The many names of English

Erling, Elizabeth (2005). The many names of English. English Today, 21(1) pp. 40–44.



A discussion of the variety of labels given to the language in its worldwide role. In his article 'Is it world or international or global English, and does it matter?' (ET79, Jul 04), Tom McArthur welcomes further comment on the names of English in a 'globalizing world'. He examines the histories and meanings of the three most popular labels for English: world, international and global. In addition to discussing his contribution, I would like to draw attention to other, perhaps less familiar names for English that have been proposed as alternatives. This paper seeks both to survey these labels and uncover why there is such a strong compulsion to rename the language. I suggest that these proposals have arisen in response to postcolonial ambiguity about the spread of English and a desire to shape a new ideology for English language teaching (ELT) which more accurately reflects the global nature of the language and its diverse uses and users.

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