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Review of  The Handbook of Language and Globalization

Reviewer: Seyda Deniz Tarim
Book Title: The Handbook of Language and Globalization
Book Author: Nikolas Coupland
Publisher: Wiley
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Anthropological Linguistics
Issue Number: 23.4374

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AUTHOR: Nikolas Coupland
TITLE: The Handbook of Language and Globalization
PUBLISHER: Wiley-Blackwell
YEAR: 2010

Şeyda D. Tarım, Department of Education, Muğla University, Turkey


Nikolas Coupland, in his introduction to “The Handbook of Language and
Globalization,” states that “globalization theory is ... more convincing when it
is more nuanced, more cautious, and more contextually refined” (p. 5). Not only
Coupland but also most of the authors in the volume hold in common the view of
studying “the tensions between sameness and difference, between centripetal and
centrifugal tendencies, and between consensus and fragmentation” (p. 5), while
re-examining the notions of context, time and space.


Coupland organizes the book under four sections. Part 1, ‘Global
Multilingualism, World Languages, and Language Systems’; Part 2, ‘Global
Discourse in Key Domains and Genres’; Part 3, ‘Language, Values, and Markets
under Globalization’; Part 4, ‘Language, Distance, and Identities’.

Under Part 1, ‘Global Multilingualism, World Languages, and Language Systems’,
there are eight chapters. In the first chapter, by Salikoko S. Mufwene,
‘Globalization, Global English, and World English(es): Myths and Facts’, we see
a historical review of globalization and the view of English as a global
language concept. In his words, “English is not even the only language of the
global economy, since manufacturers trade in different languages, making sure
that they secure profitable markets everywhere they can” (p. 47). However,
Mufwene’s views are in conflict with Abram de Swaan’s views who sees
“English…[as] the hub of the World language system…” (p. 73) in his chapter
titled ‘Language Systems’. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Robert Phillipson, in the
chapter titled ‘The Global Politics of Language: Markets, Maintenance,
Marginalization, or Murder?’, answer questions like “Why are languages
‘disappearing’?” (p. 84), and discuss the role formal education plays in this
linguistic dispossession. Ulric Ammon’s chapter ‘World Languages: Trends and
Futures’, supported by images and data, holds the view that there are ‘World
Languages’ other than English which also carry global and international meaning
and gain much more importance across different countries or territories. Thomas
Ricento, in his chapter, ‘Language Policy and Globalization’, focuses on
questions like “Can (and should) countries protect their national linguistic
resources, or should they ‘open their markets’ and promote languages such as
English in order to enhance access to technology, trade and the like?” (p. 125)
and considers the role of English in globalization. Skutnabb-Kangas & Phillipson
and Ricento share close views on this issue. Jonathan Pool’s chapter,
‘Panlingual Globalization’, mainly discusses four strategies for creating more
balanced linguistic diversity globally. Although the chapters so far mainly
focus on English, in Clare Mar-Molinero’s chapter, ‘The Spread of Global
Spanish: From Cervantes to reggaetón’, the spread of Spanish world-wide is
discussed in detail by bringing up issues like ‘Latin music’, while Brigitta
Busch’s chapter, ‘New National Languages in Eastern Europe’, tells us about the
language policies in the former Yugoslavia.

Part 2 includes chapters which provide insightful examples and discussion of
‘Global Discourse in Key Domains and Genres’. In Jannis Androutsopoulos’
chapter, ‘Localizing the Global on the Participatory Web’, how the global
discourse (key social domains) is localized is demonstrated through analyzing
web 2.0 environments, while in Theo Van Leeuwen and Usama Suleiman’s chapter,
‘Globalizing the Local: The Case of an Egyptian Superhero Comic’, the attempts
to ‘globalize’ an Egyptian superhero comic are discussed. Van Leeuwen and
Suleiman indicate that local values are being recontextualized and recreated to
be part of the globalized world. However, they are not always successful in
trading these values with others. Moreover, in Adam Jaworski and Crispin
Thurlow’s chapter, ‘Language and the Globalizing Habitus of Tourism: Toward A
Sociolinguistics of Fleeting Relationships’, the data provided demonstrate that
“language and other semiotic material are entextualized and recontextualized for
touristic purposes” (p. 277) and “these discursive formations ... establish
fleeting identities, relationships, and communities existing in the moment,
working across national and ethnic boundaries.” (p. 281). The last chapters in
this part, David Block’s chapter, ‘Globalization and Language Teaching’, Adam
Hodges’ chapter, ‘Discursive Constructions of Global War and Terror’, and
Annabelle Mooney’s chapter, ‘Has God Gone Global? Religion, Language and
Globalization’, demonstrate the impact of globalization through the detailed
analyses of discourse practices reproduced and recreated within the local
context of particular societies.

Part 3, ‘Language, Values, and Markets under Globalization’ begins with Monica
Heller’s chapter, ‘Language as Resource in the Globalized New Economy’, in which
she discusses “the commodification of language in the globalized new economy”
(p. 358) and critiques the notion of ‘language as system’. In Jan Blommaert and
Jie Dong’s chapter, ‘Language and Movement in Space’, the authors hold the view
that “the language is something trans-local: it moves along with people across
space and time” (p. 382). These two chapter are followed by Barbara Johnstone’s
chapter, ‘Indexing the Local’, Arran Stibbe’s chapter, ‘Ecolinguistics and
Globalization’, and Shi-Xu’s chapter, ‘The Chinese Discourse of Human Rights and
Glocalization’. Peter Garrett, in his chapter ‘Meanings of ‘Globalization’: East
and West’, shows how in different discourse contexts, the concept of
globalization is interpreted differently. He discusses how the people from
different regions perceive globalization. This chapter clearly represents
diverse thoughts and experiences over the meaning of globalization. Similarly,
Helen Kelly-Holmes’ chapter, ‘Languages and Global Marketing’, demonstrates how
university students from different parts of the world (Australia, China, Japan,
New Zealand, the UK and the USA) react to the notion of ‘globalization’. She
discusses global marketing and the relation between language practices and
marketing practices through examining the advertising theme “I’m lovin’ it”
(Ives 2004).

In the final part, ‘Language, Distance, and Identities’, there are eight
chapters closely analysing the relation between language and globalization,
particularly focusing on the meaning of language, construction of social
identities, and how globalization affects communication across cultures and
distances. Claire Kramsch and Elizabeth Boner’s chapter, ‘Shadows of Discourse:
Intercultural Communication in Global Contexts’, helps us to understand the
notion of ‘discourse shadow’ in global contexts -- in which shadow is described
as (in Ferguson’s 2006 words) “a kind of doubling, a copy of the original, like
a parallel economy alongside the official one, or a private irregular army
alongside the legitimate national army” (Ferguson 2006 cited in Kramsch and
Boner 2010, p. 495). Departing from the research on intercultural communication,
Kramsch and Boner’s chapter demonstrates how global society is shaped through
selective discourse practices. Kramsch and Boner state that “many of the
misunderstandings or disagreements between the participants in these exchanges
were due to a disregard for the multiple shadows of words and their discourses
in a global context of communication” (p. 513). Similar to Kramsch and Boner’s
chapter, Rakesh M. Bhatt analyses data from post-colonial South and Southeast
Asia and the parts of Anglophone Africa, to show the impact of globalization on
the construction of post-colonial identities in his chapter ‘Unraveling
Post-Colonial Identity through Language’. Ingrid Piller and Kimie Takahashi, in
their chapter ‘At the Intersection of Gender, Language, and Transnationalism’,
concentrate on gendered identities produced or reproduced in transnational
contexts. As the previous chapters in this section, Piller and Takahashi’s
chapter is also remarkably thought-provoking in terms of recognizing the key
role of the language in which “gendered identities are produced and maintained
in transnational contexts” (p. 540).

The final part continues with a collection of studies which contribute to
reconsidering the close relationship between language, distance, and social
identities; that is, how social identities gain meaning across cultures and are
influenced by distance. This part begins with William Leap’s chapter,
‘Globalization and Gay Language’ in which he examines the language practices of
non-heterosexual people. Leap demonstrates very rich examples from different
countries, clearly presenting how gay language is constructed and indexed from a
local perspective within a global context. John C. Maher focuses on the notion
of ethnicity from the “explanatory concept of metroethnic and metrolinguistic
style” (p. 577) in the chapter, ‘Metroethnicities and Metrolanguages’. Alastair
Pennycook, in his chapter ‘Popular Cultures, Popular Languages, and Global
Identities’ focuses on “the active construction of different possible worlds and
identities” (p. 593) by exploring hip-hop as a part of popular culture, in which
local and global languages are mixed. Pennycook’s study, as also the last
chapter ‘Global Media and the Regime of Lifestyle’ by David Machin and Theo Van
Leeuwen, draws attention to the point that we should consider a variety of new
identities by examining the relation between language and globalization. Lilie
Chouliaraki’s chapter, ‘Global Representations of Distant Suffering’, focuses on
images of suffering produced by media and their representations that affect
observers across the world.


The term ‘globalization’ is used in many different contexts, having plenty of
meanings and interpretations. Globalization is increasing and this increase has
larger impacts on language and social relations. This volume brings together
diverse studies in the field of language and globalization and emphasizes
various theoretical approaches displaying the interdisciplinary nature of
current language and globalization research. As a comprehensive handbook, it
provides research questions to facilitate readers’ thinking about language and
globalization and to help gain an understanding and awareness of language and
globalization issues in detail. Social actions, representations and discourse
practices having to do with language diversity, connectedness and intercultural
communication are essential in promoting the area of research for new ways of
looking at situations within local contexts in a global word. It can be noted
that the global and the local values should be seen as oppositional but mutually
exclusive and one may play an important role in completing the other.

This book does an excellent job at providing rich examples of locally created or
negotiated values and concepts which flow globally and gain new meanings and
interpretations or vice-versa.

Overall, The Handbook of Language and Globalization succeeds in providing the
reader with insightful analysis at the intersection of language and
globalization. With its broad scope and inclusion of useful research topics, the
volume can be considered as an open gate for a wider field of study and research
in sociolinguistics. It also provides a stimulating and complex picture of the
state of theory and practice in the area of language and globalization.


Ives, N. (2004) For McDonald’s, the “I’m lovin’ it” phrase of its new campaign
has crossed over into the mainstream. New York Times, May 13, 2004. Available

Şeyda Deniz Tarım is Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Muğla University, Turkey. She received her Ph.D. in Education with an interdisciplinary research emphasis of Language, Interaction and Social Organization (LISO) from Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2011). Her research interests include bilingualism, language socialization, peer socialization in children’s interactions, language and gender and qualitative methods in Education. Recently, she is coordinating research focusing on children’s peer interactions and their language practices at a university-based child center.

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