Globalisation and Rethinking the Concept of Language

  • Sue Wright


A second and quite different set of future developments is also possible. If the dominance of a state in economic, political, cultural, military and technological spheres causes the spread of its national language as a prestige lingua franca, what might be the outcomes if these spheres became less resolutely national and if activity within them could be categorised as transnational? If flows, activity, contacts, exchanges, networks and so on are organised with little respect for or attention to political borders and if there is little or no discernible nation state hierarchy evident in the relationships, how does the rule that we learn the language of the group with more power than our own play out? There are thus several questions for this chapter. The first is to review the evidence which suggests that the nation state is losing some of the exclusive power it once possessed. The second is to examine the activities that were organised mainly at national level and that now occur at a variety of other levels, and enquire which language(s) permit(s) these new configurations. The third is to investigate the scale of the phenomenon. Do supranational, international and transnational actors interact on a scale that outstrips cross-border contact in the past? And are the people concerned a much larger tranche than the traditional elite? The final question will return to the quotation from Halliday in Chapter 1, and discuss how a lingua franca develops in a situation where enormous numbers count it in their language repertoire and employ it as an additional language.


Native Speaker Language Policy National Language Language Planning African Union 
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Copyright information

© Sue Wright 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sue Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PortsmouthUK

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