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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 2: The sociolinguistics of English in post-1989 Poland – social, cultural, and linguistic aspects

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2.1. Introduction The prime aim of this dissertation is to present a comprehensive picture of major sociolinguistic phenomena and processes taking place in post-1989 Poland as a result of the spread and rising importance of English in former satellite countries of the Soviet Union. The portrayal of the sociolinguistics of English in Poland is focused on the last two decades, the time when our country gained true independence and was fully exposed to the Western capitalist world and the processes of globalization invariably accompanied by English serving as a global lingua franca. Nevertheless, it would not be possible to adequately understand the functioning of English in post-communist times without investigating the importance, role, and status of the language in Poland prior to 1989. Accordingly, the chapter begins with a brief overview of some general sociolinguistically relevant issues in the period preceding the last two decades. It is followed by a comprehensive discussion of various, the most salient (in the context of Poland), sociolinguistic phenomena selected on the basis of the overview of general patterns and trends observable around the world. One should discern that the issue of Poles’ perception (attitudes and beliefs) of the English language and its role in Poland will be elaborated on in a separate chapter (Chapter 4), where in addition to a general delineation of ‘attitudinal’ patterns found among various groups of Poles, the author will refer to his empirical research undertaken to explore this least examined area of the sociolinguistic enterprise (especially in the context...

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