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A Study On The Evolution Of English Hegemony

Posted on:2010-01-15Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:Q GuoFull Text:PDF
GTID:1116360272999134Subject:World History
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This dissertation is a study on the historical evolution of English Hegemony in an international relations perspective. We choose such a perspective for the international relations study is more and more history- and culture-oriented in recent years. With such orientations, the evolution of the international system is examined under the world history and the study on cultural hegemony is included. Thus the international relations perspective can provide our study a rational and stable theoretical framework: the historical evolution of the Great Britain and the United States are the significant part of modern international relations history and has determined the historical evolution of English Hegemony; the cultural hegemony theories can make us see the nature of English Hegemony; and the international system theories can make our prediction of the English Hegemony future more near to the trueness since the evolution of English Hegemony nowadays is more and more closely related with that of the international system. The significant revelation of the dissertation is that language and culture issues should be given more considerations in the field of international relations study. The realistic significance of the dissertation is: in the post-cold war era, every nation-state should pay enough attention to language and culture's role as a soft power, and to the harmony of the nation-state language with English, the global hegemonic language.Chapter 1 From British English to Colonial English: the Origin of English Hegemony"English Hegemony", as a term, is defined as followed: first, the hegemony of language is derived from the sociality of language; Second, English Hegemony is a nation-state language hegemony from the beginning till now; third, in the modern international relations theories and practice, language hegemony is an important part of cultural hegemony; fourth, the phrase"English hegemony"in this dissertation are of double meanings–"English leadership"and"English imperialism"; last, along with the historical evolution of the Britain and America, the intensions of English hegemony have been gradually deepened from geographic platform language hegemony to system language hegemony and to soft power language hegemony.Unlike Latin and some other ancient languages, the birth and rising of English at the end of the middle age had a close relation with that of England as a modern nation-state and the notion of nationalism, so from the very beginning, the fate of English is closely related with nation-state. The setting up and development of the 1st British Empire in the 18th century was an important period for the origin of English Hegemony. At the end of the 17th century, English, as a newly standardized nation-state language, stepped out of the gate of England and started its process of overseas colonization together with the empire. A basic geographic platform of English was then set up. Meanwhile, the necessary colonial governing and the outstanding trading achievement made by the 1st Empire as a Mercantile Empire made English a lingua franca in the political administration system, international economy and trade system. Thus the geographic platform language hegemony and system language hegemony of English were initiated.Chapter 2"Sun-never-sets"Empire and"Sun-never-sets"English: the Establishment of English HegemonyIn the 18th -19th century, with the setting up and development of the 2nd British Empire, English stepped into its rapid expanding period. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, when the 2nd Empire was at its peak of power, the empire covered world-wide areas. The geographic platform hegemony of English was then set up which covered all those areas. Meanwhile, the political, economic and trading, educational, communicating technology and cultural systems of the 2nd Empire were spread all over the world through its colonies, which had decisive impacts on the formation of most of the nowadays nation-state countries and their various systems. English, as the lingua franca of all these systems, successfully set up its system language hegemony. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, most of the newly independent countries from the British Empire chose English as their official language or half of their official language. English Hegemony didn't decline with the collapse of the British Empire; instead, its hegemonic position stepped forward one more step. Without the British Empire's colonial expansion, there would have been no geographic platform language hegemony and no system language hegemony of English.Chapter 3 From British English to American English: the Tranfering of English HegemonyAfter a short period of declination in the first half of the 20th century, English Hegemony came back in a new form– American English. It was America who saved it this time. The independence and development of the American English also had a close relation with the formation and development of the United States of America as a new nation. Although America, with its rising and expansion of its power, also set up some colonies and brought American English to those colonies, the geographic platform language hegemony of English set up by the British Empire has been almost complete; and although America very successfully exported a series of economic and financial systems through the safety and economy systems set up by America after the 2nd World War, America was much more successful in exporting its values, life styles and mass culture. The American English, as the medium of mass culture, (such as movie, TV programs and music) spread at an unprecedented speed and scale through the media market. During the cold war, in order to withstand the communism camp led by the former Soviet Union, the USA carried out the"cultural penetration"policy. According to the soft power theory put forward by Joseph Nye, the"cultural penetration"policy, which included the constituting and implementing of the official"cultural strategy"and the American mass media and mass culture, was a significant source of soft power during the cold war and played an important role for the capitalism camp led by USA to finally win the cold war. The implement of the"cultural penetration"policy during the war greatly helped the penetration of American English. At the end of the cold war, English Hegemony was reestablished by the American power. Based on the geographic platform language hegemony and system language hegemony, the newly established English hegemony had deepened into a soft power language hegemony, although still in its initial status during the cold war.Chapter 4 English as Soft Power under the American Hegemony: the New Phase of English HegemonyIn the post-cold war era, the American hegemony didn't decline at all as some scholars predicted. Instead, it was consolidated. American hegemony transformed from military- political centered to economic- cultural centered. The role of soft power becomes so important, that it becomes a part of the American comprehensive national strength. Under such a transformed American hegemony, a great amount of information industries and related service industries emerge and the super-American media groups expand all over the world. All these have one obvious feature: depending more and more on the use of language. The globalization accelerated by the Information Revolution help English reglobalize. Compared with the globalization of English during the British Empire, the reglobalization is much faster, wider, deeper and more acceptable because of the change of spreading method. English's role as a soft power has also been re-enforced and deepened, for it not only promotes the American culture but also elevates the American comprehensive national strength. Based on the soft power theory of Joseph Nye, we put forward the soft power language hegemony theory in this dissertation and try to prove its rationality from the language's interactive relations with thoughts and culture. The soft power language hegemony theory reflects the gradually deepening process of English hegemony from geographic platform language hegemony to system language hegemony and to soft power language hegemony.Chapter 5 Reflection on the Historical Evolution of English Hegemony: Challenges and Future Vision of English HegemonyAs a nation-state language hegemony, the imperial nature of English Hegemony comes from the resource power and structure power it possesses and the mutual transformation. It leads to a structural and systematic inequality. Such an inequality is established on the base of political and economic hegemony of western English-speaking countries, and forms a"center– periphery"pattern that is parallel with the one formed by nation-state hegemony. In the post-cold war era, with the deepening process of globalization accelerated by the Information Revolution, English Hegemony, as a soft power language hegemony of USA, is now facing many changes. The future of English Hegemony will be greatly determined by the evolution of international system. Based on the international system theories, we cautiously predict the future of English Hegemony: English Hegemony will not decline in near future, but the language itself will be greatly changed and the British English and American English will no longer be the only language standards; its monopoly position will be replaced by oligopoly consisting of some regional hegemonic languages; meanwhile, English Hegemony becoming the lingua franca of non-nation state actors may mean the change of its nature as nation-state language hegemony. For China and Chinese, we should actively exert the role of Chinese and Chinese culture as a soft power and as a comprehensive nation strength during the growing up process of China; at the same time, we should actively accept, spread and reform English.
Keywords/Search Tags:English Hegemony, an international relations perspective, geographic platform language hegemony, system language hegemony, soft power language hegemony, cultural hegemony, international system
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