Focus Lecture 5

Mock Englishes in Popular Culture: Appropriating English for Popular Consumption

Andrew Moody
University of Macau


Popular culture, for a long time, has had a love affair with the sound of English. Singers try to work English-sounding lyrics into their pop music — sometimes with success, but often with amusing results. This devotion to English can be found throughout the world, but nowhere more clearly that in Asia. And the infusion of English can be found in almost any popular culture product. English is used to decorate advertising, television shows and T-shirts not for ommunicative purposes, but because of the cultural values and ideologies that are suggested by the language. An examination of the range and history of mock English suggests that the phenomenon is neither new nor communicative. What, then, are the purposes of mock English and what does its use suggest about the roles and conceptualisation of English generally? While mock English may be used to promote better English language learning, more often it is used to suggest a way of life or a set of images related to modernity and the presence of English. By controlling the contexts and functions of mock English, speakers empower themselves to become speakers of a language that might otherwise prove threatening.


Andrew Moody is Associate Professor of English and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Macau where he teaches Sociolinguistics, Language Variation, World Englishes, and Language Ideologies. He has written on the role of English in East Asian and South East Asian popular culture and published in World Englishes, English Language and Teaching Journal, and English Today, and has contributed essays to several collections focusing on language in popular culture. Currently, he is preparing a monograph for Springer Press about Macau Multilingualism and the development of Macau English.

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