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Anna Wierzbicka

At the heart of Anna Wierzbicka’s book is the argument that what people now call World English is not culturally neutral; that it has embedded in it the Anglo values of its origin. Wierzbicka points to many seemingly ordinary English words, words that we would never suspect of being culturally distinctive, that have no equivalents in other languages. Anglo speakers will be surprised to discover that the values these seemingly commonplace words carry are not universals. Good and bad are universals, but right and wrong are not; the concept of fairness is Anglo, and most other languages do not have words that correspond to fair, fairness and unfair. Even at the level of verbal phrases such as I think, I guess and I believe, and in English’s proliferation of adverbs such as probably, possibly, apparently and conceivably, English differs from all other languages.

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