Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Multilingua

Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

6 Issues per year


IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.685
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.702

CiteScore 2016: 0.60

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.600
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.805

Online
ISSN
1613-3684
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 34, Issue 5

Issues

Sleepless in Seoul: Neoliberalism, English fever, and linguistic insecurity among Korean interpreters

Jinhyun Cho
Published Online: 2015-03-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2013-0047

Abstract

This article examines the socially constructed nature of significant linguistic insecurity with regard to the English language in Korean society as informed by neoliberalism. It specifically explores how linguistic insecurity leads to the pursuit of linguistic perfectionism under the popular discourse of neoliberal personhood. Participants are English-Korean translators and interpreters who spent extended periods of their youth abroad in English immersion contexts. Informants’ narratives trace their linguistic journeys from linguistic adjustment overseas to readjustment and career decisions back home. This study examines their experiences at school and work, with a particular focus on their relationships with non-returnees. The findings reveal that in contrast to the commonly-held beliefs that returnees are competent and confident speakers of English, they suffer from anxieties related to unrealistically high “native-like” expectations of their English back home. Their career choice can be traced to a strong belief in the ideals of neoliberal personhood, through which they hope to transform themselves for social recognition. This, however, remains elusive due to heightened competition over English against an ever-rising bar. The article concludes that the current state represents a “no-win” situation, in which linguistic insecurity and perfectionism continue to be reinforced in neoliberal discourses of individual accountability.

Keywords: English as a global language; neoliberalism; South Korea; interpreters; returnees; linguistic insecurity; linguistic perfectionism; domestic English learners; overseas English learners

References

About the article

Published Online: 2015-03-18

Published in Print: 2015-09-01


Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 34, Issue 5, Pages 687–710, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2013-0047.

Export Citation

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton. Copyright Clearance Center

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in