A sociolinguistic profile of English in Brazil: Issues of imperialism, dominance, and empowerment

Patricia Marques Friedrich, Purdue University


With the publication of Robert Phillipson's Linguistic Imperialism in 1992, a theoretical debate was established to discuss not only the extent to which Phillipson's claims of language as an hegemonizing instrument were true, but whether or not such phenomenon existed at all. This sociolinguistic study is an addition to such debate. It is an examination of the applicability of linguistic imperialism to a particular country: Brazil. It is a hermeneutical discussion which questions whether there can be other factors, especially those relation to the internal structure of developing nations, which better explain the introduction and maintenance of international languages such as English. It also questions whether inequality (linguistic and otherwise) has its roots in problems of a different nature such as economic dependence. As a means to its goals, the study also draws the sociolinguistic profile of English in Brazil, being that South America has for the most part been left untouched by World Englishes scholarship. The findings are an initial step towards a better understanding of language dynamics in that part of the world.




S.Berns, Purdue University.

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