Language policy has long been used as an instrument to serve colonial and imperialist endeavours.
The linguist, Robert Phillipson, has written on linguistic imperialism at length, asserting that language and its management are both intimately connected to agents of power, such as empire.
The near omnipresence of the English language globally, particularly in post-colonies, attests to this connection and, in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s words, points to the role of English as a language of ‘imperialist imposition’.
This connection between language and empire was echoed in Gordon Brown’s 2008 press release upon his first visit to China and India as Prime Minister, as he pushed for a further dispersion of English language learning to make it the global language of choice.
Rather ironically, he framed it as “a new gift to the world” (emphasis added). In more recent years, this “gift” along with British language policy more broadly made its bed with the state’s countering extremism strategy.