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Involuntary AssociationsPostcolonial Studies and World Englishes$

David Huddart

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380253

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380253.001.0001

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English in the Conversation of Mankind: World Englishes and Global Citizenship

English in the Conversation of Mankind: World Englishes and Global Citizenship

(p.52) Chapter 3 English in the Conversation of Mankind: World Englishes and Global Citizenship
Involuntary Associations

David Huddart

Liverpool University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Exploring different understandings of globalization, this chapter makes a case for World Englishes as supplementary languages of global citizenship. Drawing on examples such as internationalized universities, the European Union, and Esperanto, the chapter considers the ways in which such a language (or series of languages) of global citizenship would have to be an instance that would shadow other formal languages, just as global citizenship shadows formal citizenship. In considering this possibility, the chapter engages with the obvious dangers posed by a global English, a singular language that might dominate global communication in the name of specific cultural, political, and economic interests.

Keywords:   Global citizenship, Globalization, Cosmopolitanism, Communication

English allows us to advance toward global exchange and solidarity among the institutions of civil society, extending bonds between citizens far and wide across the globe. For this reason, considering English as an international language can also bring a sense of possibility in terms of strengthening what might be called ‘planetary citizenship’, i.e. alliances among citizens with a universalist intent.

Telma Gimenez, ‘ETS and ELT: Teaching a World Language’


Scanning the shelves in one of Shanghai’s bookshops reveals that there is not only a clear appetite in China for English language materials but also, and unsurprisingly, a well-developed local industry in textbooks for learning English. Many textbook covers currently bear the charismatic face of Barack Obama, as we are invited to buy selections of his interviews, TV debates, and best speeches (‘Wisdom on the tongue’, ‘Yes, you can!’), and through these examples learn how to speak like Obama himself. A very particular model of communication seems to have made its way to centre stage under globalization, and it is one that, while not necessarily requiring the English language, is certainly associated with English, whether British or more likely American. Obama appears to be the very best example of this model of communication and, if China is any indication, this communicative model is not necessarily felt to be linguistically imperialist. Is it possible, speaking idealistically, for all our diverse voices to conduct our global conversation in English? Michael Oakeshott (1962) famously argued for the role of poetry in ‘the conversation of mankind’, a conversation that was very much not an argument with a sense (p.53) of directedness, expected resolution, or feared assimilation of one voice to another. Of course, from the perspective of critics of linguistic imperialism, English is without question an assimilative force, one that has been used to win arguments, arguments that were initially framed in terms beneficial to Anglo-American centres. Indeed, Oakeshott stresses the need for a ‘diversity of voices’, which in one sense is lost under the sway of English’s hegemony. Yet there are other ways of understanding the spread of English, as we have already considered. This chapter will discuss the connection between English and global citizenship through considering shifts in scale brought about by globalization, different models of global citizenship, English’s role in global institutions, cosmopolitanism, and alternatives to English. Through all of these sections runs the necessary shift in perspective from English to Englishes, a shift that enables a potentially positive connection to be made between English and global citizenship, even as the baleful influence of English’s spread must also be acknowledged. There is the possibility or the coexistence of both leap and fall, with hard cultural and economic reality constantly shadowing the more optimistic rhetoric about English as a medium of global communication (with that hard reality invading the optimism through the very term ‘communication’). Indeed, the other extreme side of Obama’s current popularity in English learning materials in China is someone such as Crazy English’s Li Yang, a man for whom English learning is a patriotic duty (see Bolton 2003; Gao 2012). Communication would then be very much a question of winning arguments, a diversity of voices something that should ultimately pay its respects to authority.

In fact, this coexistence of leap and fall can immediately be found in then presidential candidate Obama’s invocation of global citizenship in a speech delivered in Berlin in July 2008. This speech is an excellent place to begin this chapter’s exploration of connections between English and global citizenship; indeed, Robert McCrum (2010) also uses this speech as part of his discussion of ‘globish’, although he discusses the speech uncritically. Obama suggests that, despite differences between America and Europe, ‘the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. […] Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity’ (2008). Through his appeal to the ideal of global citizenship, and describing himself as a fellow citizen of the world, Obama recalls the shared histories of Europe and the US over the course of the twentieth century. Speaking in English, naturally (but given the speech’s venue, not inevitably, and so not in fact naturally at all), Obama implicitly grants that the differences between the two are very much a case of the narcissism of minor differences. That English itself is both a cause for controversy and a part of everyday working life both in Brussels and more generally across Europe (despite the UK’s vocal if only apparent problems with the continent), matches the sense that Obama is addressing not ‘those left behind in a globalized world’ (whether in Burma, Iran, Zimbabwe, or Darfur) but is instead assuming a citizenship shared with those in Europe, one to (p.54) which others ought to aspire (and indeed many such others do have those aspirations). Later I will return to the question of Europe’s relationship with the English language, partly as a way of thinking about regional citizenships, and partly as an example of practical engagement with English in terms of governance. But, of course, subject position frames debates such as these in diverse ways, and it is important to recall that even the English-speaking global elite is not quite as homogeneous as it may seem. That being said, there are surprising aspects to the debates considered in this chapter, and not all the surprises are directly or solely relevant to that elite. Even acting with high-handed indifference to the fate of hundreds of millions, the English-speaking elite is not the only group of English speakers out there, and we would best begin by recalibrating our expectations regarding connections between the language and the world econocultural system (see Brutt-Griffler 2002, 110). That recalibration is partly a question of scale, as this chapter now considers.

Re-scaling English

Writing of the challenges facing democratic thought under globalization, David Held (2010) describes today’s world as made up of overlapping communities of fate. In this situation, sometimes understood as a new state of affairs and sometimes as an extension or intensification of earlier networked cultures, there is a need for new models of governance and citizenship. Much discussion of this need has advanced the case for different versions of global citizenship, usually not as a replacement for but instead as a supplement to national citizenship. Language enters these discussions in various ways, for example in relation to practical governance, or alternatively the imagination necessary for transnational empathy. Language is also, in postcolonial studies, a key aspect of discussion of nationalism, as in the idea of imagined communities. Such communities have been extended if not of course undermined, and the idea of global citizenship is partly one of a transnational imagined community. If English is the language of globalization, this association clearly bears on the nature of the global citizenship we have and the citizenship we might desire to construct. One response to English puts its spread in the context of international documents addressing human rights. It might appear that English will be the language of such documents, even if that does not (indeed must not) imply that the legal frameworks thereby put in place are somehow English (British, American, or related) (see Toolan 2003). Of course, it is also possible that English (or indeed any other language) is simply unable to function in this neutral fashion when framing universal human rights. Our unease concerning English could be focused here on the issue of specific language rights (see Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson 1994). Additionally, as already suggested, we might be concerned about the export of specific ideas of communication, which operate to impose certain cultural norms even when no specific (p.55) language is necessarily imposed (see Cameron 2002; Kayman 2004). Global citizenship implies at least some of the time the defence of the local, and that defence is obviously necessary in the specific case of local linguistic cultures. But there is an interweaving of practical and metaphorical levels again that sometimes blinds us to the potential of World Englishes precisely as contributions to this defence, and accordingly this chapter will address both practical and more metaphorical dimensions of the connection between English and global citizenship, in the spirit of grasping some of the potential of English as well as the obvious and numerous problems there are in thinking of it as that language.

Returning to the place of English in universities worldwide, we can focus on the responsibility for educating global citizens. In their study of the intersection of universities and global citizenship, Rhoads and Szelényi argue that ‘the crises of the twenty-first century increasingly will need to be confronted by individuals consciously thinking and acting as global citizens’ (2011, 258). They see a key role for universities in educating ‘globally informed collectivist citizens’ (2011, 287), which they examine through case studies of institutions in Argentina, China, Hungary, and the US. A key issue for such institutions, although obviously in very different ways, remains language, as part of a group of concerns largely focused on the West. Ennew and Greenaway summarize these concerns in the following way: ‘for some [critics] the process of internationalization and globalization gives rise to concerns about the dominance of the western model of the university, the perpetuation of inequality, an over dependence on the English language and the re-invention of a form of colonialism’ (2012, 9). While English is in the centre of their list, in fact it provides a focus for the other anxieties, because it perpetuates inequality and functions as an extension of older forms of colonialism. Of course, it is difficult to see how the situation could be otherwise, even if it is desirable that it should be. In a later chapter, on composition, I discuss what I call a realist vision of internationalization in the university context, by which I mean a specifically multilingual vision. And yet, as realists, we also know that English is currently the international language of research (pressure being brought to bear on scholars to publish in Anglophone journals), that models for universities have in more recent times tended to be Anglophone (even if overlaid on a German one), and that the centre of the academic world is broadly (at least perceived to be, according to university league tables, etc) North American. This present situation realistically does not match our aspirations, and intuitively it is not clear that English could be anything other than a hindrance to global universities producing global citizens. Returning to the broader issues, Nolan argues that in fact universities can readily function as both guardians of local culture (including language) and as key points of access to global networks:

It is possible that with regards to knowledge, ideas and cultures, globalization will serve to highlight and accentuate differences and reveal the (p.56) power of cultural differences in stimulating new thinking and innovative ideas. This may provide a basis for universities to reconcile their role as guardians of national or regional cultures and histories with a desire to engage (and have their graduates engage) on a global scale. (Nolan 2012, 114)

We can think about this balance through language yet again, as it is certainly arguable that if we think less of English and more of Englishes, both possibilities are engaged. Yet if we shift our perspective in that way, we are not only in conflict with present realities concerning research, but also losing some of the broader utility deriving from the use of English. The rest of this chapter grapples with some of these difficulties concerning balance.

If we focus on global citizenship as both an abstraction and a very practical matter, clearly universities are addressing the question of such citizenship as part of a broader consciousness that it is desirable (although polling demonstrates that such consciousness is variable, and could well be in decline (see Patel 2011)). One way to think about the global spread of English is to understand motivations for learning it as deriving from emerging global identities, specifically from a growing informal sense of global citizenship. However, any sense of global citizenship that is connected with English seems destined to remain controversial, because the English language remains a contested presence. As already discussed, the worldwide spread of English can be understood as producing the hegemony of English –as Robert Phillipson argues, linguistic imperialism remains powerful. If there were to be a language of global citizenship, it could not be an English that imposes itself and is imposed as an alternative to local languages; rather, we would need to revisit other models, perhaps even an artificial auxiliary language such as Esperanto. At the same time, the localization and indigenization of English have produced a variety of World Englishes, varieties that are arguably irreducible to instances of that linguistic imperialism. These Englishes illustrate the tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces in the present state of the language, but they may also indicate possibilities for conceiving the connection between English and global citizenship in terms beyond rejection or celebration. Accordingly, I will consider the possible connections to be made between ideals of global citizenship and concepts and practices of World Englishes. The rest of this chapter will use ideas of World Englishes that in many cases directly challenge the assumptions behind terms like ‘World English’, ‘Global English’, ‘Globish’, or even (after C.K. Ogden, I.A. Richards. et al.) ‘Basic English’. Some commentators celebrate the potential for such a centre of gravity; one example is McCrum (2010), who adapts Nerrière’s use of the term Globish. Other writers such as Nicholas Ostler (2010) consider English the last lingua franca, soon to be rendered obsolete as a lingua franca by technological (alongside political and economic) shifts. These technological shifts would also potentially render all cosmopolitanisms redundant; indeed, Ostler is particularly interested in the increasingly realized (p.57) potential of machine translation, and suggests that people will soon enough be able to communicate globally in their own languages. The first perspective implicitly (frequently not so implicitly) celebrates English as the language of global citizenship, while the second considers its days severely numbered. Furthermore, each perspective has obvious implications for any argument about English as a (or even the) language of global citizenship. However, it is perhaps necessary to emphasize the extent to which English is now Englishes, if we are not to remain again trapped by a choice of either naive celebration or impatient rejection. Indeed, if we direct our attention towards the shifting and diverse range of World Englishes we can imagine a role for Englishes plural as the languages of global citizenship that shadow languages associated with formal citizenship, rather than being the controversial alternative apparently offered by Global English. Accordingly, although World Englishes appear to represent the dangers of centrifugal forces driving English to disintegrate, they could also be understood as offering enough autonomy to fulfill what Richards (1943) called the ‘supranational impulse’.

That impulse animates desirable forms of globalization, understood as distinct from globalism. Clarifying this distinction, Norman Fairclough makes a point central to critical discussion of globalization: ‘Certain aspects of globalization may be inevitable and irreversible, but there is nothing inevitable or irreversible about the strategy of globalism. Globalization can be steered in less damaging, more democratic, and more socially just and equitable directions’ (2006, 163). As one aspect of critical discussion of globalization, it is clear that democracy, social justice, and equity can be understood in terms of language. One point that might appear obvious is that the spread of the English language, understood as global or world English, is on the side of globalism. Democracy, social justice, and equity would then, according to Fairclough’s argument, require a highly sceptical perspective on that spread; once an aspect of different dispersals deriving from colonialism, slavery, and so on, the English language now appears central to versions of globalization understood as globalism. Accordingly, there seems no obvious way that we could defend the English language as the language of global citizenship; it is simply too historically freighted, not to mention being fundamental to ongoing global imbalances. It would seem very difficult indeed to square the spread of English with the aspirations of human rights discourses and (developing and often inchoate) international systems of democratic governance. As English has spread worldwide, it has come into conflict with provisions such as Article 27 of the Universal Declaration, covering free participation in communal cultural life. It is difficult not to retain sympathy for critical perspectives on the consequences of this spread, even if English is already the language of one dead empire and quite possibly soon of another. However, this chapter attempts to delineate if not limitations in this position then at least a way of understanding how in spite of this globalist world English we can also find evidence of the uneven development of globalized world Englishes. Indeed, Fairclough discusses re-scaling, meaning the development of new relations (p.58) between scales, such as the nation state and the global or the local, as key to the critical linguistic study of globalization. World Englishes can be understood as a series of phenomena that help us understand this re-scaling in everyday action. If global citizenship can be understood to shadow formal national citizenship, then the relationship between these scales, in certain contexts far more than others, can be understood in terms of lingua francas. World Englishes demonstrate the potential of popular linguistic re-scaling, as people switch between numerous regional, national, and local tongues, as well as localized and often indigenized Englishes, and also some form of English as an International Language, beyond the direction of traditional native-speakers. The world does not speak English, but to a great extent it does speak Englishes; in order to understand the connection between these Englishes and global citizenship, we need to consider how, when, and with what values and attitudes.

Models of Global Citizenship

Global citizenship might not be world citizenship, and there might be many fine distinctions to be drawn with other competing and/or complementary ideas such as cosmopolitanism, but, however we come to understand it, it is, as Heater (2002) suggests, just like world citizenship in the important regard that it remains an enigma. Needless to say, there are competing visions of global citizenship that must be taken into account before we can discuss the role of language for global citizens as such. In addition, it is necessary to make at least some distinction between metaphors of global citizenship and its actual practice, even if that distinction cannot be absolute; clearly, the metaphorical level impacts upon the practical level, as, for example, in debates regarding EU citizenship. Clearly, however, some distinction is possible, given that there are issues of governance intertwined with practical global citizenship. Meanwhile, on a metaphorical level there is clear evidence of literary representation and exploration of global citizenship, for example, in the fiction of Hari Kunzru (2005) or Kamila Shamsie (2009), and in many other forms of culture, popular and otherwise. It is impossible to privilege one over the other, particularly because the metaphorical and practical levels are so internally differentiated, but also because they unpredictably touch upon one another throughout global existence, even when it seems least global and most local. Furthermore, it is very difficult to discuss the relationship of these levels in terms of causation. One may provide context that enables or encourages the other, but again this is not predictable. This complex relationship is certainly relevant to our understanding of the place of English as both potential and actual language of global citizenship, as we will see. Practically speaking, it seems an unfortunate ‘choice’, but metaphorically speaking it may be a choice that we cannot easily make again in the present context; it would certainly be useful to describe what it enables as well as what it precludes.

(p.59) Before considering how English blocks or enables global citizenship, it is important to recognize that there is a great deal of disagreement concerning that citizenship’s desirability, at least in the present neo-liberal context, the orthodoxies of which remain dominant. If we focus our attention to global citizenship on the question of what kind of global governance is in the process of emerging, then it is difficult to ignore the fact that such citizenship is emerging under neo-liberalism in different forms. These conditions of emergence imply that, as April Biccum suggests, the citizens in question would most likely be those best able to take advantage of globalization, and so can be understood as entrepreneurs. With regard to who is designated by ‘global citizen’, the demand that global citizens be global entrepreneurs would apply to citizens from the South, desired to open themselves to the global market. But this demand would also, as Biccum discusses, imply the need for education in the North, where global citizenship nominally already exists. Biccum’s principal example is the shift in the discourse of international development initiated by the UK’s Labour Party under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which apparently required a shift in British citizens’ values and attitudes, a shift that can be understood as the education of global citizens. Biccum argues that global citizenship is apparently something from which many are excluded. At the same time, although it seems that global citizenship already resides in a location such as the UK, the DfID (Department for International Development) also suggests that UK citizens need to be educated into understanding development and being global citizens themselves; this education would aim to make the diversity of often critical voices in the citizenry more homogeneous and accepting of neo-liberal orthodoxy. Biccum is arguing that UK (followed by US and EU) subjects are being produced that are appropriate to the new imperialism, and that competing voices are being silenced through a kind of marketing campaign that normalizes that imperialism: ‘The current paradoxical climate of border paranoia, global migration, globalization, millennium development and foreign intervention has the potential to heighten awareness of ambivalences in the construction of contemporary metropolitan social life, and this is what the marketing campaign and development education in its neo-liberal variant is trying to quell’ (2010, 163). To a large extent, her references to the EU notwithstanding, Biccum’s global citizen of the North is likely Anglophone. The place of English in this narrative is then likely to be the unquestioned norm, or even the language of propaganda for this normalizing narrative of contemporaneity (as Biccum describes it), that stresses the break between undesirable past empires and a benevolent present and future. Needless to say, English should not be fulfilling this mystificatory function. Alternatively, the association of English with neo-liberalism reminds us of arguments about the commodification of English, a process that perhaps also functions to neutralize the language (which would be quite different from arguing that English is in some way already neutral) through insisting on its instrumental functions. This commodification accompanies discussion of English as a global language (p.60) in exhibiting the following discursive characteristics: 1. English is easy to learn; 2. English is practical; 3. people’s desire to learn English is instrumentally motivated. As Watts argues, ‘The commodification of language is closely associated with commercial interests, with a new kind of metaphorical conceptualisation of language as a valuable human resource’ (2011, 264). While Watts is concerned to describe this commodifying discourse, his description implies a critical perspective that we can extend here, as this convergence of English, global citizenship, and neo-liberalism inevitably seems culturally, politically, and economically biased.

Of course, there are alternative perspectives on what it means to be a global citizen, and so there are alternative connections we might make between English and that citizenship. Indeed, one such perspective can be drawn from postcolonial studies. If Biccum is correct about more ‘official’ versions of global citizenship, it becomes important to shift our attention to other potential resources for a vernacular cosmopolitanism. A key postcolonial thinker on this question is again Homi K. Bhabha, who theorizes global citizenship alongside minoritarian agents, those who in one way or another are translated without choice. One way he approaches this question is to return to earlier thinkers, recalling that we have been globalized before. In an example relevant to this chapter, Bhabha uses W.E.B. DuBois to argue that ‘The responsibility of the minoritarian agent lies in creating a world-open forum of communication’ (2007b, 191). The sense of communication involved here cannot be reduced to transparency or immediate accessibility, possibilities that would again favour the few at the expense of the many, as will be considered again towards the end of this chapter. Here it is important to understand why, for Bhabha, minoritarian agents are well placed to aid in the creation of such a forum, given that it would seem to be generally desirable. He argues that they are well placed because minoritarian agents have specific understanding of the need for closeness and negotiation as alternatives to oppositional positioning. Placing stress on contiguity (on metonymy rather than metaphor, as in Jakobson, Waugh, and Monville-Burston 1990), Bhabha suggests that, ‘solidarity depends on surpassing autonomy or sovereignty in favor of an intercultural articulation of differences’ (2007b, 191). However, it is difficult to articulate such differences at the same time as maintaining solidarity. In the terms of this chapter, it could be argued that Englishes provide and represent means of being contiguous, and this possibility derives from their affiliatory qualities. Unsurprisingly, Bhabha stresses that the minoritarian perspective tends towards processes of affiliation rather than assumptions concerning filiation: ‘This is a dynamic and dialectical concept of the minority as a process of affiliation, an ongoing translation of aims and interests through which minorities emerge to communicate their messages adjacently across communities’ (2007b, 191). In terms of human rights, this implies a difficulty in the sense that the concept of minority enshrined by Article 27 seems to assume a pre-existing group identity demanding protection. Bhabha thinks about this kind of minority identity in terms of (p.61) totality, and a tendency towards some form of realizable national identity. For him, this assumed tendency is a weakness in the discourse of rights: ‘Such a strong preference for cultural “holism” prevents Article 27 from envisaging, or providing protection for, new and affiliative forms of minoritarian agents and institutions who do not necessarily choose to signify their lifeworld in the political forms of nationness and nationalisms’ (2007b, 192). A minority is a product of filiation, while the minoritarian is the result of affiliation.

Discussion of English and Englishes maps on to the minority and minoritarian distinction, even if World Englishes are not exactly results of choices, except in limited terms in specific cases. In any case, it is clear that Bhabha makes postcolonialism central to his idea of global citizenship; when it comes to the global subject, the postcolonial provides examples of the ongoing experience of transition: ‘The territoriality of the global “citizen” is, concurrently, postnational, denational or transnational’ (2003, 50). This global citizen is difficult to describe, and in fact the category might be more important for its relation to the ‘normal’ case of nationality; accordingly, its form is as important as its content. Bhabha discusses this citizenship in terms of what legal theory calls ‘effective nationality’, which is adjacent to ‘formal nationality’ (see Aleinikoff and Klusmeyer 2001, 75). This nationality has status in the context of international rights legislation, and although it appears dependent or subservient to formal nationality its adjacency makes it a necessary supplement to the latter category. The term captures the sense in which the global citizen is necessarily disjointed, and not quite at one with itself. Effective nationality is contiguous, and its relationship with formal nationality is one of metonymy. The repeated reference to metonymy allows us to understand Bhabha’s introduction of Antonio Gramsci at this point. Of course, Gramsci is most closely associated with the idea of hegemony (e.g., Gramsci 1992), an idea that emphasizes the ways power is not only a matter of domination but also of consent. As is well known, according to Gramsci, in trying to create consent, hegemony encounters inevitable dissent, meaning that cultural meaning is negotiated, and is not something that can be simply imposed by predictable ruling classes. To answer the question of who exactly conducts these negotiations under globalization, Bhabha evokes a ‘philosophy of the part’, a philosophy given institutional expression in the ‘the cultural front’, which evolves a non-totalizing world-view. The cultural front transforms the meaning of hegemony, because it undermines the idea of pre-given political identities. The relationships of hegemony may be complex negotiations, but they are still complex negotiations between fairly stable classes. This stability might appear to have been undermined by the shift to postmodern social conditions, but political collectivities obviously retain their importance. It is just that there is a need to imagine collective subjects, and not simply reduce these subjects to effects of rational contracts between fully conscious individuals; in other words, a cultural front is an alliance that is narrated, and indeed is explicitly so. Rather than resorting to simplistic polarities, the cultural front places itself in a relationship of negotiation with (p.62) the status quo, meaning that it does not simply reject the status quo. Instead, there the cultural front as an idea demands the recognition of process and partiality. The metonymy that Bhabha apparently privileges over metaphor is here reframed as subaltern contiguity, or a translation between political contexts that is always provisional and ongoing.

This translatability is what allows so many different experiences to be called ‘postcolonial’. The category does not reduce these experiences to instances of an overarching framework, but instead recognizes that translations and affiliations between contexts can be expedient in political transformation. Grouping these examples together constructs a form of counter-hegemony; such a postcolonial cultural formation must be constructed with care, but its potential justifies that effort. This is because the postcolonial perspective has so many insights into the experiences that characterize the present. So, Bhabha suggests that the feeling of time in the contemporary moment is best imagined through the examples given by partial milieus, meaning those subjects and collectives who experienced histories of slavery and colonialism. These subjects’ feelings of partiality and transition should, he argues, be built into the idea of global citizenship, in that the subaltern negotiates from a position of partiality and hybridity, without the guarantees of rootedness. Only through emphasizing the interconnectedness and incompleteness of our identities can we construct a model of citizenship that will not revert to default assumptions about the permanence and pre-eminence of national identity. Languages might appear to be ‘naturally’ the preserve or property of such national identities. If we wish to offer a corrective or (more reasonably) supplement to such a perspective, then World Englishes provide a starting point. Indeed, through foregrounding what I am calling a postcolonial conception of global citizenship we can begin to discern a very different picture, and one that might have a place for World Englishes as languages of global citizenship. That is the case in spite of the evident difficulties in adapting Bhabha’s conception of citizenship to contexts of actual governance. Indeed, while it is difficult to make Bhabha’s sense of global citizenship fit the context of global governance, in terms of understanding the role of Englishes it might also be essential. World Englishes might be the languages of at least some ‘emergent, undocumented lifeworlds’ (2007a, 39). However, the role of World Englishes in the realm of global institutions is as yet limited if not non-existent, and we remain in a situation where English in the (apparent) singular is a controversial institutional presence, as we will now see.

English in/as the Global Institution

This discussion of models of global citizenship emphasizes that the philosophical abstractions are very much connected to international governance and institutional practices. Such is also the case with English, which is often discussed (as here) in highfalutin terms but is also a matter of (p.63) everyday use. Much of the activity in English on an inter-or supranational level is of course witnessed in formal institutional practices. Such practices are themselves difficult to view dispassionately, and are often the source of controversy. If nothing else, these practices can feel divorced from the citizens, whether these citizens feel global, regional, or, more likely still, local. Will Kymlicka, political theorist specializing in liberalism and minority rights, observes an ‘obvious fact’; he writes that ‘[W]e need international political institutions which transcend linguistic/national boundaries. We need such institutions to deal not only with economic globalization, but also with common environmental problems and issues of international security. At present, these organizations exhibit a major “democratic deficit”’ (2001, 324). Restricted as they are to national contexts, national political institutions seem inadequate to the tasks of governing economic globalization, international security, and related issues such as the environment. Such an assertion sounds rather obvious, although it is of course not obvious to everyone. Kymlicka, however, takes it to be obvious; if we accept this obviousness, we might then focus on the question of transcending specif-ically linguistic boundaries. Kymlicka’s assertion is far-reaching, and in the context of language raises one question immediately: does an institution that transcends linguistic boundaries need to conduct its business in multiple languages, in one language, or in some combination that oscillates between multi-and monolingual working practices? Of course, English often in fact appears to dominate many international institutions, and so, keeping this first issue in mind, we can move on to a second issue. If we accept Kymlicka’s assumption, we need to ask: despite the fact that it is at the moment the language most transcendent of boundaries, is English in fact one of the aspects of globalized institutions that contributes to this ‘democratic deficit’? Perhaps it might be counter-intuitively argued that not only does English not transcend boundaries, it in fact still operates to bolster certain national interests and privileges. Does English necessarily privilege its so-called native speakers, thereby undermining not only global institutions but also the very idea of global citizenship? One way to approach this question is to consider the connection between global citizenship and cosmopolitanism. In his study of cosmopolitanism, Stan van Hooft expresses the basic alternatives in familiar terms: ‘One could ask of [the spread of English] whether it occurred because of a newly emerging sense of global solidarity and cultural understanding or whether it arose because of the hegemony of English-speaking peoples in the world’ (2009, 10). He suggests that Esperanto may be the only language that is genuinely cosmopolitan in spirit. That emphasis on spirit indicates again the significance of splitting global citizenship between institutional and metaphorical levels, and in the situation raised by Kymlicka the emphasis is clearly more on the institutional (although he does, it should be noted, decouple global citizenship from direct accountability), perhaps suggesting that English is even less appropriate. The following section addresses this issue, although, as my (p.64) earlier discussion of ‘the’ global citizen indicates, English’s role cannot be understood purely in institutional terms.

Discussion of global linguistic realities certainly frequently coincides with discussion of global governance or citizenship. The speaking of a language around the world (however limited in specific contexts) is clearly connected to the development of global institutions (again, however limited). In each case, the existence of the global scale can be understood to be (and is often desired to be) supplemental in the Derridean sense, meaning that it is both a superficially unnecessary addition and also something fulfilling a fundamental need. Exploring contemporary cosmopolitanism, David Held argues that global governance is being realigned with democracy and social justice, but that this does not necessarily imply the shrinking of state power: ‘it seeks to entrench and develop political institutions at regional and global levels as a necessary supplement to those at the level of the state’ (2010, 177). During certain phases of colonial control, and in certain contexts even after independence, the spread of the English language has appeared to demand the exclusion or at least marginalization of local languages (for a famous example, see Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o 1981). In his dissection of linguistic imperialism, Phillipson (1992) argues that post-independence African states show evidence of the hegemonic role of English, with ELT being an instance of ongoing structural domination. Clearly enough, from any perspective interested in global justice, such a language has no place as the language of global citizenship. However, it is at least a possibility that English understood as supplemental, and diversified beyond the direction of native-speakers, could be very different.

Before discussing the assumption that there ought to be a language of global citizenship, it will be useful to understand how the apparent need for it arose. Much has been written about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similar international documents, for example debating their ethnocentrism (for an overview see Morsink 1999; on the philosophical background see Morsink 2009), but in any case the period following 1945 saw the foundation of key international and often supranational institutions. The United Nations began in 1945, along with the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF in 1946, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1957. In addition, other groupings have maintained or intensified their importance, often in quite different ways, as can be seen in the examples of the Commonwealth and the European Union (EU) (currently posed by UKIP [United Kingdom Independence Party] as alternatives for the UK; see Nuttall 2008). All such institutions (and others such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)) have discussed and acted on demands for official languages, and have tended towards accepting the need for ‘working languages’. While it is controversial, English remains important to all such institutions, and, as David Crystal (2003) has pointed out, a significant proportion of their institutional running costs necessarily covers translating documents and interpreting debates and discussions. Nonetheless, multilingualism is a political, practical, and philosophical necessity in international (p.65) institutions, and can be a key element in their identities, as in the EU. The example of the EU is interesting, in that it appears to be a test case for multilingualism, as Phillipson (2003) suggests. Today the respect for and learning of multiple European languages is understood to be vital in uniting the varied countries constituting the Union, and yet the Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) has published its own study of the implications of lingua franca usage, focusing in its second half inevitably on English (European Commission, Directorate-General for Translation 2010). However, we cannot focus only on the present state of multilingualism alongside English as a lingua franca, as the EU has a long history that provides some important context for how its languages are conceived today. In 1958, the official and working languages were those of its founding states: Dutch, French, German, and Italian. Today it has twenty-three official languages, some of which are shared by more than one state, with some states operating in more than one of those languages. EU law is binding on states and accordingly states must have versions of individual laws in their national languages, demanding at least that much translation. Then there is the question of what the DGT refers to as the natural justice of each member state playing its own linguistic part. However, practically speaking, this multilingual emphasis is potentially onerous. In 2003, the EU population was 379 million, and expenditure on translation by all the EU institutions came to 549 million euros, out of the total EU budget for that year of 98,300 million euros. Translation by DGT on its own cost 230 million euros. Accordingly, for translation, each EU citizen paid 1.45 euros (all institutions)/0.60 euros (DGT only). After 2004’s enlargement, the EU had a population of 453 million and the cost of translation at all institutions was estimated to be 807 million euros per year including, for DGT, 320 million euros (1.78 euros and 0.70 euros respectively, per citizen). This was from a total EU budget for 2004 of 99,806 million euros and for 2005 of 105,221 million euros (figures from European Commission, Directorate-General for Translation 2012). There has been further enlargement since 2004, and as of 2013 countries such as Iceland and Turkey seem likely to add to the translation costs. In times of economic certainty, such costs might be warily accepted; those times have at least temporarily passed for the EU. The DGT itself notes that financial constraints dictate that not all documents are translated into every language, and specifies English, German, and French as procedural languages. Potentially, it may be time to cease viewing such constraints as cultural and political as well as financial.

Much of this chapter seems to assume that global citizenship does in fact require a language, but the EU case suggests that this is not necessarily true. Indeed, depending on how we view translation, interpreting, and advances in machine translation, there may not be any need for linguistic compromise. While Crystal (2003) points out that the few professional translators and interpreters are overpowered and underpaid, Ostler (2010) has recently argued that machine translation has already fulfilled some of its early promise, and is therefore a capable aid to those who wish to read in languages they know little (p.66) or not at all. Intriguingly, although mainly symbolically, in 2012, Esperanto became the 64th language supported by Google Translate. Such technology is cost intensive in development but cheap once running, although we remain far from perfection –should meaningful perfection be possible. Ostler claims that English will not be succeeded by any other lingua franca (obvious alternatives being languages such as Chinese or Spanish) because of these technological developments; he even suggests that people will simply speak to the world in their own language, depending on technological connectedness to guarantee communicative connectedness. According to this logic, language learning might well be perceived as decreasingly important (and English would certainly lose its current cachet), leading to a form of ‘cosmopolitan deficit’. However the technology of machine translation develops, and it is developing rapidly, the fact remains that we do have a worldwide working language. However, the appeal of Ostler’s vision of machine aided global communication is obvious, because it is far from clear that English can be described or accepted as the language of global citizenship, and there are alternatives that have been entertained.

Cosmopolitan Alternatives to English

The next context I will consider foregrounds democracy understood in less institutional and more metaphorical terms. This metaphorical level is that on which we might be said to have a world econoculture, and, as already mentioned, this culture functions as an extension of Anderson’s idea of imagined communities. We certainly have the controversial use of English within supranational institutions, those institutions constituting one element of global citizenship. But, of course, there are other, less institutional ways of conceiving that citizenship, and these less institutional levels are more reconcilable with different versions of English. Indeed, we also already have a kind of relatively restricted use of English by global citizens; we just might need to have more such citizens. Furthermore, it is not clear that such citizenship coincides with cosmopolitanism. Indeed, the extent to which it does coincide depends on which definition of cosmopolitanism we are discussing, and it may be necessary to shift our focus to forms of what constitutes Bhabha’s vernacular cosmopolitanism. It is certainly easy to conceive of cosmopolitans as fundamentally transnational or even supranational, as suggested by commentators such as Ulf Hannerz (1996). However, the freedom to be transnational, alongside a fluency in English, is also predictably associated with elite cultures of various forms. As one example of this position, we can consider Montserrat Guibernau’s description of a cosmopolitan identity:

By definition, a cosmopolitan identity is fluid, dynamic and a prerogative of a selected elite. Today’s cosmopolitans belong to the middle and upper (p.67) classes, tend to speak English as a mother tongue or as a lingua franca, enjoy sufficient resources to take advantage of the goods and lifestyles associated with post-industrial societies and feel comfortable using the continuously emerging new ranges of sophisticated information technology and communications goods bombarding the market. Cosmopolitans transcend the limits of their national and local communities and enjoy travelling a world that, for them, has truly become a single place. (Guibernau 2007, 152)

Cosmopolitans are not global citizens necessarily, and emerging forms of cosmopolitanism certainly might be dismissed as restricted to a global elite. Indeed, it is clear that Guibernau’s description shares many characteristics with certain understandings of postmodern identity, something that has long been argued to mark the limits of the practices and discourses of the colonial West (see McLennan 2003). If English is the language of that version of cosmopolitanism or postmodern fluidity, then again it is unsuitable for global citizenship, with those identities tending to mistake their own rarefied conditions for more general global conditions. It should, however, be noted that while Guibernau insists that a shared language is absolutely essential for a shared identity, her stated objection to English is that, despite its number of speakers, ‘it is still far from being a lingua franca at global level’ (2007, 155). Whether or not that is true, it is easier to imagine more political and cultural objections to English as having greater significance. We might understand English to be ‘the cosmopolitan tongue’, as McWhorter (2009) suggests, but he is dismissive when discussing widespread concerns about its spread, seemingly unable to imagine alternative perspectives. This limitation means that in the end the cosmopolitanism in question itself begins to appear very limited indeed. I earlier cited translation costs in the EU, but such costs are only one measure of linguistic issues or even risk; as the association of English with a limited cosmopolitanism implies, there are serious social costs, within individual states and across the world, and these costs can be understood in terms of class-linking and related categories. Perhaps it is impossible for English to overcome its association with wealth and privileged social strata, and perhaps the desire that it (or rather, its speakers) should overcome this association is somewhat naive, as English often continues to be associated with aspiration as such. However, without some reckoning with the restrictions and prejudices involved, English will remain the expression of a wealthy global citizenry.

We can consider this issue by thinking about the potential disadvantages soon to be clear for monolingual speakers of English. In terms of English speakers, the possible alternative ways of using English in Guibernau’s description are important; she refers to speaking English as a mother tongue or speaking it as a lingua franca. As David Graddol writes in a report for the British Council, the spread of English worldwide does not necessarily mean that ‘native-speakers’ can relax and enjoy an arbitrary but nonetheless assuredly real advantage. Indeed, according to Graddol, the monolingual (p.68) English speaker is likely to find himself or herself at a disadvantage in the near future, particularly in relation to an English-using global ‘elite’: ‘we must not be hypnotized by the fact that this elite will speak English: the more significant fact may be that, unlike the majority of present-day native speakers, they will also speak at least one other language –probably more fluently and with greater cultural loyalty’ (1997, 63). Graddol’s reminder comes from a report for the British Council, which of course has its own angle and emphasis, while the commissioning body has its own investments. These contextual points have not compromised Graddol’s acuity, and his point is very significant for thinking about English today; the question of cultural loyalty seems to be central to any use of English (or any other natural language) as the language of global citizenship, as once again the historical contexts and present-day realities assert themselves and inevitably challenge English’s pre-eminence. We might wonder, however, if there has been some form of qualitative change in values and attitudes vis-à-vis English, particularly if English is understood as blurring into Englishes. We might also wonder about the definition of the ‘global elite’, apparently coinciding with Guibernau’s cosmopolitans. Who speaks Englishes, and how do they feel about that act of speaking? English speakers are most often not only English speakers, but bi-or multilinguals, in much the same way that global citizens will not only act as or feel themselves to be global citizens.

That last point is important when understanding the emotional connection felt by speakers of English to the language. Again, this analysis draws in theories of hegemony, but in this case specifically that of Laclau and Mouffe in their critique of politics (see, for example, Laclau 1996; Laclau and Mouffe 2001). Laclau and Mouffe employ an anti-essentialist approach that assumes that the meaning of any given identity is not contained within itself, but is always different from itself and deferred. And yet this does not mean that social identity does not exist, just as it does not mean that society itself does not exist. Being, understood in this anti-essentialist way, the being of any social identity, is a matter of articulation, which is the combination of two elements within a differential signifying system. The two elements that are combined (for example, in terms of the global spread of English, Anglophone and French) clearly produce a new meaning, a new social identity, and they importantly emphasize that this meaning is very much a production rather than an originary essence. For Laclau and Mouffe, we need to conceive society itself in the same way, which is why hegemony is used. Although society is not an objective totality, and indeed is a production, that does not make it any less real; hegemony is the ongoing process that produces the meaning of society. To return us to the question of English, we can then argue that one need not think or identify as an English speaker, even when one is a native speaker, all of the time. And even those who have little allegiance to English, due to historical or cultural distance, may align themselves with the language more in certain contexts.

Being an English speaker, or a speaker who switches between English (p.69) and Englishes, alongside other languages, is a common enough practice and experience. English is one language amongst many, just as global citizenship is one form of citizenship amongst others (at least it could be, or should be). One key move towards accepting English and Englishes worldwide will have to be its displacement from an unthinkingly privileged position. That displacement would simply be an acknowledgement of the reality of the majority of linguistic ecologies in which English holds a place. Few indeed believe that global citizenship will replace other forms, but that does not mean it will not continue to have an important role to play. The same ought to be true of English, for as long as its use makes sense for its worldwide users. Considering the contingent relation between national community and citizenship, Held discusses the potential for understanding global citizenship as one form of citizenship amongst others: ‘people would come, in principle, to enjoy multiple citizenships –political membership, that is, in the diverse communities which significantly affect them’ (2010, 101). To some extent this understanding of global citizenship describes what we usually think of as contingent identities. However, while Held puts stress on citizenship as a question of political identification with multiple foci, global citizenship could perhaps more often be understood outside narrowly political terms; in other words, it could be understood in terms of cultural politics. Such diversity of communal identification implies contingency, and perhaps also different ways of thinking about English. Should we think about English as a unitary phenomenon, within reason, one to which speakers around the world aspire, frequently despite themselves? If we think of English in this way then the objections we have already considered are raised, and we ought then to seek alternative languages. Looking back at various attempts to produce and or impose such an alternative also provides evidence as to why no alternative language currently seems plausible. It might indeed be the case that, in terms of lingua francas, English will be the last, as Ostler suggests. Yet what we also have in Englishes is a series of languages that eludes the status of one language among others. It is that plurality that signals the potential of English as languages of global citizenship. Nonetheless, the alternatives are real and worthy of serious consideration, as we will now see.

One alternative to English that appears to avoid cultural and historical associations (desirable or, more likely, not) is Esperanto, the best-known international artificial auxiliary language. As is well known, Esperanto’s creator Ludwig Zamenhof wanted to devise a language that was not only easy to learn but also that would assist in achieving world peace. As Kep Enderby (cited in Al-Dabbagh 2010) suggests, Esperanto is still being used, has a literature of its own, a significant number of translations, and George Soros as a prominent (native) speaker (although one who apparently believes that Esperanto had its chance and failed (see Okrent 2009)). However, despite its apparently neutral identity, there are obvious limitations to Esperanto. One limitation is practical, as, with only approximately two million speakers, it does not exert the same powerful pull as a widely spoken language. Nor, (p.70) arguably, does it evolve through the concerted everyday use that leads to so much development of a natural language. Finally, and importantly, it is distinctively European (hence, perhaps, Google Translate’s facility with the language, despite the small amount of available data), and so is not necessarily easy to learn for speakers of non-European languages, and perhaps not so neutral as its proponents advertise. Another alternative to English (whatever its name states) is Basic English, as devised by C.K. Ogden and championed by I.A. Richards. As Colin MacCabe suggests, although Richards is better known for his involvement in shaping practical criticism, he pursued literature to ‘ensure optimum forms of communication’ (1999, 165), particularly as a response to war. Basic is an aspect of Richards’s pursuit of this communication, and he took it to China, during his time at Tsinghua University. With its strictly limited vocabulary and apparent ease of learning, it seemed ideal for bringing the country within the realm of international communication. Commenting that there were simply so many Chinese that it would become imperative that they be brought into the international community, Richards (1943) suggested that Basic English could be a key force in creating or fostering the supranational impulse. By contrast, Richards noted the limitations of Esperanto, specifically its artificiality. He further warned that the supranational language could not be a ‘denatured’ form of an already existing language (some who encounter Basic may find this warning amusing and even bemusing). Finally, he placed emphasis on avoiding any feeling of imposition of the language, implying that English per se could not but feel imposed, for all the reasons we have already mentioned. Basic English, in a way comparable to Esperanto, is utopian; the product of a committed pacifist, it lives on in the form of the Simple English version of Wikipedia (although it allows 1,000 most common words rather than Basic’s 850). Making English basic, simplified, international, or some other variation, appears to reduce the seemingly inherent advantage of English native speakers. However, it ought to be remembered that Basic was championed by Churchill, implying that Ogden and Richards, however much they sought to avoid imposing any language on any speaker, were somewhat naive (see Tong 1999; Koeneke 2004). As another more recent alternative, Marko Modiano’s models of English as an International Language (EIL) are concerned to move away from any stress of native speakers (and so can be compared to airline English, other English for Specific and Academic Purposes (ESP) versions, and recent attempts to imagine teaching English as a Lingua Franca (ELF)), but still centred on a privileged version accessible to some but not all (see Modiano 1999; Jenkins 2009). Finally, we can consider Jean-Paul Nerrière’s Globish as an alternative, from its name onwards designed to avoid associations with the flag-waving implicit in celebrations of global English (both American and British; see Nerrière and Hon 2009). Extending to its logical conclusion Modiano’s position in support of his idea of EIL, Globish is challenging in its argument that native speakers are simply too good at English to be good speakers of English internationally.

Each of these alternatives to English (understanding Basic, EIL, and Globish (p.71) to be in various ways meaningfully distinct from English) appears to be a singular phenomenon (consequences of a homogenization that is another myth analysed by Watts (2011)). But, of course, it could be argued that the alternative ought to be marked by both centripetal and centrifugal forces (an idea drawn from Bakhtin, but with precursors; see Bolton 2006). It is desirable that an alternative has some of the features of a single language (communicative practicality, global consciousness, and so on) with some of the features of multilingual reality (distinct identity, resistance to ideologies of transparency, etc.). These paired features are at least tentatively discernible in World Englishes. The pluralization of English reminds us that the range of other languages impacting on English is too great to pretend that fragmentation is not already under way: Singlish and Spanglish, if understood as connected, and products of similar linguistic processes, must also be understood as deriving from very different contexts. And this tension (fundamentally, a series of tensions between centripetal and centrifugal, visible in linguistic, political, cultural, and other domains) is what allows World Englishes to function as languages of global citizenship. The outline of an explanation for this perhaps counter-intuitive claim is as follows. We need to begin by recalling the social, political, and cognitive implications of the diversity of World Englishes. Tom McArthur (2002) makes a heavily qualified claim for the potential of such a family of English languages, knowingly risking the charge of wide-eyed idealism. If we shift our rhetoric somewhat, and imagine the World Englishes as instances of a language of global citizenship, then we gain something as much as we lose the obvious transparency of an international standard. If global citizenship shadows formal citizenship then it does not subsume all its linguistic resources in the drive to fit an ideal communicative situation. If that is the case then the Englishes that increasingly mark informal global or supranational belonging are quite properly distinct from the English that is used in international institutional contexts. This distinction can be understood through shifting our attention to versions of communication found in the philosophical work of Habermas and Derrida. Habermas is well known for extending a Kantian vision of global institutions and citizenship, as that vision might be realized in the twenty-first century. In an interview entitled ‘America and the World’, he raises the question of whether people can be made to care beyond the social solidarity of a national identity (2004); he wonders if national social rights can be expanded to supranational communities, and so about the possibility of a world political community. Seemingly, a political community depends on an insider/outsider distinction, and so there would have to be large regional communities interacting rather than a world community; for example, European citizenship might well be viable, but according to this logic not world or global citizenship. If there was to be a ‘parliament of world citizens’ (a second chamber, shadowing the General Assembly), Habermas notes that it would need to be negative, based on avoiding atrocity and conflict. He suggests that such an assembly could not be held together by positive, thick traditions. However, we might wonder if this is (p.72) necessarily still the case, insofar as World Englishes provide the semblance of a thick linguistic family tradition.

Paradoxically, perhaps, such a thick tradition may well exist to the extent that Englishes imply not consensus (as McArthur appears to suggest), but dissensus. As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, Oakeshott (1962) has something like this emphasis in mind when he suggests that poetry has its place in a conversation that, while it may have passages of demonstration or argument, is fundamentally aiming at something other than truth and something more like ‘simple’ continuation. Certainly it is understandable that a conversation understood to be aiming for truth would demand that its participants be speaking their own tongues, however that category is understood (in fact, this would not be a conversation at all, according to Oakeshott, but instead inquiry or debate (1962, 198)). In a debate, the hegemonic properties of English might well be understood as an insuperable problem. Perhaps, however, certain (metaphorical) aspects of global citizenship are better understood as a conversation than a debate, and accordingly there is a place for English. Indeed, as already indicated, the numerous commentators who criticize English for its hegemonic properties are very much using the appropriate terminology; however, it is necessary to take the next step, which is to recall that hegemony’s persuasive elements, its need to produce consensus, entail the possibility of dissensus. Indeed, we can argue that there is only communication to the extent that we do not in fact agree. Habermas is well known for the idea of the ideal speech situation, a non-coercive and rationally consensual communicative interaction (this idea has been superseded in his own work, it should be said). But it has been argued that implicit in Habermas’s work is that the goal of communication is its end; pursued to its conclusion, in the truly ideal speech situation nothing is said. Ultimately, our speech acts involve us in disagreement from the beginning. As Geoffrey Bennington suggests, ‘If the end of communication is the end of communication, then the closer you get to the end, the nearer you are to its end. The fact of communication means that communication is not perfect’ (2001, 54). As a development of this counter-intuitive position, we might explore the following challenging suggestion from an interview with Derrida:

we cannot, and we must not, exclude the fact that when someone is speaking, in private or in public, when someone teaches, publishes, preaches, orders, promises, prophesies, informs or communicates, some force in him or her is also striving not to be understood, approved, accepted in consensus –not immediately, not fully, and therefore not in the immediacy and plenitude of tomorrow, etc. (Derrida 1997, 218)

‘Communication’ is the last term in Derrida’s list, and is arguably the master term underlying the others. To communicate, to be understood, is to become fully present, but also to vanish. It is to make ourselves fully transparent to the gaze of others. If we take this thought and extend it to the discussion of (p.73) global citizenship understood beyond strict institutional rationality, then we might well find that Englishes allow us both to have our transparency and also to reserve our opaqueness and cultural specificity. As we have seen, language rights inevitably tend towards clearly defined languages (which in a sense do not actually exist, being rather effects of stabilization), and most likely defend minority languages against certain rapacious majority languages, the principal being English. A global citizenship would on one level seem to require the incorporation of this kind of right, in order to preserve the diversity of voices necessary for conversation not to become argument. Yet, perhaps, at least intermittently, World Englishes, without either a nation or a national minority identity, can offer much of what global citizenship seems to desire.


In their mobility and difference, World Englishes can function as languages of a metaphorical global citizenship, and in many cases already do so, if always alongside other languages. To that extent they act as a force resisting global English’s centralizing and homogenizing pull. But neither the centripetal nor centrifugal has any necessary meaning outside the many contexts in which we already participate, and which will call us forward in the future. Those contexts are stretching the meaning of a postcolonial reading further and further. This chapter’s initial discussion of Obama’s invocation of global citizenship in addressing a European audience, as well as my use of examples drawn from EU practice, seem to have taken us far from meaningfully postcolonial contexts for English; indeed, perhaps we would be better focusing on other examples, such as how English functions in ASEAN (see Kirkpatrick 2008; 2010; 2012). Yet, at the same time, any extension of postcolonial studies into engagement with globalization studies will inevitably address such contexts, just as anti-colonial thinkers situated themselves against and alongside global traditions in thought (see, for example, Young 2001); certainly, any absolute division is rather artificial, particularly when it comes to thinking about Englishes today. Indeed, as this chapter has shown, postcolonial perspectives on issues relating to global citizenship and cosmopolitanism necessarily become involved in studies of globalization and so on, as part of a project of provincializing Europe. If, as this chapter has argued, it is appropriate to consider encouraging or at the very least tolerating an already existing language of global citizenship, then we might discuss World Englishes as languages of cosmopolitanism ‘from below’ rather than ‘from above’ (see Appadurai 1996; Bhabha 1996), hence my interest in global citizenship as cultural and also metaphorical rather than necessarily institutional and political. It is necessary to consider the more nebulous realm of popular global citizenship, rather than remaining restricted to governance, a sphere in which the spread of English will necessarily continue to be a controversial issue. That being said, the next chapter will bring together the analysis of (p.74) political constitutions, specifically declarations of independence, with the cultural object most intuitively authoritative over language, the dictionary. It considers the extent to which dictionaries necessarily prescribe as well as describe. It also warns against a continued defaulting into familiar and reified varieties-based approaches to Englishes, which in the end is a defaulting into ideas of cultural and linguistic ownership quite inimical to any idea of global citizenship.