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‘English a foreign tongue’: The 2011 Census in England and the misunderstanding of multilingualism

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‘English a foreign tongue’ : The 2011 Census in England and the misunderstanding of multilingualism. / Sebba, Mark.

In: Journal of Language and Politics, Vol. 16, No. 2, 21.03.2017, p. 264-284.

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Sebba, Mark. / ‘English a foreign tongue’ : The 2011 Census in England and the misunderstanding of multilingualism. In: Journal of Language and Politics. 2017 ; Vol. 16, No. 2. pp. 264-284.

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@article{c497c893856f49c5b780362d97153aa7,
title = "{\textquoteleft}English a foreign tongue{\textquoteright}: The 2011 Census in England and the misunderstanding of multilingualism",
abstract = "The 2011 UK Census was the first decennial census to ask a question about language in England. The period during which the census was planned coincided with a period of intense politicisation of the language issue. The census results showed that 98.3% of the adult population either spoke English as their main language, or could speak it well or very well. These statistics produced a media frenzy focussed on the number of people who supposedly could not speak English. There were misunderstandings among journalists and politicians about what the statistics meant, with {\textquoteleft}not speaking English as a main language{\textquoteright} being interpreted as {\textquoteleft}not speaking English{\textquoteright}.This paper discusses the census in England and its aftermath, revealing a lack of understanding of multilingualism and literacies by the monolingual majority. Not only were the census questions possibly flawed, but the results fed into anti-immigration discourse and were used to reduce services for non-speakers of English.",
keywords = "census, multilingualism, bilingualism, England, sociolinguistics",
author = "Mark Sebba",
note = "{\textcopyright} 2017 John Benjamins ",
year = "2017",
month = mar
day = "21",
doi = "10.1075/jlp.14026.seb",
language = "English",
volume = "16",
pages = "264--284",
journal = "Journal of Language and Politics",
issn = "1569-2159",
publisher = "John Benjamins Publishing Company",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - ‘English a foreign tongue’

T2 - The 2011 Census in England and the misunderstanding of multilingualism

AU - Sebba, Mark

N1 - © 2017 John Benjamins

PY - 2017/3/21

Y1 - 2017/3/21

N2 - The 2011 UK Census was the first decennial census to ask a question about language in England. The period during which the census was planned coincided with a period of intense politicisation of the language issue. The census results showed that 98.3% of the adult population either spoke English as their main language, or could speak it well or very well. These statistics produced a media frenzy focussed on the number of people who supposedly could not speak English. There were misunderstandings among journalists and politicians about what the statistics meant, with ‘not speaking English as a main language’ being interpreted as ‘not speaking English’.This paper discusses the census in England and its aftermath, revealing a lack of understanding of multilingualism and literacies by the monolingual majority. Not only were the census questions possibly flawed, but the results fed into anti-immigration discourse and were used to reduce services for non-speakers of English.

AB - The 2011 UK Census was the first decennial census to ask a question about language in England. The period during which the census was planned coincided with a period of intense politicisation of the language issue. The census results showed that 98.3% of the adult population either spoke English as their main language, or could speak it well or very well. These statistics produced a media frenzy focussed on the number of people who supposedly could not speak English. There were misunderstandings among journalists and politicians about what the statistics meant, with ‘not speaking English as a main language’ being interpreted as ‘not speaking English’.This paper discusses the census in England and its aftermath, revealing a lack of understanding of multilingualism and literacies by the monolingual majority. Not only were the census questions possibly flawed, but the results fed into anti-immigration discourse and were used to reduce services for non-speakers of English.

KW - census

KW - multilingualism

KW - bilingualism

KW - England

KW - sociolinguistics

U2 - 10.1075/jlp.14026.seb

DO - 10.1075/jlp.14026.seb

M3 - Journal article

VL - 16

SP - 264

EP - 284

JO - Journal of Language and Politics

JF - Journal of Language and Politics

SN - 1569-2159

IS - 2

ER -