The idea of English

Authored by: Philip Seargeant

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the ‘idea’ of English as it is constructed in society: the way that ideologies of English are manifest in both discourse and practice, in how people speak about the language, as well in how they use and relate to it. The chapter begins with an overview of the theoretical concerns that shape this approach to English, before moving to analyse examples of the ways in which concepts of English are constructed in various different domains. It focuses for these purposes on two case studies, one from political discourse and policy, the other from fiction and popular culture. In doing so it argues that, across these and many different domains, analysis of situated acts of conceptualisation can examine how and why we have the idea of English that we do in these various different contexts – and thus provide clear foundations for all other avenues of investigation into the language.

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