Dr. Robert Phillipson, Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

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Dignity and justice for all of us

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Dil Hakları
. . .

Lingvaj Rajtoj - Derechos Lingüísticos - الحقوق اللغوية - Droits Linguistiques - ЯЗЫКОВЫЕ ПРАВА - Linguistic Rights - 语言权 - 언어권리

Dr. Robert Phillipson
Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark

Dr. Robert Phillipson's
registered publications at CBS:

Publications List 2022 (PDF) - (archived version 24.10.2022)

Dr. Robert Phillipson, Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

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TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages)
International Convention & English Language Expo
Atlanta, Georgia, USA. 12-15 March 2019

TESOL 2019:
Professionalism and myths in TESOL

by Robert Phillipson


TESOL 2019. Professionalism and myths in TESOL. TESOL, an 'international association', and its 'global partner' the British Council, pursue government-defined goals. How professionally defensible is dispatching English native speakers worldwide when under-qualified linguistically and culturally? English teaching in national education systems presupposes bilingual, bicultural competence, including translation and metalinguistic knowledge. Myth-making about 'global' English needs constant debunking.

If TESOL is to function optimally, it needs to scrutinise carefully the terminology used and claims made for English as a 'global' language, and the consequences that follow from what are generally myths.

    Myth One - international schools and universities
'International' schools are mushrooming in cities in many countries that do not qualify as 'English-speaking'. There is a related growth of English-medium universities in the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere. Why are both types of institution called 'international' when the educational content is exported from the USA or the UK, and when the language of instruction is the dominant national language of the USA or the UK, and often delivered by monolingual teachers and professors. 'International' is a misnomer.
    Consequences: this export business serves the interests of an elite class nationally and internationally. Local languages are given little if any support. International schools prepare for entry to universities in the US and UK. Their products are effectively detached from local concerns and needs.

    Myth Two - English is a global need
English is marketed as though it is universally needed by the US state (Obama's 'English for all') and by the para-statal British Council. Its language policy advice (David Graddol's reports 2006, 2010), led its Executive Director to insist that, for instance in India, English should be used in every classroom, office and home (Phillipson 2016a).
    Consequence: This advocacy ignores the local ecology, culture, and languages, but provides a boost for the British and US economies and international influence. The myth is a diversion from the real needs of the world's under-privileged.

    Myth Three - British English is necessary for development
The 'aid' or 'development' business was denounced by Ivan Illich half a century ago in relation to US activity throughout the Americas, but English is still marketed as a necessity for economic and social development by the British Council (Howson 2013), an organisation which advises governments worldwide on education in general, and English learning in particular. The presumptuous assumption is that the UK has the solution to local needs.
    Consequence: the under-development of the colonial era continues in the neo-colonial age that structurally favours the global North at the expense of the global South, the majority world.

    Myth Four - Anglo-American textbooks are universally appropriate
Teaching materials from 'global' publishers (e.g. Pearson, Macmillan, Routledge, Oxford University Press et al) are assumed to have content and language that is appropriate for school systems worldwide. The 2018 Annual Report from Cambridge University Press states that its 'Education group publishes print and digital products for use in schools, with strong positions in Australia, Africa, India and in international schools around the world. Our reputation for developing international best practice in pedagogy and learning skills means we also have an advisory practice helping governments and schools systems with educational reform.'
    Consequence: this myth creates and consolidates new forms of imperial dependence, cultural, educational, linguistic and commercial, to the advantage of the corporate world and its shareholders, and to academia in the UK & US, and generally to the disadvantage of local publishers and academia.

    Myth Five - English only in international affairs
English is proclaimed as the lingua franca of science, business, globalisation, European and Asian integration, national unity in multilingual states, international understanding, etc. This fraudulent myth implies that no other languages serve such purposes.
    Consequences: the myth privileges English in education. The learning of other foreign languages (whether European, Asian, African, or Latin American) is hindered. Proficiency in English entrenches an inequitable hierarchy in international communication at the expense of users of other languages.

    Myth Six - All relevant scholarship is written in English
The prevalence of publication in English has led to this myth. The policies of the major academic publishers encourage the notion that only publishing in English counts. There is though a vast output of research in many languages. A recent analysis of Google Scholar documents by Cambridge academics shows that in one scientific field 64.4% are in English (Amano, González-Varo, and Sutherland, 2016). In most areas of scholarship, including language education and language policy, other languages are also used.
    Consequence: knowledge generated in other languages is marginalized, which is also to the detriment of monolingual English-using science. Quantifying research output, and ranking systems, serve to unjustly strengthen inequality between users of different languages.

    Myth Seven - Global language tests are objective and valid worldwide
The main testing instruments that emanate from the USA (TOEFL) and UK/Australia (IELTS) are projected as culturally neutral and universally appropriate, a scientifically and morally dubious claim.
    Consequence: testing is big business, but has limitations: 'Most testers have a feeling that their tests are not sufficiently accurate (...) there is a fundamental conflict between the needs of good assessment practice on the one hand, and sound financial management and good business practice on the other' (Buck 2009, 181, 177, on the anthology in question see Phillipson 2010). This raises ethical problems for TESOL.

    Myth Eight - the internationalisation of TESOL and ELT is apolitical
When a national professional association becomes 'international' (as TESOL has), the myth is that our professionalism is globally relevant and divorced from educational, cultural, and linguistic imperialism. Whether activities are or are not imperialist needs to be analysed, empirically verified. One instance: the British ELT Journal is about 'the ways in which English is taught and learnt around the world'. It has a seven-person advisory board to guide 'the development of the Journal': three academics, two from publishing (Oxford University Press), one is a British Council officer, one from a British professional association, IATEFL (https://academic.oup.com/eltj/pages/About). Whatever their personal qualities, this board is a cocktail of academic, commercial, and political interests. Is this compatible with academic freedom?

Some conclusions

All eight myths seem to be alive and kicking, despite some awareness of their invalidity.

  Ahmar Mahboob: there is a need for an overhaul of 'key assumptions made in the applied linguistics and TESOL literature' (cited in Phillipson 2016b, 2016c)

  Ruanni Tupas: an exclusive focus on English-medium education fails unless it is integrated within local multilingual realities.

  Mary Shepard Wong, Icy Lee, and Andy Gao: a monolingual approach to the trilingual education that is needed in Hong Kong (Cantonese, Mandarin, and English) is inappropriate because monolingual native speakers are limited 'linguistically, pedagogically, and professionally' (cited in Phillipson 2016b, 2016c).

  John Knagg, when Senior Adviser to the British Council: Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTs) 'should be increasingly multilingual, multicultural and expert'. However, the book in which this comment appears reveals that NESTs generally lack these qualifications. Why are they still active worldwide? Knagg provides part of the answer by conceding that installing an 'appropriate linguistic model' of British English for a 'global ELT profession' has the goal of promoting British interests worldwide (citations from Phillipson 2016b, 2016c).

It is more than likely that US language promotion worldwide has comparable goals. Is this what the globalization of English is all about? Do we wish to believe in these myths? Are the consequences ethically and professionally acceptable?


- Amano, Tatsuya, Juan P. González-Varo, and William J. Sutherland (2016). Languages are still a major barrier to global science. PLoS Biol 14(12): e2000933. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000933.
- Buck , Gary 2009. Challenges and constraints in language test development. In The politics of language education, ed. Charles Alderson. Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 166-184.
- Graddol, David 2006. English next: Why global English may mean the end of 'English as a Foreign Language'. London: The British Council.
- Graddol, David 2010. English next India. London: British Council.
- Howson, Paul 2013. See: http://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/britishcouncil.uk2/files/english-effect-report.pdf. Accessed 28 February 2015.
- Illich, Ivan 1968. To hell with good intentions. See http://www.swaraj.org/illich_hell.htm.
- Phillipson, Robert 2010. The politics and the personal in language education: the state of which art? Review article on The politics of language education. Individuals and institutions, edited by J. Charles Alderson. Language and education, 24/2, 151-166.
- Phillipson, Robert 2016a. Promoting English: Hydras old and new. In Why English? Confronting the Hydra, ed. Bunce, Pauline, Robert Phillipson, Vaughan Rapatahana, and Ruanni. F. Tupas. Bristol: Multilingual Matters , 35-46.
- Phillipson, Robert 2016b. Native speakers in linguistic imperialism. Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies, volume 14, number 3 (December), 80-96,
- Phillipson, Robert 2016c. Book review of LETs and NESTs: Voices, views and vignettes, ed. Fiona Copland, Sue Garton and Steve Mann (2016. London: British Council). In Canadian Modern Language Review, Revue Canadienne des Langues Vivantes, 72/4, 572-574.
- Tupas, Ruanni 2018. (Un)framing language policy and reform in Southeast Asia. RELC Journal 49/2, 149-163.

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Texte | Vidéo . . . English | Esperanto | Français | . . .

La domination de l'anglais:
un défi pour l'Europe

Robert Phillipson

Préface de François Grin.

Elisabeth Barbay, Bernard Cornevin, Marcelle Provost
Paris: Libre & Solidaire, 2019

Ce livre explore le rôle des langues dans le processus d'intégration européenne; il met en avant les mesures à prendre pour éviter de nous diriger vers une Europe uniquement anglaise et américaine. La manière dont l'Union européenne traitera le multilinguisme aura d'importantes conséquences pour les pays membres et les relations internationales: le respect des langues de chaque pays doit être au cœur du développement d'une Europe unie. Il est donc primordial de se demander si l'expansion actuelle de l'anglais ne représente pas une menace sérieuse pour les autres langues européennes.

Après avoir exploré les implications des politiques actuelles, l'auteur plaide en faveur de politiques linguistiques plus actives pour la sauvegarde d'une Europe multilingue.

En s'appuyant sur des exemples de pays ayant des politiques linguistiques explicites, le livre propose une politique linguistique inclusive pour l'Europe, donnant des pistes pour y parvenir avec des recommandations concrètes sur la manière dont la politique linguistique européenne pourrait être mieux gérée.

Paru en 2003 sous le titre English-Only Europe?, l'auteur a réactualisé l'ouvrage en incluant les dernières actualités des politiques linguistiques des différents pays d'Europe. La préface à l'édition française est de François Grin, universitaire suisse, codirecteur du Centre européen pour les questions de minorités.

→ Activités autour de la parution du livre de Robert Phillipson:
La domination de l'anglais: un défi pour l'Europe

Trois conférences-débats:

1) Le Lundi 11 mars de 17h à 20h au Palais du Luxembourg (Sénat), salle René Coty.
Pour les personnes qui veulent assister à cette conférence il suffit d'envoyer un courriel à bernard.cornevin@gmail.com avant le jeudi 7 mars en donnant leur nom, prénom, le cas échéant fonction, et disant qu'ils assisteront à la conférence de Robert Phillipson. Une pièce d'identité sera demandée à l'entrée.

Robert Phillipson avait publié en 2003 un livre "English only Europe" challenging language policy", traduit ensuite en espéranto "Ĉu nur angla Eŭropo?". En 2019 une nouvelle version mise à jour est publiée en français "La domination de l'anglais, un défi pour l'Europe". Cette vidéo présente la conférence de l'auteur au Palais du Luxembourg, le 11 mars 2019, avec la participation de Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, sénatrice et ancienne vice-présidente du Parlement européen, de François Grin, économiste, professeur à l'université de Genève, de Jean-Paul Barriolade, l'éditeur du livre, et de Marcelle Provost, l'une des traductrices du livre. - https://youtu.be/96XeZRt__zg -

La domination de l'anglais - un défi pour l'Europe - Robert Phillipson.
Conférence-débat, 11 mars 2019, Paris, Palais du Luxembourg (Sénat) - PDF

2) Le Mardi 12 mars de 19.30 h à 22h au plus tard à Mundolingua, 10 rue Servandoni, Paris 6ème.

3) Le Mercredi 13 mars de 18h30 à 21h environ à la librairie Le Maltais rouge, 40 rue de Malte, Paris 11ème.

De plus, une librairie du 13 ème, Les lettres du temps, 19 rue Campo-Formio 75013 Paris, propose une séance de signatures le mardi 12 mars de 16h à 18h.

"Dans une période de crise culturelle et politique de l'Union européenne, la traduction française du livre de Robert Phillipson arrive à point nommé. Il met l'accent sur ce qui est le nœud central qui peut relier le maintien d'une culture européenne originelle et le sentiment d'une justice sociale à l'œuvre : la langue. Ou plutôt, les langues." - Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde, Professeur d'Économie, Université Paris 2.

"Ce livre passionnant représente une contribution incontournable à l'analyse de l'hégémonie linguistique, idéologique, économique et culturelle de "l'industrie" de la langue anglaise. Les arguments minutieusement développés fournissent des armes irréfutables pour la "défense et illustration" de toutes les autres langues, y compris, bien entendu, le français." - Hugo Baetens Beardsmore, Professeur, Université Libre de Bruxelles.

"Cet ouvrage est précieux, et même indispensable. Il aborde une série de questions trop souvent évitées ou éludées, alors même que nombre d'Européens se les posent: pourquoi l'anglais jouit-il, en Europe, d'une position tellement privilégiée? Est-ce nécessaire? Est-ce justifié? Est-ce inévitable?" - François Grin, Professeur, Université de Genève.

Ce livre explore le rôle des langues dans le processus d'intégration européenne. Après avoir examiné les implications des politiques actuelles, l'auteur plaide en faveur de politiques linguistiques plus actives pour la sauvegarde d'une Europe multilingue, condition d'une Europe unie. Paru initialement sous le titre English-only Europe? Challenging language policy, le livre a été actualisé et enrichi.

Robert Phillipson, d'origine britannique, est Directeur de recherche à l'École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Copenhague. Spécialiste des droits linguistiques, de l'impérialisme linguistique, et de l'enseignement, il a reçu le prix Linguapax décerné par l'UNESCO.

Flyer / PDF: La domination de l'anglais: un défi pour l'Europe. Robert Phillipson. Paris: Libre & Solidaire, 2019

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Is 'global' English a neoimperialist project?
Robert Phillipson and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

Lecture jointly organised by the Centre for Languages and Literature
and Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET) at Lund University.
Wednesday 15 February 2017.

Is 'global' English compatible with local language ecologies and principles of language rights, or a neoimperialist project?
The forces behind 'global' English and its increased use at all levels of education in many countries need critical scrutiny. English is fraudulently marketed by the British and American governments, with World Bank complicity, as though it is a universal 'basic skill'. It conflates English with development, and in reality aims at consolidating Anglo-American power. There are clear examples of this in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. This contemporary surge represents a variant of worldwide efforts to eliminate the languages of Indigenous peoples and linguistic minorities. Such policies can be seen as a crime against humanity and constituting linguistic genocide. Creating a balance between dominant languages, nationally and internationally, and maintaining the vitality of local, minority and Indigenous language ecologies and principles of linguistic human rights is a major challenge, in South Asian countries as elsewhere.

Video: Lecture by Robert Phillipson (0:00 - 33:30), Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (34:00 - 1:14:47)

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Language policy and the politics of language in Europe
Les politiques linguistiques européennes.

Robert Phillipson
Copenhagen Business School - Handelshøjskole i København

Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,
Genève, vendredi 13 mai 2016:
"Quelle(s) langue(s) pour une Europe démocratique?"
Organisé par l'Amicale des étudiants francophones (AMEF)

→ PowerPoint presentation | → PDF version

Suggestions for further reading, Robert Phillipson, May 2016, Genève

See also: www.linguistic-rights.orgEvents:
"Quelle(s) langue(s) pour une Europe démocratique?"
Robert Phillipson (Copenhagen Business School), Mehdi Boussebaa (University of Bath),
Helder De Schutter (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Daniel Elmiger (Université de Genève).

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English, the lingua nullius of global hegemony

Robert Phillipson

ESF Research Networking Programme.
Responding to Complex Diversity in Europe and Canada (RECODE).

The politics of multilingualism:
linguistic governance, globalisation and Europeanisation
Université de Genève, 19-20 June 2014


Worrying social trends reveal serious unjust and undemocratic features in 'democratic' societies. There are comparable problems in the management of EU affairs, including its multilingualism. The trends correlate with an increased use of English in globalisation, neoliberalism, and greater European integration. One can trace a transition from European colonisation worldwide, ostensibly justified by the Western myth of terra nullius, to worldwide penetration of American imperialism as a cultura nullius, in McDonaldisation processes in many social functions that accompany military and economic empire. English is now increasingly marketed as a necessity, internalised as though it serves all equally well, a lingua nullius. Some European Commission initiatives accord linguicist priority to English, or argue for it as a seemingly neutral lingua franca, in effect a lingua nullius. This obscures the forces behind the power of English. Its hegemony has serious implications for speakers of other languages and their cultures.

The operation of the supranational EU system, and of EU-funded activities in member states, builds on 'integration through law' (treaties) and the evolution of novel forms of linguistic governance. Judgements of the European Court of Justice not only interpret law but are teleological: they extend supranational law and the scope of the common market. A quite different example of the extension of English linguistic hegemony is the way EU administration of post-conflict Bosnia has failed to achieve its goal of creating a viable state, but has established English as a new language of power. Noble human rights aims are aspired to, but international relations are subordinate to the forces behind corporate empire, a project that unites the USA and EU, and that dovetails with a project to establish 'global English'. The failure to create more just societies and to substantiate deliberative democratic principles confirms the analysis of scholars who assess that 'international relations' are pathologically inadequate, and that we have reached the 'endtimes' of human rights. English in global and EU governance strengthens particular interests that are obscured by the myth of it as a lingua nullius. Existential language policy issues should not be consigned to the mercy of the market. [...]

Download the full article as PDF

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Linguistic imperialism of and in the European Union

Robert Phillipson

To appear in Revisiting the European Union as an empire
ed. Hartmut Behr and Jannis Stivachtis,
Critical European Studies, Routledge


The article tracks the transition from the transportation of European peoples and languages to other continents to the establishment of a world order underpinned by US military and economic might worldwide. The myth of 'terra nullius', unoccupied land outside Europe, has been succeeded by an expansion of the cultural universe of the USA (as a 'cultura nullius') and English. English is fraudulently marketed as a 'lingua nullius', as though it serves all equally well. Linguistic imperialism permeates EU institutional activities and their outreach. Churchill explicitly advocated US and UK dominance globally through military, economic and language policies. Globalisation and global English are interlocking projects. The formation of the EU was a joint US and European project. The role of the European Court of Justice in advancing European integration and neoliberalism is documented. Many European Commission initiatives like the Bologna process strengthen English in continental Europe. This authoritarian executive managerialism is undemocratic. Linguistic imperialism has many push and pull variables. Loose reference to English as a 'lingua franca' in political and academic discourse conceals the role of English as the neoimperial language of the transnational global corporate class of US-NATO-EU empire. [...]

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Promoting English: Hydras old and new

Robert Phillipson

Forthcoming in Why English? Confronting the Hydra
Paualine Bunce, Robert Phillipson, Vaughan Rapatahana and T. Ruanni F. Tupas (eds.)
Bristol: Multilingual Matters

Until the 16th century, English was the language of an obscure island in northern Europe. Military aggression in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland was followed by vigorous attempts to eliminate all languages other than English throughout the British Isles, with only partial success. People of British origin who settled in the Americas and Australasia imposed similar policies, with disastrous consequences for local languages. This English Hydra is still vigorously alive worldwide. However, intriguingly, the monster is understood by many as a universal need in the modern world. This misunderstanding obscures the reality that English opens doors for the few and closes them for the many. English plays a central role in servicing a capitalist system that serves the interests of a tiny fraction of the world's population. The wealth of the transnational elite accumulates in ethically indefensible offshore banks, while the rest of the world attempts to survive onshore. In countries known as 'English-speaking', a label that airbrushes speakers of many other languages, the rich have become much richer in recent decades, while conditions for the rest of the population have deteriorated. The English-language Hydra services this injustice at home and abroad. [...]

Download the full article as PDF

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Churchill 1943 - 2013

Reactions by Robert Phillipson to Winston Churchill's speech
when receiving an honorary doctorate at Harvard University in 1943

Download as PDF

Churchill's first major point is support for USA global dominance. It is camouflaged as 'world responsibility'. In 1943 the British Empire was seriously weakened, British success in the Second World War was dependent on the American war machine, and the British economy was dependent on massive loans from the USA.

Secondly, Churchill sees the UK and USA as linked by 'blood and history', blood in Churchill's case being a reference to his American mother. It is factually correct that links between the two countries have been close throughout history.

Churchill sees the two nations as united by 'law, language, and literature', exemplified by morality, justice, fair play, and support for the weak. Kipling is cited with approval, but Kipling had no illusions about injustice in the USA: he 'never got over the wonder of a people who, having extirpated the aboriginals of their continent more completely than any other modern race had done, honestly believed they were a godly New England community, setting examples to brutal Mankind'. Churchill was a great believer in the British Empire, and the right of the British and Americans to colonise other peoples.

Thirdly, he stresses that in the war effort, American, British and Canadian forces have a joint command. He proposes that this should continue after the war, and only cease once a global system for peace maintenance has been established. The United Nations was soon established for this purpose, but in a form that maintained the principle of the permanent members of the Security Council, including the USA and UK, playing a decisive role. This they still do.

The Bismarck quote about the UK and US being connected by a joint language, and this factor being of global significance, has been cited by many, but is probably apocryphal. There is in fact no evidence of him making this observation. The reality is that the UK has since 1945 been a client state of the USA, like most European countries. There has always been a lack of symmetry in the USA/UK 'special relationship', even if there was close coordination between Roosevelt and Churchill, Reagan and Thatcher, Bush II and Blair. The USA decides unilaterally what it wants, and the UK follows. Blair was misguided enough to believe he could influence Bush - he could not.

Fourthly, a key issue in Churchill's speech is his articulation of a plan for English as a globally dominant language worldwide: "This gift of a common tongue is a priceless inheritance, and it may well some day become the foundation of a common citizenship… I do not see why we should not try to spread our common language even more widely throughout the globe and, without seeking selfish advantage over any, possess ourselves of this invaluable amenity and birthright."

There are many points tucked into these sentences:

- Churchill's advocacy of a potential 'common citizenship' has affinities with the vision of Cecil Rhodes, who bequeathed the vast fortune made in the gold mines of South Africa to fund activities to cement links between the USA and UK. His legacy funds the Rhodes scholarships, which are still very active (Bill Clinton is a typical beneficiary). Rhodes' purpose was to promote Anglo-American dominance worldwide. He also envisaged the USA rejoining the United Kingdom that it broke away from in 1776. Churchill foresees the two societies merging, and pleads for more intensified contacts to facilitate this. In the same spirit he Margaret Thatcher think tank in Washington DC has as its goal the promotion of US/UK dominance worldwide.

- Churchill outlines a plan to spread the English language throughout the world, a task that is projected as being a 'birthright' of English speakers. This ridiculous claim is straightforward imperialism. He also claims that it would not represent gaining any advantage over others, which all evidence of British and American colonisation worldwide contradicts.

- He sees 'Basic English' as a key means of achieving the global spread of English, this simplified form of the language being a stepping-stone towards command of the full language and the interests it represents. To flatter Harvard University, Churchill praises it for promoting Basic English, although the key person doing this was in fact a British scholar, I. A. Richards, an influential literature professor, who taught at both Harvard and Cambridge. Richards also strongly argued that learning English was a key route to people thinking like the British (see my Linguistic Imperialism Continued, 2009, pages 114-116 and 168 for a detailed analysis, as well as similar analysis in Linguistic imperialism, 1992, pages 166-169). Basic English never caught on seriously, but since the 1950s the promotion and expansion of English worldwide has been a key dimension of American and British policy.

- Churchill projects worldwide English as though the language would serve all equally well - which is manifestly not the case - and he specifically envisages the promotion of English being integrated with the peace-keeping institutions of the future.

The key themes of the entire speech - UK/US unity, military collaboration, plans for global peace-keeping, US/UK global dominance and global English - all lead to this conclusion: "Such plans offer far better prizes than taking away other people's provinces or lands or grinding them down in exploitation. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind." Churchill was able to accurately anticipate how different the world would be after World War Two. He argues that Britain and the USA should seize the initiative in influencing how the world would be shaped. Much of the evidence since 1945 indicates that Churchill's ideas have had a decisive influence on the modern world.

In 1950 Churchill was awarded an honorary doctorate by another university, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The declared reasons for granting the award were Churchill's accomplishments as a historian and his key role in battling against Hitler in the Second World War. This ultimately ensured the end of five years of German occupation of Denmark.

The speech that Churchill gave in Copenhagen was very different from what he said at Harvard in 1943. He makes profound observations about the role of the university:

"The first duty of a university is to teach wisdom, not to train, and to confirm character and not impart technicalities. We want a lot of engineers in the modern world, but we do not want a world of engineers. We want some scientists, but we must make sure that science is our servant and not our master… No amount of technical knowledge can replace the comprehension of the humanities or the study of history and philosophy.

The advantages of the nineteenth century, the literary age, have been largely put aside by this terrible twentieth century with all its confusion, exhaustion, and bewilderment of mankind. This is a time when a firm grip on all the essential verities and values of humanity and civilization should be the central care of the universities of Europe and the world".

Alas, this humanist vision of the role of universities has been gravely undermined in recent decades. Governments are not concerned with "wisdom". Following the example of the USA and UK, governments worldwide are increasingly forcing universities to graduate technocrats and technicians who are ignorant of "history and philosophy", not to seek wisdom or think independently. Churchill's engineers have been replaced by economists committed to neoliberalism, as have politicians. The USA and UK are not committed to peace-keeping but to wars of aggression in conflict with international law. The empires of the present - in which English continues to play a decisive role - are inhumane.

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Robert Phillipson about European Union language policy

Dr. Robert Phillipson, Photo by Stefano Keller, May 2009
Dr. Robert Phillipson
Photo: © Stefano Keller 2009

Download the interview
(pdf version, in a new window)
Version française de l'interview

Renato Corsetti interviews Robert Phillipson about European Union language policy in the light of his 2003 book "English-only Europe? Challenging language policy" (translated by István Ertl into Esperanto, 2004).

Please note that the interview was conducted on Skype. This explains the difference in volume between the two speakers, and the slow speed at which Robert Phillipson was speaking.

Prof. Renato Corsetti, Universala Esperanto-Asocio (UEA). Photo by Stefano Keller
Prof. Renato Corsetti
Universala Esperanto-Asocio
Photo: © Stefano Keller 2008

Robert Phillipson: English-Only Europe? Challenging Language Policy Robert Phillipson: Ĉu nur-angla Eŭropo? Defio al lingva politiko - tradukis István Ertl

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Dr. Robert Phillipson's new book (2009):
Linguistic Imperialism Continued
Robert Phillipson: Linguistic Imperialism Continued (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group)

Order your copy of the book / See the flyers:

Robert Phillipson: Linguistic Imperialism Continued (UK order form)
UK (pdf)
Robert Phillipson: Linguistic Imperialism Continued (US order form)
US (pdf)

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L'imperialismo linguistico inglese continua (2011)
di Robert Phillipson, professore emerito della Copenhagen Business School
L'Associazione Radicale Esperanto (E.R.A.) ONLUS presenta l'edizione italiana, a cura dell'E.R.A., del libro "L'imperialismo linguistico inglese continua" di Robert Phillipson. L'Associazione Radicale Esperanto (E.R.A.) ONLUS presenta l'edizione italiana, a cura dell'E.R.A., del libro "L'imperialismo linguistico inglese continua" di Robert Phillipson.

Download the cover

L'Associazione Radicale Esperanto (E.R.A.) ONLUS presenta l'edizione italiana, a cura dell'E.R.A., del libro "L'imperialismo linguistico inglese continua" di Robert Phillipson.

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Entrevista a Robert Phillipson
Catedràtic emèrit en el departament d'estudis internacionals del
llenguatge i lingüísitica computacional, a la Copenhagen Business School
(UOC - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, 2010)

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The spread of English as a global language
and its impact on cultures and diversity

Interview on Al Jazeera

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Publication July 2009:

Social Justice Through Multilingual Education
Edited by: Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, Ajit K. Mohanty
ISBN: 1-84769-189-7 * ISBN: 978-1-84769-189-7


The principles for enabling children to become fully proficient bilinguals through schooling are well known. Even so, most children from minorities – indigenous, tribal, the marginalised – are not provided with appropriate mother-tongue based education. Experts from many parts of the world show how it can be done successfully. The book presents general principles in depth and case studies of successfully meeting the challenges of minority education in Canada and the USA, northern Europe, Peru, Africa, India, Nepal and elsewhere in Asia. Analysis by leading scholars in the field shows the importance of building on local experience. Sharing local solutions globally can lead to better theory, and more social justice and equality through education.

Advance Information from Multilingual Matters

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ROJ TV (Kurdish satellite TV), Ruwange, 29 08 2005
Hesen Qazi
Interview (2) with Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
about Linguistic genocide in education, linguistic diversity,
the case of Kurdish language.
Voiceover in Sorani Kurdish کوردی (Kurdî)

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ROJ TV (Kurdish satellite TV), Ruwange, 15 08 2005
Hesen Qazi
Interview with Dr. Robert Phillipson:
Languages in European Union, Turkey's quest for EU membership
and the state of Kurdish language.
Voiceover in Sorani Kurdish کوردی (Kurdî)

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ROJ TV (Kurdish satellite TV), Ruwange, 01 08 2005
Hesen Qazi
Interview (1) with Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
about bilingualism and its positive effects on learning process.
Voiceover in Sorani Kurdish کوردی (Kurdî)

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Dr. Robert Phillipson, Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Website, publications: www.cbs.dk/en/staff/rpmsc
* https://www.cbs.dk/en/staff/rpmsc *

Dr. Robert Phillipson, Professor Emeritus
Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark

Website: www.cbs.dk/en/staff/rpmsc

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