“RIP English”: race, class and ‘good English’ in India

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This article explores how metapragmatic discourses on “good” and “bad” English in India are mobilized in ways that allow actors to negotiate their status as English speakers. Adopting an intersectional framework that highlights the relationality of colonial, racialized, and classed claims to authority, the article shows how the co-naturalization of language and race shapes assessments of competency and legitimacy and how this is mitigated through anti-Blackness and appeals to class status. These judgments of “good” and “bad” English work to reassert and undermine racialized authority over the language and position actors within an imagined, global stratified community of speakers. This ambivalent positioning not only helps actors negotiate relational legitimacy as English speakers but also works strategically to benefit certain speakers and reproduce colonial, class, and racial orders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-201
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2023


  • class
  • coloniality
  • English
  • India
  • race


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