Bad English

Literature, multilingualism, and the politics of language in contemporary Britain

By Rachael Gilmour

Bad English


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-6382-0
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: June 2022
  • BIC Category: Literature: history & criticism, LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Politics, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, Language / General, Literature & literary studies / General, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Language Texts, Literature
  • Series: Manchester University Press


Bad English investigates the impact of increasing language diversity, precipitated by migration, globalisation, and new forms of communication, in transforming contemporary literature in Britain. Considering writers whose work engages experimentally, playfully, and ambivalently with English's power, while exploring what it means to move between forms of language, it makes the case for literature as the pre-eminent medium to probe the terms of linguistic belonging, and for a diverse and growing field of writing in Britain defined by its inside/outside relationship to English in its institutionalised forms.

Bad English offers innovative readings of writers including James Kelman, Tom Leonard, Suhayl Saadi, Raman Mundair, Daljit Nagra, Xiaolu Guo, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, and Caroline Bergvall. Drawing on insights from applied linguistics and translation studies as well as literary scholarship, it will appeal to students and academics across these disciplines.


Introduction: Bad English
1 Thi langwij ah thi guhtr
2 Dictionary trawling
3 Prosthetic language
4 'Passing my voice into theirs'
5 Living in translation
6 'The language is the border'
Conclusions: 'Say Parsley'


Rachael Gilmour is Professor of Contemporary Literature and Postcolonial Studies at Queen Mary University of London

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