Department of English Research Seminar: Authority and Authenticity in Media Englishes and the Englishes of Popular Culture



Authority and Authenticity in Media Englishes and the Englishes of Popular Culture


'Authenticity' has long been a primary concern of sociolinguistic analyses. Early sociolinguistic work insisted that data collected should be 'spontaneous and naturally occurring', a methodological dictum that was, in large part, borrowed from dialectology's search for 'authentic' Englishes that were thought to be endangered by modernization and, later, urbanization. In many ways, authentic Englishes are imagined to represent both literally and imaginatively 'authentic identities' of the speakers of those languages. The emphasis on 'authentic' Englishes significantly coincides with the development across a number of English-speaking communities of a 'Standard Language Ideology', which promotes myths of 'purity' and 'timelessness' of the standard language, as well as an implicit assumption of ‘authority’ within the standard language. As standardized Englishes are usually adopted as media languages -- and frequently named after the media that use them, such as 'BBC English' or 'American Broadcast Standard' -- these media languages risk losing features that may signal 'authentic' language or identities. And the pursuit of authenticity in media Englishes is often further amplified in the Englishes of popular culture, where authenticity must be manufactured as part of the process of creation. This talk will explore the historical basis for the processes that manufacture both authority and authenticity in English varieties as normal recurring process of standardization within a pluricentric model of world Englishes.

The Speaker

Dr Andrew Moody
University of Macau

Andrew Moody is Associate Professor of English at the University of Macau where he teaches courses in sociolinguistics and world Englishes. Before beginning his PhD at the University of Kansas (USA) he taught English for two years at the Beijing Second Foreign Language Institute (China). His PhD dissertation in English (1997) was a corpus examination of inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic writing styles found in e-mail messages from Hong Kong students, a dissertation that became an early examination of Hong Kong English. After completing the PhD and while working in Japan he began investigating the role of English in Japanese popular culture generally, and especially in J-Pop music. He has written on the role of English in East Asian and South East Asian popular culture and published in World Englishes, English Language and Teaching Journal, English Today and has contributed essays to several collections focussing on language in popular culture and in world Englishes. His most recent research examines the various roles of dialect in popular music and he has edited a collection of essays investigating the role of English in Asian pop cultures, published by Hong Kong University Press. Currently he is writing books on the roles and status of English in Macau for Springer and Palgrave Macmillan Press as well as a survey of English used in Asian popular culture for Palgrave Macmillan and for Oxford University Press. Since January 2018 he has served as the editor of the journal English Today (Cambridge University Press).