, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 3-25

Language choice in a nation under transition: The struggle between English and French in Cambodia

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Abstract

Cambodia offers an intriguing case study for the international spread of English. As a result of the multiple transitions the country is currently undergoing, English has increased dramatically in status in the last decade, essentially displacing French as the international language of choice. At the descriptive level, this article charts the spread of English into Cambodia, along side French efforts to contest this spread in favor of French. At the theoretical level, this article extrapolates from the case study to make a comment in the on going debate among scholars about English language spread. The Cambodian case contributes to this debate in several ways, notably in affirming or challenging the multinational attachments of English, the communicative inequality that English use may create, the economic exploitation that may result from the establishment of English in developing countries, and the resistance to English that may emerge in settings into which the language is spreading.

This revised version was published online in October 2005 with corrections to the Cover Date.