On Thomas Hylland Erikson’s site Engaging with the World some nights ago I came across his keynote speech to the conference “Bi- and multilingual universities: Challenges and future prospects” [University of Helsinki, Sept 1 – 3, 2005] wherein he reflects cultural implications of English as a universal academic language: McDonaldisation or diversity? Notes on the use of English as a foreign language.
I won’t try to reproduce it here, you can go and have a worthwhile look yourself icyai. While both title and the initial lines, which are said to be an “aphorism from the internet” are provokingly set, it is a sensuous reflection on what it means for non-native speaking academics to professionally communicate in English–especially in the humanities. You know these nightmares in which one cannot speak, only grumbles and strange sounds coming off one’s mouth, like a video that is on slomo?
The use of English moreover may impact the representation of non-native speakers’ research in the academic community and on the publication market, as far as I ve understood Erikson–whom I would not have been able to read without him presenting in English.
The last line of that internet aphorism btw–I think–Adrian would have answered by “an australian? “.