Developing a Social Critique of Hegemony of English

Yusara Anwar, Nor Liza Ali
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Abstract


The language pyramid in the post-colonial territories as propounded by Melchers and Shaw in 2003 aptly reflects on the status of different languages in Pakistan. At the top is English, with its heritage as a colonial language. Then is the ‘national’ language Urdu which has nationalist value and is spoken by the majority as a lingua franca; while at the bottom of this hierarchy are the regional languages and their dialects. This hierarchy of languages has deeper repercussions enrooting stratification based on social class and commodification of languages. In this paper, this claim is substantiated by semiotic analysis of a social media text− an amateur video clip that went viral on Facebook in January 2021− in which owners of a high-end cafe in Islamabad mock their manager’s English. The video is only the tip of the iceberg of the symbolic and linguistic capitals of English in Pakistan. This analysis is further pleaded by the literature on the critical approach to language policy and planning (LPP). This critical approach can be traced back to the 1980s and Tollefson’s oft-cited book in 1991 that endeavors to situate LPP as a part of ongoing conflicts between the elites and the common masses. He regards that the evolution of the critical approach has widened its scope rendering it primarily sociocultural, dealing with the dynamics of status and prestige. Thus stated, this research attempts to converge the critical relational theory of Bourdieu with semiotics to address this issue of class discrimination based on the hegemony of English in Pakistan through a multimethodological approach.

Keywords


Language policy, Semiotics, Critical theory, Linguistic market

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References


Anwar, Y. & Ali, N. L. (2021). Developing a social critique of hegemony of English. International Journal on Social and Education Sciences (IJonSES), 3(4), 732-751. https://doi.org/10.46328/ijonses.243




DOI: https://doi.org/10.46328/ijonses.243

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International Journal on Social and Education Sciences (IJonSES) - ISSN: 2688-7061


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.