Images of “good English” in the Korean conservative press

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In South Korea, English as a symbolic resource frequently mediates relations of class, privilege, and authority, and the Korean media play a significant role in the negotiation of the place and meaning of English in the country. This paper identifies interdiscursivity (Agha and Wortham 2005) as an important semiotic mechanism for this process, and illustrates this through texts of the conservative print media which rationalize the privileges of Korean elites by representing them as successful learners of English. This paper identifies three distinct yet interrelated processes of interdiscursivity that accomplish this work. First, the process of <i>spatiotemporal extension</i> links geographically and temporally distant communicative events with the here-and-now, setting up the relevance of the English language within local social context. Second, the process of <i>recursivity</i> (Irvine and Gal 2000) reapplies global oppositional relations locally so that the linguistic legitimacy of native speakers of English comes to serve as a basis for local elites&#8217; authority. Third, the process of <i>mediatization</i> (Johnson and Ensslin 2007) allows the media institution to selectively highlight the achievements of elite learners while erasing the problems of unequal opportunities for English language learning in Korea. Together, the three interdiscursive processes in the texts naturalize the linguistic legitimacy of elite learners of English, thereby justifying and reproducing the structure of the linguistic market in which the global language of English indexes local relations of power and privilege.


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