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LINGUA NULLIUS:

INDIA CHASES LANGUAGE OF SUCCESS

Jeppe Blumensaat Rasmussen

LINGUA NULLIUS: INDIA CHASES LANGUAGE OF SUCCESS Jeppe Blumensaat Rasmussen
LINGUA NULLIUS: INDIA CHASES LANGUAGE OF SUCCESS Jeppe Blumensaat Rasmussen

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. 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, bilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language, and English as a global business lingua franca. On the basis of your review of relevant theory, you should reflect over what you would find a sound (socially, politically and culturally) linguistic future for India.

This assignment take its starting point in David Graddol’s (of the British Council) article in the Guardian “India chases language of success”. 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. This paper has been very much inspired by the guest lecture given by Robert Philllipson and Tove Skuttnab-Kangas given October 23, 2012, as a part of the lecture series. 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”, adding yet a more specific concept of lingua nullius created out of the two fromer. Graddol’s analysis will be compared with Phillipson’s critique, 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, Learning through English (Ann Hewings) to answer the second

part. Graddol’s article in the Guardian is used as an introduction for the future role of English in India. The article argues that English is a key ingredient for India’s future development, allowing the country

further progress. The title of the article itself implies that English is the language of success, and stresses in the first paragraph that higher proficiency of English will serve as beneficial for all of society namely

business, government and millions of ordinary people”. 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. It points to the fact that India has an enormous generation passing through the world’s largest educational system. But who should this educational system serve? The article states that the private sectors demand for sufficient English speakers is not fulfilled, since graduates are not “employable” according to Nasscom. At the same time the article recognizes that 93% of the jobs in India stems from the "unorganised" sector. The article suggests that English will help even “maids, drivers and even a street beggar”, thereby implying that English is for everyone, and can increase social mobility. The way of learning should not be through a “mix of grammar and literature that has traditionally been taught in Indian classrooms”, implicit implying that education should take a more business oriented approach, instead of linguistic and cultural educational. The article continues taking up the struggle of multinational supermarket chains getting into the Indian market, where it currently cannot enter due to protectionist laws to protect the family-run business’. Next up in the article Graddol tries to analyse what is preventing English to be improved in the educational system of India, and in my view he hits bottom rock. Graddol argues that:

From an educational perspective, it is easy to find reasons for not investing in English. It is hugely expensive. It also distracts from developing more basic needs in education: drinking water and toilets in schools, teachers who actually turn up and spend their time wisely in classrooms, improving enrolment and access to secondary schools, and extending education in a child's first language.

In my point of view is he using a colonial discourse, 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. The leaves the reader with a very disturb view of the Indian educational system and makes it look very unserious. 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. In some states, 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, which is a classical fallacy in foreign language learning.

Thereis lack of evidence that children learn a language better by being introduced to it in an early stage in the education system, if the child is not safe in its mother tongue yet, but this discussion will return

later in the paper, when Phillipson’s critique of Graddol will be applied. Graddol does not stop his imperialistic discourse here, he follows up by stating that “the English

language washes even into rural backwaters. 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.” 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. This will be returned to later in the paper. 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"”. Graddol uses this final point to draw the conclusion that Success and English are now tied together in the popular imagination across India.” This is a rather interesting conclusion to put it simple. According to Graddol the masses have the motivation for learning English, but it is simply due to lack of government support that these demands are not fulfilled. Regarding, 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, and the need to include English teaching as a key component. However, there is no sign yet of much happening on the ground, not least of where the job opportunities will be.

So apparently, the Government’s educational system is not serving the Indian populations wishes very well. Whether this is ‘just’ imperial discourse or the population vision of using English as the tool of social mobility is hard to tell.

I cannot deliver an answer but I will try to look at the Graddol’s ideas and discourse through the lens of

linguistic imperialism, to try to discover whether Graddol is serving other purposes than the idealistic idea of helping the Indian people out of their poverty. The first part of the analysis by default will be, who is Daivd Graddol, and who is this British Council. 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.

Who is the Author?

David Graddol established himself with the book “The future of English” in 1997, published by the British Council, in which he tries to predict the future development of English as a world language. In 2006 he

wrote “English Next” published by the British Council as well. Lastly he has published a more specific edition of the English Next namely the Indian one being “English Next india” 2010, British Council (Phillipson, p. 3). Furthermore, it is pretty valuable to add that he is the editor of “English Today: The

International Review of the English Language”, where he represents The English Company (UK) Ltd 1 . As this suggests, Graddol is very interested in the future of English, especially as a global language, and additionally he may be considered as a key author of the British Council, 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. We call this work cultural relations.2 This is done through 200 offices in more than 100 countries around the world. 3 This makes the British Council apart of an often shadowed industry, namely and industry of English, a billion dollar business. Gray states (p. 141) that the British Council is a unique semi-state body that functions as a business, founded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but answers to the UK Parliament. It is not some kind of small business, alone in 2010 it had a turnover of £705 Million, working with the vision of promoting English globally. According to Phillipson (p. 1) BC was established in 1935 as a product of British oil companies with interests in the Middle East, and as a reaction to the successful rival propaganda activities by fascist countries. Since then, UK and USA have worked intensively on promoting the English language worldwide (Phillipson,p. 2). 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, fortunately for the progress of mankind, happen to speak the same language and very

largely think the same thoughts.” 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. The empires of the future are the empires of the

mind. Winston Churchill 1 (Phillipson, Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire, p. 2)

This idea of colonizing the mind, was supported across the Atlantic by President Truman (1947) that

stated: “The whole world should adopt the American system. The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system(Phillipson, Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire, p. 7).

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, but on the other hand is built on a different set of motivations and core values. As Churchill stated the empire of the future is the empire of the mind, and it will be colonized through the medium of English language. This was supported by Truman’s statement, that the only way for the American system to survive would be to globalize it. Clearly here we see the clash between English being the language of social mobility as argued by Graddol and the British Council itself, and on the other hand English being the first language of capitalism, by showing quotes of world domination by Churchill and Truman. But surprisingly enough Truman and Churchill were not the first ones to present these values of controlling people through the medium of the mind. In the next section I will deal with the History of English in India.

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, to exactly 1835 and Thomas Babington Macaulay (1 st Baron Macaulay of India). He analyzed the weapon of English to function like this:

I feel with them that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.

What Macaulay tried to do was to create one class that could function as officials representing the British taste, opinion etc. and thereby mind or more accurately mindset. It was the elites job to pull India's masses into the modern world. 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. The Indian educational system is still closely geared to the British model, and Indian society remains elitist (Heimsath, p, 366). This technique of colonizing the people through the language by and elite group was later coined Macaulayism. According to Phillipson, does Svati Joshi (Rethinking English. Essays in Literature, Language, History, p. 18) note that Macaulay’s “political foresight lay in investing the indigenous cultural and political institutions with western liberal knowledge, a form of dominance far more powerful and permanent than any direct form of government” (Phillipson, p. 8). One argument that was presented by Macaulay as well was that the quality of English literature was far better than Indian or Arabic (Johnson, 2012, p. 186)

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. The foundation that Macaulay laid of education has enslaved us’ (Phillipson, p. 8). “English has usurped the dearest place in our hearts and dethroned our mother tongues” (1921), stated Gandhi in the case of prioritizing English over mother tongue, in todays world this would conflict with the concept of Linguistic Human Rights

(Seargeant, 2012, p. 27).

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. We

have borrowed the superficial features of the Western universities, and flattered ourselves that we have founded living universities here. Do they reflect or respond to the needs of the masses?” (1942). 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. 7). 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

...

the

masses

...

The

result has been disastrous. We are too

near our times correctly to measure the disservice caused to India by the neglect of its own

languages.' (Aafreedi, 2010)

The quote from Gandhi states the direct opposite of Graddol’s article, but obviously it should be seen in

the context of India being geographically decolonized. In the days of the two last quotes of Gandhi was under the ‘Quit India’ campaign. As Gandhi points to, the English language can have serious impact on neglecting other languages. Tove Skuttnab-Kangas has coined this tendency as linguistic genocide (linguicide) with English being a killer language (Seargeant, 2012, p. 11). Additionally, it is worth to bring in Bourdieu, since we have different classes being exposed and have different knowledge of English (level). This is often based on social conditions and is known as linguistic capital (Seargeant, 2012, p.20) What has been described above actually resides a theory which I am going to deal with in the next section.

Linguistic imperialism

Linguistic imperialism, or language imperialism, is a linguistics concept that "involves the transfer of a dominant language to other people". The transfer is essentially a demonstration of powertraditionally, military power but also, in the modern world, economic powerand aspects of the dominant culture are usually transferred along with the language. Linguistic imperialism is often seen in the context of cultural imperialism.

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.e. a lingua nullius. The consolidation of a single language at the expense of others follows the same logic as seeing colonized territory as terra nullius. The marketing of English for all purposes and all people treats the language as a lingua nullius. Those who consider English as universally valid, including the current

applied linguistic vogue for analysing English as a ‘Lingua Franca’, see English as a lingua nullius detached

from the forces behind its expansion (Phillipson, p. 13).

Europe now shares many language policy issues with India including managing the emergence of English as a language of business and lingua franca (Graddol, 2010, p. 58).

terra nullius lingua franca

lingua economica? corporate neoliberalism = americanisation

• lingua emotiva? Hollywood, music • lingua cultura? a subject in general education • lingua bellica? Afghanistan, Iraq, arms trade, globalisation of NATO • lingua academica? publications, conferences, medium for content learning • lingua tyrannosaura? subtractive in specific domains

qoutes from text:

India chases language of success

For business, government and millions of ordinary people, proficiency in English has come to be seen as a key to prosperity, but evidence that this hope will be fulfilled is lacking.

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, 2010, p. ) 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.

Despite its slightly smaller total population, India has 50% more children than China making the Indian education system the largest in the world (Graddol, 2010 p. 30).

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, and the rate of bilingualism was growing at an average rate of 1% every three years. That rate had only slightly slowed according to the 2001 data, published in late 2009, which indicated that a quarter of the Indian population claimed to know a second language, and 8.5% a third

(Graddol, 2010 p. 56).

English has become a more important part of Indian education during the last decade. It is now introduced into schools at an earlier age and more children are learning through the medium of English (Graddol, 2010, p. 86)

India is also unusual in having built its recent economic growth on human capital, rather than natural resources (e.g. oil) or low-cost labour (manufactured exports) (Graddol, 2010, p. 112).

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, p. 1)

It relates these historical factors to the false notion that English serves all equally well in the modern world (Phillipson, p. 1)

Graddol collected and processed a large amount of information about Indian society and the economic, linguistic and educational problems and challenges it faces. Official governmental studies are cited, and a 2009 World Bank report. Big shots from the Indian commercial world provided input on what they believe is needed in Indian education. The complexity of the issues is presented lucidly. Many observations are valid and frank, and stress inequalities in India, the inefficiencies for many children of what is supposed to be education, and the wish of all classes and castes to attain the benefits that proficiency in English offers. However, Indian scholars figure only very selectively, and their views are generally not cited explicitly. The report is not an academic study with exploration of the substantial literature on language and educational policy. What is drawn on and presented is glimpses of the issues, inevitably in a selective fashion (Phillipson, p. 3).

The unstated agenda is to strengthen the British English Language Teaching (ELT) industry. In surveys of

English across the globe in Graddol’s earlier reports, also commissioned and published by the British

Council, The future of English (1997), and English Next (2006), the connection between a multi-faceted analysis and British ELT was made openly: the purpose was to equip the British ELT establishment (universities, publishers, language schools, consortia exporting language teachers and advisers, etc.) to adjust to a changing world and maintain the position of the billion-pound industry. The assumption in the Indian report, completely covert, is that the UK has the expertise to solve India’s English-learning educational problems. This assumption which I challenge - is subtly packaged, as no explicit advice is forwarded in the report. It is presented as a position paper for debate and follow-up (Phillipson, p. 3).

The British Council claims to be independent. Its Annual Report for 2009-2010 proclaims that it is ‘the UK’s international organization for cultural and educational relations’, but it has a turnover £705 million,

with its business operations (primarily teaching English and running examinations) generating ‘£2.50 for every £1 of public money received’. A body that is ‘UK’s second biggest charity’ has as a primary purpose to ‘support the English language industry, worth £3-4 billion a year’. The organization’s brand and self- promotion are riddled with such contradictions.

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, see Phillipson 1992, 300-301) is simply untrue (Phillipson, p. 8).

the British Council bombastically proclaims that English is needed for success in the global economy, in Indian education, and in every Indian home (Phillipson, p. 8)

The British tabloid The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch, proclaimed on 18 January 2008, 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. It

'The English language, like football and other sports, began here and has spread to every corner of the

globe

...

English

is much more than a language: it is a bridge across borders and cultures, a source of unity

in a rapidly changing world

English

does not make us all the same - nor should it, for we honour who

... we distinctly are. But it makes it possible for us to speak to each other, to better understand each other.

And so it is a powerful force not just for economics, business and trade, but for mutual respect and progress.' Gordon Brown (British Council, 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, p. 10).

five professional fallacies: the monolingual fallacy, the native speaker fallacy, the early start fallacy, the maximum exposure fallacy, and the subtractive fallacy. These are still central to the US-UK ‘English Language Teaching’ business, and to most World Bank policies for post-colonial education (Phillipson, p.

11).

This is a prescription for global linguistic apartheid, an even more exclusive position than Macaulay’s (Phillipson, p. 12).

Phillipson characterize Graddol as Linguistic neoimperialism The famous African author Ngugi wa Thiong'o, author of Decolonising the Mind 1986, 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, technology, health, medicine, business, finance and other skills of survival because all these are stored in foreign-language granaries (Thiong'o, 1997).

Remember, as Ngugi wa Thiong'o rightly sees it in Decolonising the mind, there can be no democracy where a whole people have been denied the use of their languages, where they have been turned strangers in their own country (1998: 90,92).

Bibliography

Aafreedi, D. N. (2010, February 7). The Marginalisation of Mother Tongues and the Linguistic Apartheid in India . Retrieved from Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi Social Activism:

http://openspacelucknow.blogspot.dk/2010/02/marginalisation-of-mother-tongues-and.html

British Council. (2008, January). The world's language: New website to boost English language skills. Retrieved from British Council: http://www.britishcouncil.org/home-about-us-world-of- difference-india-english-language-teaching.htm

British Council. (n.d.). About the British Council. Retrieved from The British Council:

http://www.britishcouncil.org/about Graddol, D. (2010). English Next India: The Future of English in India. British Council.

Macaulay, T. B. (n.d.). Minute by the Hon'ble T. B. Macaulay, dated the 2nd February from Columbia University:

1835. .

Retrieved

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00generallinks/macaulay/txt_minute_educatio

n_1835.html

Phillipson, R. (n.d.). Additive university multilingualism in English dominant empire: the language policy challenges. In G. Ziegler, Professionalising multilingualism in higher education. Bern/Frankfurt:

Peter Lang.

Phillipson, R. (n.d.). Macaulay alive and kicking: How linguistic imperialism continues. In G. A. Rao, Foreign languages in India: Towards a glocal world. Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Thiong'o, N. w. (1997, December 21). The role of colonial language in creating the image of a savage continent. Retrieved from Trinicenter:

http://www.trinicenter.com/historicalviews/language.htm

Enclosure

Definition from Phillipson:

Linguistic imperialism has these defining features (Phillipson 1992, 2009):

• it is a form of linguicism, a favouring of one language over others in ways that parallel societal

structuring through racism, sexism and class: linguicism also serves to privilege users of the standard forms of the dominant language, those with convertible linguistic capital.

• it is structural: more material resources and infrastructure are accorded to the dominant language

than to others

• it is ideological: beliefs, attitudes, and imagery glorify the dominant language, stigmatize others, and rationalise the linguistic hierarchy

• the dominance is hegemonic, it is internalised and naturalised as being ‘normal’ • linguistic

imperialism interlocks with a structure of imperialism in culture, education, the media, communication, the economy, politics, and military activities

• in essence it is about exploitation, injustice, inequality, 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, 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.