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Linguistic Imperialism (Oxford Applied Linguistics) Paperback – May 14, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0194371469 ISBN-10: 0194371468

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Applied Linguistics
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 14, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0194371468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0194371469
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'What is original about his treatise is that it provides the first systematic examination of the enormous significance of language to most neo-colonial enterprises. It should be recommended to anyone convinced of the 'superiority' of the English language or of the necessity of its universal dissemination.' - New Internationalist (21/09/1995)

'This is an important, groundbreaking study of the political background and impact of the spread of English. Congratulations are due to Phillipson for having taken on this task ... Phillipson has tackled a topic of major proportion and his work shows his wide reading of a large number of interesting sources ... He has drawn attention dramatically to important issues that have so far been mainly ignored and that cry out for continued investigation, and his book should be required reading for all concerned with the development and implementation of language policy.' - Journal of Pragmatics (12/02/1996)

About the Author

Robert Phillipson is a Professor of English in the Copenhagen Business School. His main research interests include the role of English worldwide, language policy and multilingualism in the European Union. Robert has written and edited books on language policy, language learning, and language rights.

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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "daniel_sp" on July 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Phillipson's Linguistic Imperialism is an important book and I doubt that any serious discussion of English as a World Language should avoid a discussion of his work. Linguistic Imperialism raises the point (all too often disregarded) that English Language Teaching doesn't happen in thin air, that it is connected with politics and ecconomy.
Phillipson argues that the center (that is the English speaking countries of the West) have used English to supress the people of the former colonies. This phenomenon he refers to as "linguistic imperialism". He deals with 5 tenets,or rather fallacies, which have been used for such imperialistic purposes; the most important of these fallacies are that English is best taught monolingually (without using other languages) and that it is best taught by a native speaker.
While Phillipson raises many interesting points (the fallacies of ELT among them) his overall thesis has to be rejected on the following grounds (to name but a few):
on its in-built power asymmetry, that is that the devloping countries are seen as being incapable of independent decisions.
that fact that linguistic imperialism is not falsifiable: there is no scenario where Phillipson would admit that English DOES fulfill a useful role in a third world country.
Phillipson's left-wing terminology and tone: imperialism itself is a left-wing term.
a country's linguistic ecology is to complex to fit into Phillipson's neat "black and white" scenario.
Phillipon's book can thus be only a start for a discussion on global English. For further reading I recommend Kachru's "The Alchemy of English", Crystals "English as an International Language" (critical reading necessary) and Pennycook's "The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language."
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Hywel Evans on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
The good thing about this book is that it becomes clear that linguistic imperialism is really just a widespread (but not universal) shambles in English teaching. It also becomes clear that this shambles is the result of an unholy alliance between shabby EFL "professionals" and undeserving elites in certain countries where English is taught as a non-native language. It follows that effective reform of paranoid language policy in the relevant countries can deal with the problem of linguistic imperialism as defined.
The author has no need for preposterous "linguistic theories" of the kind that crop up in Pennycook's work, for example. We don't have to worry about the possibility that colonialism has somehow attached itself to the English language, for example. Nothing in Phillipson's book rules out straightforward reform of language policy.
Indeed, the strength of this book is the fact that it does not distract from the fact that the responsibility for reform lies with the policy-makers in the countries where these neo-colonialist relationships exist. Indeed, by pointing out the problem in unpretentious terms, the author is arguing that reform of language policy is the key to breaking the relationships which lie at the heart of the problem.
This is far superior to Pennycook's work, which focuses on the responsibility of the western teacher (who is expected to shoulder the white man's burden by being self-critical, while ignoring the malpractice going on around him).
Phillipson loses a star for not making it clear why theoretical linguists don't police the field better. We can guess that they have little to gain, and a lot to lose, by doing so, but this is left to the imagination.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jiun-Iung Lei on May 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a classic which has transformed the terrrain of ELT in its unique way and essential for any novice readers who are not familiar with such studies.
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