Tag: language ideology

IYIL Post 2: Settler Colonial Englishes are Distinct from Postcolonial Englishes

By Alexandra D’Arcy and Derek Denis

This paper is a little different. Instead of designing a study and coming up with a bunch of stats, D’Arcy and Denis got to thinking about the term “Postcolonial English” and its use. Their conclusion might surprise you!

This paper is great for woke bishes, epistemological hunnies, nomenclature nerds, and Indigenous scholars.

Under Investigation

the term “Postcolonial” and the study of Colonial Englishes

The term “Postcolonial Englishes” comes from Schneider (2007). He used it to describe any English that developed under any colonial system. Even though Postcolonial Englishes (PCEs) are all different from each other, Schneider thought that there might be a way to write a unifying theory about them since they all developed under the colonizers.

Taika Waititi in “What We Do in the Shadows” shakes his head in disapproval and disgust.

The Evidence

Englishes spoken in Canada, Australia, Singapore, and India

Singapore and India are no longer under English colonialism and their Englishes developed independently of English imperialism. Canada and Australia, on the other hand, are still under their settler colonial overlords. So perhaps Singapore and India could be considered PCEs, but not Canada and Australia.

So instead of the unifying theory that Schneider proposed, our authors are thinking, wait, maybe World Englishes aren’t a monolith?

Moana from the film “Moana” walks an ever-changing path

The Proposal

a new perspective

Basically, calling English post-colonial is nonsensical when the settlers are still all there. We can’t use it in Canada, the US, New Zealand, or Australia for sure. Present colonialism in these areas is called “Settler Colonialism” because there’s nothing “post” about it. Therefore, we should call the various Englishes that emerged in these places “Settler Colonial Englishes” (SCEs).

Now before you think this is just a semantics game, listen up. There are sociolinguistics implications of making this change in terminology.

Not every colony was colonized by its colonizers in the same way. For example, did you know that there are actually places where colonizers just wanted resources or trade, and the indigenous people weren’t systematically erased? India and Singapore are examples of this. In those places, the indigenous languages have a lot more influence on the varieties of English that developed.

Fred Armisen in “Documentary Now” playing Nanook of the North throws a cigarette in disdain.

Where the colonists designed policies to eradicate people, their culture, and their language, there is almost no influence of indigenous languages on their variety of English. This is because language is inseparable from culture. When the culture is imperialism, the languages reflect that.

Settler Colonialism (and the “Natural” Emergence of English Varieties)

Case study: Canada

The vast majority of indigenous languages in Canada are severely endangered because of colonial policies that prohibited their use.

“Settler Colonialism operationalizes domination as a structure, not an event necessitating the cultural, political, social, and linguistic disappearance of the Indigenous population(s).”

(Wolfe 2006, 388)
Adam Beach in the 1998 movie “Smoke Signals” explains that white people will run all over you.

Colonizers came to Canada with the intention of gaining land. They weren’t looking for people to integrate into their society or for laborers. They imposed notions of “status” and a pass system to control where indigenous people could go. They also used physical violence,  family separation, outright baby stealing (it was called the child welfare policy). This was part of an explicitly stated and successful plan to erase all aspects of Indigenous cultural identities.

That’s the textbook definition of cultural genocide. And yes, formal physical violence nominally ended decades ago, but the goal to erase indigenous people as distinct from the colonizers stands.


Ana Scotney in “The Breaker Upperers” does a bold titty pop.
A handsome gent in Ray Bans says “Acha? ok”

Sick of tables you say? Well you don’t even need to read this next one to see that there is a distinct difference between the features of Settler Colonial Englishes and Postcolonial Englishes. This isn’t a spectrum of differences, it is a binary.

It is important that we acknowledge that many of the perspectives used in academics are not just dated, but also dangerous. Failing to identify continued colonialism is a violent erasure of the indigenous cultures that were systematically dismantled under imperialist policies. And from a linguistics perspective, we can’t begin to describe World Englishes if we don’t face the cultural eradication that led to their developments. That begins with accurately identifying Settler Colonial Englishes.

Yalitza Aparicio from the hit film “Roma” shrugs and smiles adorably.

Written from the unceded Piscataway and Pamunkey land (home of the Conoy language and the extinct dialect of Nanticoke or the Eastern Algonquian family of languages).

Denis, et al. “Settler Colonial Englishes Are Distinct from Postcolonial Englishes.” American Speech, Duke University Press, 1 Feb. 2018, read.dukeupress.edu/american-speech/article-abstract/93/1/3/134811/Settler-Colonial-Englishes-Are-Distinct-from.

Schneider, Edgar W. “ Postcolonial English: Varieties around the World.” Cambridge University Press. 2007

Wolfe, Patrick. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 8, no. 4, 2006, pp. 387–409., www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14623520601056240.

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Field Notes from 2018’s Adventures in Applied Linguistics

Happy Birthday to us! We’ve been doing the bish thing for a year, so I guess we have to do that tired old practice of recapping because like Kylie, we had a big year.

TL;DR – following is a list of our plans for 2019 and a recap of what we learned in 2018.

This is a still from Kylie Jenner's 2016 New Year Resolutions video. It shows her head and shoulders with the quote "like, realizing things..."
This is a still from Kylie Jenner’s 2016 New Year Resolutions video. It shows her head and shoulders with the quote “like, realizing things…”


    1. We’re looking for guest writers. So if you know any other linguabishes, send them our way.
    2. We’re diversifying our content to include not just peer-reviewed articles in academic papers, but also conference papers, master’s theses, and whatever else strikes our fancies.
    3. We’re planning to provide more of our own ideas like in the Immigrant v. Migrant v. Expat series (posts 1, 2, and 3) and to synthesize multiple papers into little truth nuggets.
    4. Hopefully it won’t come up, but we’re not beyond dragging any other racist garbage parading as linguistics again.

Plans aside, here’s all the stuff we learned. We covered a lot of topics in 2018, so it’s broken down by theme.

Raciolinguistics and Language Ideology

We wrote 5 posts on language ideology and raciolinguistics and we gave you a new word: The Native-speakarchy. Like the Patriarchy, the Native-speakarchy must be dismantled. Hence Dismantling the Native-Speakarchy Posts 1, 2, and 3. Since we had a bish move to Ethiopia, we learned a little about linguistic landscape and language contact in two of its regional capitals. Finally, two posts about language ideology in the US touch on linguistic discrimination. One was about the way people feel about Spanish in Arizona and the other was about Spanish-English bilingualism in the American job market. 

This is a gif of J-Lo from the Dinero music video. She’s wearing black lingerie and flipping meat on a barbecue in front of a mansion. She is singing “I just want the green, want the money, want the cash flow. Yo quiero, yo quiero dinero, ay.”

Pop Culture and Emoji

But we also had some fun. Four of our posts were about pop culture. We learned more about cultural appropriation and performance from a paper about Iggy Azalea, and one about grime music. We also learned that J.K. Rowling’s portrayal of Hermione wasn’t as feminist as fans had long hoped. Finally, a paper about reading among drag queens taught that there’s more to drag queen sass than just sick burns.

Emojis aren’t a language, but they are predictable. The number one thing this bish learned about emojis though is that the methodology used to analyze their use is super confusing.

This is a gif of of the confused or thinking face emoji fading in and out of frame.

Lexicography and Corpus

We love a dictionary and we’ve got receipts. Not only did we write a whole 3-post series comparing the usages of Expat v. Immigrant v. Migrant in three different posts (1, 2, and 3), but we also learned what’s up with short-term lexicography, and made a little dictionary words for gay men in 1800’s.


These comprise a grab bag of posts that couldn’t be jammed into one of our main categories. These are lone wolf posts that you only bring home to your parents to show them you don’t care what they think. These black sheep of the bish family wear their leather jackets in the summer and their sunglasses at night.

This is a black and white gif of Rihanna looking badass in shades and some kind of black fur stole.

Dank Memes

Finally, we learned that we make the dankest linguistics memes. I leave you with these.

 Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more in 2019!

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Language ideology change over time: lessons for language policy in the U.S. state of Arizona and beyond

Those silly Brexiting kweens across the pond are making headlines (por ejemplo) about implementing an English language requirement deadline for UK residents.  While we wait for that sitch to shake out, it seems like a good time to dive into a bit of language policy research.

Shannon Fitzsimmons-Doolan’s (2018) paper examines the interplay between stakeholders’ language ideology and language policy in Arizona’s K-12 public schools. The related literature shows a chicken and egg situation in which language ideology drives language policy, but language policy affects language ideology. Arizona offers an interesting case study for unpacking this relationship.

Vamos a establecer la escena/Let’s set the scene

For those unfamiliar with the U.S. educational context, primary and secondary education policy is driven at the state rather than national level. In 2006 Arizona adopted the anti-bilingual/multilingual education policy Structured English Immersion, aka the 4 Hour Model, aka the No-Me-Gusta-People-That-Talk-Different model. English language learners (ELLs) are segregated into English language development classes for 4 hours a day until they reach proficiency on a state assessment. During this time these students are being withheld from content classes (math, science, etc.). These requirements can be particularly burdensome to older ELLs who are unable to get credits that would allow them to graduate from high school.

This policy was an outgrowth of the political climate in Arizona that had passed Proposition 203, a voter referendum that repealed bilingual education laws in 2000. While I would love to spend more time wagging my finger about English only policies, that’s not really why we are here.

El papel/The paper

Fitzsimmons-Doolan is interested in the change in language ideology of policy-influential people in Arizona from 2010 and 2016. She surveyed politically active Republicans and Democrats, teachers in districts with high ELL populations, and education administrators who manage language policy. From the 2010 survey data she identified 5 broad language ideologies: 1) pro-monolingualism, 2) pro-multilingualism, 3) English as a tool, 4) multiple languages as a problem, and 5) language as an intelligent standard. Check out the deetz in the table below (p.40). The 2016 survey measured shifts in orientation to the ideologies above by reaching out to the same group of respondents from 2010.

Los resultados/The results

Language ideology on the survey remained pretty stable over 6 years. There were statistically significant shifts away from pro-monolingualism and multiple languages as a problem, and higher positive orientation toward pro-multilingualism. However, those shifts were concentrated in the educator respondents, and not in the politically active Republicans and Democrats respondents, who exhibited little change.

you, a linguabish: why does it matter what some some random voters have to say about language policy, the teachers and administrators implement language policy

me, someone that googled a bit: recall that Arizona has ballot initiatives, including the aforementioned Prop 203, which voters passed to severely restrict bilingual education. democracy lol

It is unsurprising that the politically active Republicans and Democrats did not change their minds greatly over time. Fitzsimmons-Doolan notes that the average age of respondents in the 2016 survey was 62.3 years old, which makes sense when you consider how much more likely older generations are to consistently go out and vote. I think opinions about language are pretty baked-in for the layperson at that age. That said…maybe no news is good news?

Given the political climate of 2016 and Drumpf’s nativist rhetoric propelling him to the Republican nomination and presidency, perhaps we can be thankful the politically-active people of a fairly red state like Arizona didn’t swing *more* toward pro-monolinguism, multiple languages as a problem, and language as an intelligent standard.


While Arizona might not be ripe for reform just yet, this research shows some positive trends away from English only policies among those who work directly with language learners. Educational language policy in AZ might continue to be a hot mess for now, but don’t lose heart, linguabishes. I believe language ideology is correlated with immigration policy preferences, and the increased polarization is going both ways. As nativists and restrictionists get more vocal, they are spawning fiercer, more outspoken allies of immigrant communities. Maybe by proxy support for bilingualism and multilingualism will intensify. (Fingers crossed.)

Check this paper out if you’re a bish interested in language policy, a bilingual educator bish, or  any old, K-12 teacher bish that works with ELLs.

Fitzsimmons-Doolan, S. (2018). Language ideology change over time: lessons for language policy in the U.S. state of Arizona and beyond. TESOL Quarterly. 52 (1). 34-61.

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