What are we to do with english? Of all the major languages of the world, it causes the most anxiety. Its words seem to want to invade the citadels of other languages, forcing institutions such as the Académie Française to call for barricades against it; in the enclaves of Englishness, a Celtic fringe struggles to hold on to the remnants of the mother tongue; and in most parts of the world those without the ostensibly anointed language often see themselves as permanently locked out of the spring-wells of modernity. Sometimes the global linguistic map appears to be a simple division between those with English and those without it. In the reaches of the former British Empire, a swath of the globe stretching from Vancouver east to the Malay Peninsula, English has come to be seen as an advantage in the competitive world of global politics and trade; in the emerging powers of East Asia, most notably China and South Korea, the consumption of global English is evident in the huge sale of books on English as a second language; in parts of the world traditionally cut off from English, including eastern Europe, the mastery of the language marks the moment of arrival. Most linguistic research on English is carried out in institutions in the Germanic and Nordic zones of northern Europe. In popular books on language and in serious linguistic studies, a powerful myth of English as the global language has taken hold. We are presented not with a world at the end of history but with one in which English sits at the center of a new global community: “English-speaking people and their culture are more widespread in numbers and influence than any civilization the world has ever seen,” claims Robert McCrum (257).