A1 Journal article (refereed)
Ambivalent English : What We Talk About When We Think We Talk About Language (2020)

Saarinen, T., & Ennser-Kananen, J. (2020). Ambivalent English : What We Talk About When We Think We Talk About Language. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(3), 115-129. https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.581

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Saarinen, Taina; Ennser-Kananen, Johanna

Journal or series: Nordic Journal of English Studies

ISSN: 1502-7694

eISSN: 1654-6970

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 19

Issue number: 3

Pages range: 115-129

Publisher: Göteborg University

Publication country: Sweden

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.581

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/72159


The ambivalence of English manifests itself in the discourses that surround it. English may be a resource and consume resources; it empowers and oppresses. The dichotomous discussion around the usefulness or dangers of English as a “global” or “world” language erases problematizations of the layered societal implications of English in localised contexts. English needs to be analysed not (only) as a language but (also) as the ideologies and societal structures intertwined with it. We examine English in two higher education contexts. Our first case deals with the so-called Accent Reduction courses offered for international students in US universities. The second one analyses English as a language political catalyst in a nation state context. We conclude with a discussion of the nativist and nation-state-centred role of global English. We argue that to discuss English as a language oversimplifies the societal implications of the debate. When we think we talk about English, we are, in fact, talking about the various societal, political, economic, cultural and historical power dynamics that accompany it.

Keywords: English language; ambivalence; use of language; societal effects; language policy; ideologies; nation-state

Free keywords: English; internationalisation of higher education; nation-state centeredness; language as societal structure; language as ideology

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:26