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Robert Phillipson: Linguistic imperialism. L’imperialismo linguistico continua. Sottotitoli

Robert Phillipson: Linguistic imperialism. L’imperialismo linguistico continua. Sottotitoli


Thank you and it’s a great pleasure to
be here, it’s wonderful that your association has translated my very long
book into Italian and has made it possible to to be with you today and
I would love to know… There’s going to be Italian on the screen and I’m going to speak English. I’m afraid I had eight years of Latin but none of Italian. So I’m going to speak my mother tongue,
which is English and Marco will add,
synthesize, summarize for people who do not understand English. Could I, could I, just before we begin How many people in the room understand everything I’ve just said? The vast majority, that’s that’s very good, I mean that’s helpful, at any rate, but the others have right, the others have rights as well, okay. Yeah, fine and, I mean, I was asked to speak about why and how the United Kingdom and
the USA decided to conquer the world linguistically and I think we should start with Tacitus who conquered my country, meaning England, and he wrote
that the first inhabitants of Britain, were “whether natives or immigrants it
remains obscure who they were,” “one must remember we” (you Romans) “are dealing with barbarians” (that’s me) and I don’t know that’s probably clear it’s
I mean I haven’t added anything else and and actually Tacitus had a very interesting
analysis of what happened when his uncle, in charge of the administration of England, wrote: “but Agricola trained the sons of the chiefs in the liberal arts.” “The result was that, in place of distaste for the Latin language, came a passion to command it.” “In the same way, our national dress came into favour and the toga was everywhere to be seen” “and so the Britons,” (the Britons who, of course, spoke a Celtish language, at that stage, meaning a language like Gaelic in Scotland or Welsh) “and so the Britons were gradually led on to the amenities that make vice agreable,” “arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets.” “They spoke of such novelties as ‘civilization’ when, really, they were only a feature of enslavement.” So what Tacitus is doing there is explaining the kind of colonized consciousness that there is among people who have assimilated the values of the colonizer, which is exactly what Gandhi is saying there about the way English leads to enslavement,
the slavery of the mind. But if we look, then, at what happened
in the United Kingdom, there was a law in 1536, the Act of Union with Wales, which, basically, subordinated the people and the languages of Welsh to the rights, laws, customs and speech of England. “Since the English, whether government officials, religious reformers or moralists,” “presume superior wisdom in matters associated with civility and politeness,” “it was thought prudent to ensure that a monoglot” (meaning monolingual) “Welsh people living in rude and dark corners of the land” “should become familiar with the language
and mores of the civilizing English world.” So there was a policy, even back in 1536, of colonizing Welsh people linguistically and I won’t read the next
paragraph, which has to do with what happened in Wales and Scotland and
Ireland, where there are differences in the effects of colonization there and
differences in the way the languages have survived. The language is much
stronger in Wales than it is in Scotland. And I think, if we look at the history of
colonization, it’s important to see the way Europeans took upon themselves the
right to colonize the whole world so that, when John Locke wrote about property, he basically put this, inspired by the Bible,
“God has commanded man (meaning people) to labour,” “he gave the use and title to the land to the industrious and rational.” And this means that the local people, the indigenous peoples of North America, in this case, they have failed to labour. And again I’m quoting here the text in italics: “They are rich in land and poor in all the
comforts of life and have not one hundredth part” “of the conveniences we enjoy and a king of a large and fruitful territory there” “feeds, lodges and is in clad and is clad”
(clothed, in other words) “worse than a day labourer in England.” So the justification for the oppression, extermination or assimilation of the local people was that this was in conflict with the principles of the Bible. So, this is in the bottom half the text, “In the beginning all the world was America”,
(the idea of America was ’empty space’) “and more so than it is now, for no
such things as money was anywhere known”, meaning that, basically, there was no
financial economy. “The fruits of labour can be converted into gold, silver or money, serving to legitimate” “disproportionate and unequal possession
of the earth, this inequality being” “tacitly but voluntary agreed on by society.” So differences in income, in property,
in wealth are justifiable if this is the result of people labouring and getting
into a money economy. And this means that the idea of ‘terra nullius’ was ‘unoccupied territory’ and this is the way the Europeans occupied America, North America and Latin America, and Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the world. So that in the terms of John Locke, a very influential British philosopher, 1698, this was a process of global americanization. And if we go then to what happened in schools,
we have here a philosopher and poet, Matthew Arnold, who was also the English inspector of schools, and he wrote the same kind
of thing as in the law of 1536: “Whatever encouragement individuals
may think it desirable to give” “to the preservation of the Welsh language, on grounds of philological or antiquarian interest,” “it must be the desire of a government to render its dominions, as far as possible, homogeneous” “and to break down barriers to the freest intercourse” “between the different parts of them.
Sooner or later the difference of language” “between Wales in England will, probably, be effaced” (eliminated), as it has happened with the difference of language
between Cornwall and the rest of England. So there you have government policy of enforced monolingualism in throughout England and Wales. And if we go to the United States, George Washington, back in the 1780s, was talking about the United States as a rising empire and in 1786 he wrote that “However unimportant America may be considered at present,” “there will assuredly come a day when this country will have some weight in the scale of empires.” So the Americans were not only
colonizing North America, they assumed that they had the right to
be an empire in the sense in which it was understood in Europe, where, already…
I mean, the British at that stage were very big in India and had started with the Dutch in South Africa. And this address, this speech by
Washington was read out in its entirety in Congress every February until the mid-1970s. So this says something about the way the internalization of American Empire has been part of the fundamental thinking of Americans. And this means that the second president of the United States, John Adams, he already said, in Congress, in the year 1780: “English is destined to be, in the next and succeeding centuries, more generally the language of the world,” “that Latin was in the last or French in the present age.” Well, you have the text on the screen. And this meant that in the British Empire, in India, we had a man who wrote
the policy for education in India, Macaulay, writing in 1835 that the function of
education in British India was “to produce a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, English in taste, opinion, in morals and in intellect.” and, of course, our intellect, our morals are superior to anyone else’s. This is the way I was brought up in England in the 1950s. Nobody told me, in school, in the 1950s, that the British Empire was ever going to change. So, basically what I’m saying, then, is that when it comes to language, we need to think of “global”, meaning “American”, and that global English, which a lot of people now talk about and write books about, it’s not a reality, it’s in fact… it’s a project, it’s it’s something that some forces in the world wish to bring about. And this is in harmony with the principle, which has been part of the rhetoric of global expansion in the United States, of destiny, a manifest God-given destiny, of Anglo-Saxon culture to spread around the world. And this was first articulated in 1830 and if you look at what Harry Truman, when devising what would happen after the end of fascism and Hitler and Mussolini had been defeated, “The whole world should adopt the American system,” “the American system can survive, in America, only if it becomes a world system.” I won’t go into this but there are very good books now on the role of university people, academics, in legitimating globalization and this is a fascinating book, which you have on the top of the screen there, describing the way the American academic
world was incorporated into this global project. And if you go to the New American Century, you can go to their website, you have the project of people like Cheney, former vice president, Wolfowitz of the World Bank, Rumsfeld the Pentagon Minister. Their doctrine was made explicit long before 911. Their doctrine was public on their website and this was analyzed in a Canadian magazine called Harper’s Magazine. “The plan is for the United States to rule the world,” “the overt theme is unilateralism but it is
ultimately a story of domination,” “it calls for the United States to maintain its
overwhelming military superiority” “and prevent new rivals”
(meaning the Chinese or the Arabs) “from rising up to challenge it on the world stage.” “It calls for dominion over friends,”
(countries like Italy, Poland) “and enemies alike.” “It says not that the United States must
be more powerful or most powerful” “but it must be absolutely powerful.” So my feeling about the language policy, then, is that there has been a continuous expansion of English. There has been investment in the linguistic capital and I’m using concepts from Pierre Bourdieu on capital, cultural capital, linguistic capital, there’s been a lot of investment in it, in the United States itself and America and… the United States is still a linguistically extremely diverse country, with the indigenous peoples and the immigrants in the country itself, it’s not a monolingual country, far from it, investment in linguistic capital in the British dominions, dominions meaning Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on, and the colonies, meaning India, Kenya,
Nigeria and so on, and massively in post-1945 Europe, including in the European Union, ensuring that global élites all speak English. Of course it’s not true that all of them do but this is the project. And I think that the next question on the bottom of the screen now is what Pagano was saying right at the beginning, what What does this mean for Italy? meaning: Does English linguistic capital accumulation, does more of the accumulation of linguistic capital in English necessarily mean the dispossession of
the linguistic capital of the Italians, the French, the Germans
and other groups? I ask the question and I think that it’s up to you people in your country to analyze whether this is the case or is not,
it’s a very open question. And there are many people in the academic world, Could I ask how many people here are university lecturers, professors and any university staff? They should be here but they aren’t. They should be here but they aren’t. Because my example here is that there are many academics, especially from the United States
and the United Kingdom, who, basically, regard the expansion of English, as as you see on the on the screen, the result of the coincidence of accidental forces. Meaning… this is deeply irresponsible on the part of, in this case, an American academic. And it’s the same in the United Kingdom, with David Crystal who’s a very influential writer, he has a mass readership, again, it’s the same, it’s the same argument.
And these linguists think they are being non- or a-political, whereas
in fact, of course, they are very political. And this means that, so far as I’m concerned, my analysis is that global English is in fact a myth, a normative project, it’s a project which is trying to make norms, and it’s spoken by an élite community and this again is a technical argument from the social sciences, it’s the way that élites imagine a particular cultural or political identity. And here’s a wonderful example of the way ‘assistance, aid’ to post-communist Europe took place, because you have here an American woman, Sandra McKay, who was appointed by the United Nations, UNO, ONU, on a project to develop the use of Latvian among Latvian residents in all domains
of society and, if you remember, the Russian speakers in Latvia, same as in
Estonia, were statistically very numerous when the communist world changed. And what the Estonians and Latvians wanted to do was to make sure that their language, which was suppressed by soviet communism, should be a unifying language
for everyone resident in the country. So what the American specialist advised, on behalf of the United Nations, was “English will provide a natural medium in which Latvians and Russians can work” “to establish a new independent Latvia.” And also she wrote, in the same way, “English is opening Latvia to trade and commerce with the West” and she names, particularly, McDonald’s and television films. So you there have the integration of a language argument, a normative project for English, with commercial interests. So, to me, this means that this is the gospel of corporate consumerism through the medium of English, which you have in pink on the screen. So, what’s happening in the European Union in particular? How is Europe being unified? which I think mister Pagano has already mentioned. What’s taking place in the institutions of the European Union? meaning the Parliament, the Commission, the Council of Ministers and so on. Well, you have the American ambassador
in Denmark saying: “The most serious problem for the European Union is it has so many languages,” “this preventing real integration and development of the Union.” meaning: the Americans want English to replace Italian and French and Spanish and all of those other unimportant languages. And it’s the same with the British Council, meaning representing British government interests, he is quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and you have it on the screen, “English should be the sole official language of the European Union.” He probably meant the sole working language but it’s it’s scandalous that an organization which is supposed to understand languages, they promote English, can make such an incredibly stupid proposal. And here we have the thing that you have in Italian in this wonderful new translation of my book quoting Winston Churchill and you’ve
already had it quoted to you but … Well, you have both of those texts there.
Clearly, Winston Churchill understood the power had shifted from
the British Empire to the American Empire and that the nature of control was changing, control was changing much more to control of the mind instead of territories. And we all know, in this country that the European Union started
with the Treaty of Rome in 1958, true? When did the idea for the European Union, European Economic Community, which it was called earlier, when did that all start? Well, what you have on the screen is an analysis which basically says that the process of European integration might never have come about had it not been imposed on Europe by the Americans and another one, you have a book there writing about Eisenhower, Kennedy and the United States
of Europe so that, in fact, planning for the common market of the European Union
started in the 1940s during the Second World War in American think tanks and people like Jean Monnet, one of the main founders of the idea of European integration, spent the war in the United States and he was in very close contact with the political and corporate élite in the United States. And, of course, I’m not saying that this is exclusively a negative project, European integration, far from it. There are obviously positive features to do with stopping the Europeans from fighting each other for centuries, but on the other hand, the material, the corporate, the economic side of it has been planned long before the Treaty of Rome. I wonder how many of you know, in fact, that there is a summit meeting, between the European Union and the
United States, every year, once a year and that this has planned economic and
political and foreign policy integration between the policies of the United
States and the policies of the European Union and I wonder how many citizens in
the European Union know that this actually takes place. Probably very very few actually realize that this is happening. Okay. This means that, if one wishes to analyze language policy in a theoretically explicit way, I think it’s helpful to look on everything I’ve been saying so far as instances of linguistic imperialism and then one can identify the points you have there, from from one to ten, on the screen in front of you, which basically show in what way language policy integrates with culture, education, media, communication,
economy, politics, and military and so on and this is fundamentally a question of
injustice, it’s to do with exploitation, with inequality between speakers of
different languages and hierarchy. It’s a structural thing, meaning more material resources and more investment in infrastructure and more investment in linguistic capital goes into some languages rather than others, nationally and internationally. It’s also a question of ideology, of beliefs, of attitudes, of imagery, and it’s a hegemonic process in the sense of Gramsci. It’s very much something which, basically, we are conditioned into believing is normal and natural and this is the way things are, I mean, this is something that has to be, but, fundamentally, as I said earlier, this is a question of unequal rights for
speakers of different languages. And when it comes to education systems, schools and universities, the issue then is whether the learning of foreign
languages and, in this case, English is consolidating one or more languages at
the expense of others, whether it is subtractive or whether it is in fact
additive, whether you’re expanding your linguistic repertoire,
whether you’re in fact reducing it, because, typically in colonies, English expanded at the expense of African languages or Indian languages. And I can see this is a form of linguicism which is like sexism and racism, it’s a question of hierarchies, with some being given privileges and the rest being held down. It’s complicated, it’s a question of both supply and demand and it will always be contested and resisted so all of these dimensions are what academics,
like myself, need to bring into our analysis of linguistic imperialism. And if you think of examples, you have the way regional languages have been suppressed, like the Welsh in Wales and the Kurds, the Kurdish people
in Turkey, at this moment, and in Iran now and in Syria at the moment, but not the
Kurds in Iraq because they have regional autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan but, I mean,
until this point the Kurdish language, languages, have been suppressed. It’s the same in colonial education, where you have promoted European
languages and neglected local languages, African, Indian languages and so on. The World Bank, the British Council, the Francophonie body tend to promote European languages, only, in post-colonial countries, third-world countries. Another feature, then, is that Western models of education are regarded as being universally relevant, as being culturally neutral, therefore it is
European models which should be exported to China, to the Arab world, throughout the world. Another dimension of this, of course, is the way the argumentation for English stresses that English is a lingua franca and the implication of that is is a lingua franca, well, it’s people who are on the basis of equality, which, in my opinion, is fraudulent because, especially for me, I can use English with great simplicity, if you want to ask questions, I hope you’ll debate things in a moment, I’m afraid I won’t understand everything
in your Italian, we have a wonderful interpreter here and he’s he’s probably doing incredibly well because he’s actually translated 240 pages about all
of these topics, so I’m very impressed. I’m very impressed by what Marco is
doing as an interpreter as well as a translator but, fundamentally, there is an unequal situation unless for you, some of you, English is your main working language, it may be, probably not though in this context. But I mean, basically, lingua franca often has an ideal of equality whereas, in fact, it’s it’s unequal. And, of course, other things are… there are market forces which determine the hierarchies of EU languages. French used to be the biggest
language at the top of the pyramid and English has gradually climbed up to
suppress French as well as Italian and all the other languages and one of the
ironies is that I come from England which is famous for being a monolingual
country, very few people speak foreign languages
where I come from, but we’re the big experts
on how people should learn English, it’s big business for the British economy. So, if you look at the annual report of the British Council in 1960, “Teaching the world English may appear not unlike an extension of the task which America faced in establishing English as a common
national language among its own immigrant population” and as you know, immigrant populations in the United States keep the language for about one
generation, perhaps two, but they then become monolingual English speakers, so the idea then is to do the same worldwide, subtractive language learning. And, in addition to the integration of the European economy as being planned in the 1940s, there was also a plan written in 1941, in a book called “The diffusion of English culture outside England; a problem of post-war reconstruction”, which basically wrote a policy document for “a new career service which was needed to lay the” “foundations of a world language and culture” “based on our own”, (meaning based on the British language and culture) “an army of linguistic missionaries, a central office in London from which
teachers radiate all over the world” and I have to admit that I was commissioned
into this army at the age of 22 as soon as I left university, as a missionary of
global English. I have become more radical since then. Okay. And, in fact, if you look
at the American influence worldwide, American global military and technological dominance, this, according to the director of the Centre for
applied linguistics in Washington DC, was greatly abetted by the expenditure of
large amounts of government and private foundation funds in the period 1950 to 1970, perhaps the most ever spent in history, in support of the propagation of a language. And this means that the expansion of English has not been left to chance, it has been invested in, there has been investment in the linguistic
capital of English. And you can see this if you look at my earlier book called Linguistic imperialism, where I described the role of the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, in promoting English worldwide. And there are very definite continuities
between the way Macaulay, in 1835, was promoting English and people like me are doing it as well, like David Gradall. And if you look at the way David Gradall, in a book called “English next India”, analyzes what India needs, he fundamentally claims
that the United Kingdom, “British English language teaching knows how to
solve the language learning problems of India.” He describes English not as a school subject but as a basic skill, like computer skills or numeracy and he has incorrect information about
the expansion of English in Europe. For instance, he writes that universities are replacing their languages by English, in higher education. And this is not happening, in fact, so I mean, he’s incorrectly informing India
about what’s happening in Europe at the moment and he’s also claiming that there
is one learning system, one paradigm which is globally canonized, a monolingual paradigm in English learning. So he’s basically using the same
arguments in the year 2010 as were used by the colonialists in 1835. I think I’ll jump over the examples because they’re too detailed but I have
very clear analysis which shows that these big generalizations are in fact quite valid. And then I’ll jump to this one where you can basically see if the British Council wants: English to be present now (in the italic words there) in
every classroom, every office and every home, for the 1 billion 300 million people who live in India, which I think is is is is sick, basically. And, clearly, this is partly financially motivated because when the plan was already being
discussed the time Gordon Brown as Prime Minister went to China and India, as soon
as he became Prime Minister, the newspaper the Sun, owned by Rupert
Murdoch, the biggest circulation of newspapers in the whole of the United Kingdom, said basically “Gordon Brown will pledge the export of 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,” “it could add a staggering 50 billion pounds a year to the UK economy by 2010.” I have a lot of examples about what’s happening in the European Union situation but I don’t think I should talk at this, about there’s any longer. I can answer questions on that. I would prefer really to stop at this point and to discuss with other people, everyone here, things that you think are
important to raise. So, at this point, I think I’ll break off the paper and
and would be happy to answer questions, when you have some.

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