The English language currently enjoys a position of considerable prestige in China. Although English is – for most people in the country – a foreign language, it is used for a variety of professional, academic, legal and social functions (Gil and Adamson 2011). It also occupies an important place in the education system. The status ascribed to English has produced a “mania” for learning the language (Tang 1983; Lam 2005; Adamson 2004), leading to some concerns that the cultural integrity of the state might be endangered (Gil and Adamson 2011). Historically, however, English has enjoyed mixed fortunes. The first encounters, in southern China, were hostile, with only a few Chinese outcasts being permitted to learn the barbarian tongue for the purposes of trade; but by the turn of the twentieth century, even the last emperor was studying English (Adamson 2004). Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, English was either embraced or shunned according to the political weathervane (Ross 1992; Adamson 2004). Overall, English has been assimilated into Chinese society mainly for utilitarian reasons – to serve the state’s goals of economic and cultural development (Adamson 2004). The historical changes in attitudes towards English indicate clearly that there are tensions between the forces of globalization, for which English serves as the major language, and the national interest. Copyright © 2016 Michael O’Sullivan, David Huddart and Carmen Lee, selection and editorial matter; individual chapters, the contributors.
|Title of host publication||The future of English in Asia: Perspectives on language and literature|
|Editors||Michael O'SULLIVAN, David HUDDART, Carmen LEE|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon|
|ISBN (Print)||9781138805071, 9781317618355|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|