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Sociolinguistic aspects of the functioning of English in post-1989 Poland

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Krzysztof Przygonski

The fall of communism fully opened Poland to the processes and phenomena operating in ever globalizing world. In line with global trends, English in post-socialist Poland has been steadily growing in importance. By employing a holistic integrative approach utilizing relevant theoretical, descriptive, and empirical insights, the author builds up a comprehensive picture of the sociolinguistic functioning of English in post-1989 Poland. In order to supplement his integration and analysis of the state-of-the-art knowledge, the author devises an original investigation probing into the perceived power of English. The result is the first such comprehensive and insightful analysis of English in a post-socialist country.

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Chapter 1: A brief introduction to the sociolinguistics of English as a world language

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1.1. The conceptualization of English, its spread and functioning – approaches and models The importance of theories and models in accounting for sociolinguistic phenomena seems quite obvious. Their significance and value are especially great when dealing with such a broad area of inquiry as the sociolinguistic aspects of the functioning of English as a world language. It is argued that the maturity of a field is well indicated by its theoretical bases or even diversity of approaches and models. In this light, the field of World Englishes seems to be coming of age as the multitude of stands on its dispersion, power relations, educational and pedagogical issues, as well as the conceptualization of the language per se is, in fact, remarkable. The theoretical underpinnings of the field presented in this chapter are meant to serve as a framework for the interpretation of the sociolinguistic phenomena related to the dispersion and functioning of English in post- transformational Poland.2 The insight offered by recent approaches to World Englishes will also enable to deepen our understanding of the role that the English language has been playing over the last two decades in the post-communist context. The choice of models and themes subject to discussion is meant to be representative of the field. Their evaluation and further application in the next chapters (especially, in the interpretation of the situation in Poland) is likely, of course, to be influenced by the author’s own preferences and subjective point of view. Nonetheless, great effort was put into the...

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