Linguistic Imperialism Revisited: An Analysis of the Role of English in Bangladesh
Abstract: English language has gained the status of being the lingua franca of today’s world. It enjoys more privileges in the territories which used to be under British rule. Bangladesh, being one such postcolonial country, emphasizes the role and importance of the English language in its education system and society. In spite of Bangla being the state language, English enjoys the privilege of being the dominant language in major domains such as education. The results of the national examinations, where the reason for failure for most of the students is lack of competence in English, only asserts the importance of English in our education. Therefore, it can be said that this privileged language is pushing Bangla to the threshold, making it a vernacular in a country where majority speaks Bangla. Consequently, it evidently creates “structural and cultural inequalities” (p. 47) within the society as asserted by Phillipson (1992) and reconfirms the notion of linguistic imperialism in the context of Bangladesh. The obvious manifestation of inequality created by the role of English language in the education system can be observed in the three mediums of schooling existing in Bangladesh which ultimately produces three categories of citizens for the country. Thus, this paper aims to discuss the current role of English in Bangladeshi education and society, and also intends to explore linguistic imperialism in 21st century Bangladesh. The paper will consider views from both proponents and critics of linguistic imperialism. It will try to come up with an answer regarding the relevance of linguistic imperialism and whether this notion should have a preference or not in this age of globalization.
Keywords: Linguistic Imperialism, Cultural Imperialism, Bangladesh, Globalization, New Perspectives
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Published in 2015