which I challenge . proclaimed on 18 January 2008. also commissioned and published by the British Council. Its Annual Report for 2009-2010 proclaims that it is ‘the UK’s international organization for cultural and educational relations’. It could add a staggering £50billion a year to the UK economy by 2010 (Phillipson. p. p. In surveys of English across the globe in Graddol’s earlier reports. in Indian education. A body that is ‘UK’s second biggest charity’ has as a primary purpose to ‘support the English language industry. To consider British promotion of English Language Teaching worldwide as exclusively a question of meeting demand (which the British Council has done for fifty years. publishers. the British Council bombastically proclaims that English is needed for success in the global economy. see Phillipson 1992.is subtly packaged. The British Council claims to be independent. 8). completely covert. owned by Rupert Murdoch. the connection between a multi-faceted analysis and British ELT was made openly: the purpose was to equip the British ELT establishment (universities. It is presented as a position paper for debate and follow-up (Phillipson. with its business operations (primarily teaching English and running examinations) generating ‘£2.) to adjust to a changing world and maintain the position of the billion-pound industry. .The unstated agenda is to strengthen the British English Language Teaching (ELT) industry. The future of English (1997). and English Next (2006). 3). etc.

'The English language. medicine. business and trade. where they have been turned strangers in their own country (1998: 90. the early start fallacy.92). there can be no democracy where a whole people have been denied the use of their languages. 10).. 12). technology. a source of unity in a rapidly changing world. Remember. an even more exclusive position than Macaulay’s (Phillipson. business. and to most World Bank policies for post-colonial education (Phillipson. And so it is a powerful force not just for economics. 2008) What is dangerous about these claims is that bureaucrats and an Indian readership might take them as gospel. whereas most scholars with a profound familiarity with language policy issues would not (Phillipson. author of Decolonising the Mind 1986. finance and other skills of survival because all these are stored in foreign-language granaries (Thiong'o. . 11). has stated that: There can be no real economic growth and development where a whole people are denied access to the latest developments in science. but for mutual respect and progress.. But it makes it possible for us to speak to each other.' Gordon Brown (British Council. 1997). the native speaker fallacy.English does not make us all the same . to better understand each other. and the subtractive fallacy. health. the maximum exposure fallacy. five professional fallacies: the monolingual fallacy. These are still central to the US-UK ‘English Language Teaching’ business.nor should it. as Ngugi wa Thiong'o rightly sees it in Decolonising the mind.English is much more than a language: it is a bridge across borders and cultures. p. p. began here and has spread to every corner of the globe. Phillipson characterize Graddol as Linguistic neoimperialism The famous African author Ngugi wa Thiong'o.. like football and other sports. for we honour who we distinctly are. This is a prescription for global linguistic apartheid. p..

htm British Council.org/home-about-us-world-ofdifference-india-english-language-teaching. Retrieved from Columbia University: http://www. Navras Jaat Aafreedi Social Activism: http://openspacelucknow. The Marginalisation of Mother Tongues and the Linguistic Apartheid in India . Retrieved from The British Council: http://www. N. English Next India: The Future of English in India. A. Professionalising multilingualism in higher education.d. B. The world's language: New website to boost English language skills. Bern/Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire: the language policy challenges. Delhi: Orient Blackswan. (1997. The role of colonial language in creating the image of a savage continent. Retrieved from British Council: http://www.britishcouncil. British Council. In G. Macaulay alive and kicking: How linguistic imperialism continues.d.blogspot.Bibliography Aafreedi.com/historicalviews/language. Ziegler. N. T. About the British Council. January). February 7). Phillipson. D. In G. (n. B. December 21).html Phillipson. Rao.britishcouncil.). Macaulay. (2010). Foreign languages in India: Towards a glocal world. .edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00generallinks/macaulay/txt_minute_educatio n_1835.d.htm . R. Retrieved from Trinicenter: http://www. dated the 2nd February 1835.html British Council. (2010. D. (n.trinicenter. Macaulay. (n.org/about Graddol. (2008. Minute by the Hon'ble T. (n. w.). Retrieved from Dr. R. Thiong'o.).columbia.dk/2010/02/marginalisation-of-mother-tongues-and.).d.

it is internalised and naturalised as being ‘normal’ • linguistic imperialism interlocks with a structure of imperialism in culture. inequality. education. proficiency in the imperial language and in learning it in education involving its consolidation at the expense of other languages • there are invariably push and pull factors. supply and demand mutually reinforcing each other • linguistic imperialism is invariably contested and resisted. stigmatize others. and military activities • in essence it is about exploitation. a favouring of one language over others in ways that parallel societal structuring through racism. and imagery glorify the dominant language. those with convertible linguistic capital. 2009): • it is a form of linguicism. the economy. and hierarchy that privileges those able to use the dominant language • this entails unequal rights for speakers of different languages • language use is often subtractive. politics. attitudes.Enclosure Definition from Phillipson: Linguistic imperialism has these defining features (Phillipson 1992. sexism and class: linguicism also serves to privilege users of the standard forms of the dominant language. and rationalise the linguistic hierarchy • the dominance is hegemonic. • it is structural: more material resources and infrastructure are accorded to the dominant language than to others • it is ideological: beliefs. injustice. . communication. the media.

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