The Awful English Language

Philosophical Papers 47 (1):123-154 (2018)
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The ever-increasing dominance of English within analytic philosophy is an aspect of linguistic globalisation. To assess it, I first address fundamental issues in the philosophy of language. Steering a middle course between linguistic universalism and linguistic relativism, I deny that some languages might be philosophically superior to others, notably by capturing the essential categories of reality. On this background I next consider both the pros and cons of the Anglicisation of philosophy. I shall defend the value of English as a lingua franca, while denying both the feasibility and the desirability of English as the sole universal language of philosophy. Finally I turn to the linguistic inequality in contemporary analytic philosophy. While it does not per se amount to an injustice, there is a need to level the playing field. But the remedy does not lie in linguistic academic sectarianism. Instead, what might be called for are piecemeal measures to reduce explicit and implicit biases against analytic philosophers on the geographic fringes, biases that are only partly connected to the predominance of English.



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Hans-Johann Glock
University of Zürich

References found in this work

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Language, Thought and Reality.Benjamin Lee Whorf, John B. Carroll & Stuart Chase - 1956 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 11 (4):695-695.
On the Very idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 1984 - In Inquiries Into Truth And Interpretation. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. pp. 183-198.

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