`A very welcome and much-needed broadening of current theoretical perspectives' - Professor Norman Fairclough This book offers a major reappraisal of the role of language in the social world. Focusing on three main areas - the global spread of English; Standard English; and language and sexism - The Politics of English: examines World English in relation to international capitalism and colonialism; analyzes the ideological underpinnings of the debate about Standard English; and locates sexism in language as arising from social relations. Locating itself in the classical Marxist tradition, this book shows how language is both shaped by, and contributes to social life.
Where people in England and America say slums,
Trinidadians say barrackyards. Probably the word
is a relic of the days when England relied as much
on garrisons of soldiers as on her fleet to protect
her valuable sugar-producing colonies. (C.L.R. James, Triumph)
In the 1990s, many have come to question the wisdom of theories about language which cut language loose from the world. It was a sure sign that postmodernist relativism had begun to run its course when Jacques Derrida, doyen of deconstructionism, revised his stance towards Marx. He told us that the spectre of Marx (or ‘spectres’, in a characteristic hedge) was still with us. ‘Deconstruction’ needed a certain spirit of Marxism ‘so as not to flee political responsibility’ (Derrida 1994). The point, amid the gruelling cruelties of ...