"The official language of Telefónica is English": Problematizing the construction of English as a lingua franca in the Spanish telecommunications sector
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This article investigates the contradictions around the construction of English as a democratising lingua franca for intercultural communication and business in the Spanish telecommunications sector. From a critical sociolinguistic ethnographic perspective, I claim that this crucial segment of the market has embraced and mobilized a rhetoric through which, by presenting this language as an unproblematised adde d-value r esource for everyone, multinationals make claims of modernity and 'civic' entrepreneurial relationships to target lucrative economic niches, particularly multilingual transnational customers. However, these neoliberal celebratory discursive tropes on the effi ciency and inclusiveness of global English contrast with the actual public language practices of the sector. English has become a pragmatic cover-up term for making claims of 'multilingual competence', but it is actually unsystematically off ered only by key multinationals in specifi c spaces usually call centres and far less so by start-up operators. Overall, the sociolinguistic regime of the Spanish telecommunications sector fosters a Spanish- regimented market where English ends up serving the needs of an already connected dominant technoliterate elite, while those who do not have access to English or Spanish, basically non- literate migrant ict users, remain underserved and are forced to navigate society through these institutionalised language barriers.
Is part ofAtlantis Journal of The Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, 2012, vol. 34, num. 1, p. 133-151
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