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The Future ConditionalBuilding an English-Speaking Society in Northeast China$
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Eric S. Henry

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781501754906

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501754906.001.0001

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Commodifying Language

Commodifying Language

The Business of English in Shenyang

(p.94) 4 Commodifying Language
The Future Conditional

Eric S. Henry

Cornell University Press

This chapter assesses the commerce of foreign languages in contemporary Shenyang. It focuses on the production of language as a commodity, the means by which certain forms of language are imbued with social value through the practices of marketing them to consumers. In the scramble to develop Shenyang's foreign language marketplace, school owners developed innovative strategies to build and maintain their businesses, strategies that themselves were crucial in reconfiguring the nature of language itself from something that is learned to something that is sold. The commodity logic of English extends far beyond their reach through uptake into almost all aspects of foreign language use in China, from public schools to testing to corporate management of linguistic (human) resources. It is no longer a stretch to say that English speakers in China are manufactured in much the same way as the vast number of goods bound from Chinese factories to Western marketplaces.

Keywords:   foreign languages, Shenyang, foreign language marketplace, commodification, English language, English speakers, China, public schools, linguistic resources

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