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English as a World Language

English as a World Language

Estimating the numbers of English speakers in the world is a fraught activity, raising questions such as, what counts as English? And what counts as a speaker? However, no matter which statistical authority is cited to count the number of English speakers -- and the numbers range from 765 million to 1.5 billion -- it is evident to all in recent years that English has rapidly expanded, and is set to continue, at least for the foreseeable future, in being one of the dominant languages of the world. But this dominant position itself has been variously understood as something to be critiqued and something to be praised; it has been argued, for example, to be a form of linguistic imperialism, and at other times, a form of necessary international communication in the age of globalization. This situation raises many other questions, such as how to accommodate the fact that English is now not only a multinational language, but also an international language, a contact language, and a world language.

The rise of English is not only a matter for linguists. It involves a host of other disciplines and raises other pressing questions.  This working group brings together an interdisciplinary set of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty who are currently researching topics related to English as a world language. Together we will read assigned scholarly texts drawn from a range of disciplinary perspectives that address critical issues pertaining to English as a world language.  We also plan two one-day workshops, the first featuring a guest speaker, and the second to discuss our own work in progress.

LEAD:
Oisin Keohane,  Postdoctoral Fellow, Jackman Humanities Institute and Instructor, Philosophy   

FACULTY
Carol Percy, English
Stanka Radovic, UTM English & Drama
Georgia Wilder, Instructor, English

(Other Universities)
Mary Catherine Davidson, English, York University
Eve Haque, Linguistics, York University  

GRADUATE STUDENTS
James Corcoran, OISE
In Chull Jang, OISE
Kate Sedon, Comparative Literature
Stephanie Southmayd, English
Karen Yaworski, Comparative Literature

(Other Universities)
Bill Cook, Linguistics, York University
Jonathan Luke, Linguistics, York University
Selena Phillips-Boyle, Linguistics, York University


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