This paper analyses how the lens of ‘colonisation/decolonisation’ is used by popular and academic accounts of language change in Algeria to structure understanding of contemporary language practices and conceptions of belonging. It shows how these frames lead to English being held up as a ‘decolonial’ option, supposedly allowing for the bypassing of existing hierarchies and the renewal of social and political categories. It also analyses the ways in which the sole focus on ‘English against French’ obscures the multiple functions of talking about English and in English. The sole focus on colonisation and the transformative hopes surrounding English also contributes to disconnecting research about English in Algeria and the Maghreb from existing research on English in the world. It further spotlights only English and French over more complex language dynamics.
- politics of language