American prestige press newspapers valorize and celebrate the global hegemony of “America’s” language

These five newspapers are among the most influential in the U.S. “ and even in the world. Their coverage of the global hegemony of English both reflects, and reproduces, American Cultural Insularity in the Center (ACIC).

This abstract is for a paper published in the journal World Englishes that examines the ways in five major American newspapers — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the L.A. Times  and the Miami Herald cover the global hegemony of English. The paper itself offers an overview of my Ph.D. doctoral thesis in which I conducted a critical discourse analysis of more than 200 articles published in five American prestige press newspapers across more than a decade’s worth of time, from 1991 to 2003. The analysis found, among other things, that, in general, the newspapers valorized and celebrated the rise of English as a global language. The global hegemony of English is central to American Cultural Insularity in the Center (ACIC) as it ensures that while billions of other people around the world learn English, the dominant language in the United States, precisely because billions of others are learning English, very few English-mother tongue speakers in the U.S. learn other languages to any meaningful degree of fluency.

American “prestige press” representations of the global hegemony of English

An extensive body of scholarship exists on the complex ways in which various peoples, states, and regions outside core English‐speaking countries are being affected by, and view themselves as being affected by, the global rise of English. However the different ways in which core country elites understand and represent their unique sociolinguistic position vis‐à‐vis the global ascendancy of English has received much less attention. This paper, as does the study whose results it summarizes, pays special attention to what Schiller (2000) has described as “the American situation” with respect to the global hegemony of English. It does so by way of critical interpretation of more than 200 accounts of the global spread of English published from January 1, 1991 to May 1, 2003 in five American‐owned prestige press publications: the Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Its overall conclusion is that the prestige press representations examined frame English in terms that largely allow Americans to view the rise of English, and their apparently limited role in this phenomenon, in primarily (though not wholly) uncritical, non‐reflexive, positive, and magnanimous fashion.

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