English Lingua Franca

The belief that everyone in the world should learn English is generally associated with xenophobic elements in Anglophone societies. As a result, it’s frequently dismissed out of hand as a serious idea–it sounds too much like something out of UKIP or Arizona. It makes it all the more interesting that a political theorist–a Belgian political theorist, from the heart of the multilingual EU–has taken the view that English should be the new global lingua franca. His name is Philippe Van Parijs. He’s most famous for his advocacy for a universal basic income (UBI), a kind of permanent income everyone receives purely for being a person. His argument for English lingua franca (which also possesses a convenient acronym, ELF) is compelling, in no small part because its focus is not on the convenience of native English speakers, but on the potential benefits available to non-native speakers in countries outside the Anglosphere.

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