Publication details [#61004]

Flowers, Katherine S. 2016. Making English local. Chronotopes in language policy discourse. Journal of Language and Politics 15 (4) : 468–491.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This study examines the role of chronotopes in a municipal campaign to make English the official language. Drawing on theories of scale, localism, and chronotopes in discourse, this article traces how 30 town residents situated the English language in local and US history through talk and gesture. By evoking two contrasting chronotopes as they created and interpreted the language policy, people positioned monolingualism as a local tradition and multilingualism as a new, outside threat. Yet these chronotopes of local time and distant time were also recursive and fluid in two key ways. First, the US could be aligned with or against the local, which allowed English-only advocates to simultaneously criticize the nation and appeal to an idealized US past. Second, some critics of the policy reconfigured the chronotopes in order to posit multilingualism as the more authentic local tradition. These moves allowed the people involved to support, redefine and resist the English-only movement.