The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language by Rosemary Salomone

“[A] panoramic, endlessly fascinating and eye-opening book, with an arresting fact on nearly every page” – The New York Times 

Winner of the 2023 Pavese Prize in Non-Fiction


The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language 

By Rosemary Salomone


Published by Oxford University Press

16th May 2024

ISBN: 9780197765753

Paperback (with updated Preface) | £12.99


Rosemary Salomone, professor, lawyer and linguist, presents an award-winning, insightful and uniquely interdisciplinary investigation into the geopolitics of language and the origins and consequences of English as the world’s dominant lingua franca.

English has come to represent modernity, cosmopolitanism and technological progress. It is increasingly the ‘global language’ of business, finance, diplomacy, academics, science and the arts. Its popular appeal crosses generational, geographic and class bounds. But the global dominance of English also has its pitfalls of homogeneity and isolation and comes at a cost to other languages.

The rise of English is by no means a simple or inconsequential process. As we enter an increasingly globalised and post-colonial world, societies have had to grapple with the conflicting implications of cultural loss and advantageous opportunities presented by the English language.

All around the world, English divides the world in many complex ways and creates political and cultural tensions. In Europe, France and Italy as well as the Netherlands and the Nordic countries have faced contention over using English in higher education programmes, also reflective of the surge of nationalism in western societies. In Africa, we are simultaneously witnessing former French-speaking colonies moving towards English against distinct political and linguistic backdrops, while France and China, and more recently Russia, compete for influence across the continent, using language as ‘soft power’. Disputes over English and education policies in South Africa and India reveal long-standing grievances and inequities of politically motivated language policies.

Meticulously researched, spanning physical borders and temporal boundaries, Rosemary Salomone’s The Rise of English is an insightful investigation into the strength and promise of a world connected by a common language. But with this hope also comes caution: the power of the English language must be shepherded carefully, wisely and modestly, for its potential as a force for good is tethered to the conditions of a multilingual world that is becoming paradoxically more diverse as it converges toward sameness.


Praise for The Rise of English

“[A] panoramic, endlessly fascinating and eye-opening book, with an arresting fact on nearly every page … meticulous and nuanced in chronicling the battles being fought over language policy in countries ranging from Italy to Congo, and analyzing the unexpected winners and losers.”

The New York Times


“Tells the tale of a language that has gone from strength to strength after the demise of Britain’s empire and perhaps America’s global dominance”

The Economist


“[M]eticulous and nuanced in chronicling the battles and analyzing the unexpected winners and losers”

The New York Times, Editors’ Choice


“In this … timely historical analysis, [Rosemary Salomone] tackles many of the relevant angles in the ‘English only’ debate … A pertinent, accessible study that asks a big question: What language should the world speak?”

Kirkus Reviews


“[A] fundamental work to understand the political, economic and social implications of [the rise of English].”

Io Donna (ll Corriere della Sera)


“Today English is as close to a common tongue as there ever has been, with 1.5 billion speakers, and non-native speakers hugely outnumbering native speakers. The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language by Rosemary Salomone is a comprehensive study of how this happened, its consequences and costs … [T]he book reminds us – one can learn English, and also stay rooted in one’s own language.”

Times of India


About the Author

Rosemary Salomone is the Kenneth Wang Professor of Law at St John’s University in New York, USA. Trained as a linguist and a lawyer, she is an internationally recognized expert and commentator on language rights, education law and policy, and comparative equality. An elected member of the American Law Institute and fellow of the American Bar Foundation, she is a former faculty member of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, lecturer in Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management, and trustee of the State University of New York. She was awarded the 2023 Pavese Prize in non-fiction for her most recent book, The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language. Her other books include True American: Language, Identity, and the Education of Immigrant Children (Harvard University Press); Same, Different, Equal (Yale University Press) (selected as an “Outstanding Academic Title for 2005” by Choice Magazine); Visions of Schooling (Yale University Press); and Equal Education Under Law (St. Martin’s Press).


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