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The porous borders of language and nation: English in Indonesia

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This analysis of language use and legislation in globalization highlights challenges to and crossings of the borders of Indonesian nationalist ideologies and local language ecologies. Through the specific workings of language and languaging in situ, here explored through three brief examples of language use and ideologies in Central Java, I analyze university English majors’ discussions of the local meaningfulness of English. The analysis demonstrates that institutional language policies are simultaneously subverted by and influential in local language hierarchies. The discussions analyzed come from the students’ written Sociolinguistics class assignments while I was their teacher and from research interviews that they participated in with me, both in which I ask participants about the borders of what can be defined as the English language, and the borders of linguistic ideologies and nationalism in contemporary Indonesia. With an intent stemming from the very origins of language policy research to generate ideas for how state apparatuses might better serve their constituents (Fishman, 1974), this information is essential for understanding the limitations and opportunities that states are instrumental in creating among their citizenries.
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Keywords: English; Indonesia; borders; language policy; linguistic performativity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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