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The AnglosphereContinuity, Dissonance and Location$
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Ben Wellings and Andrew Mycock

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266618

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266618.001.0001

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The Anglosphere as a Principle of Progress

The Anglosphere as a Principle of Progress

(p.21) 2 The Anglosphere as a Principle of Progress
The Anglosphere

Michael Gardiner

British Academy

The Anglosphere is not only a linguistic entity, it is more fundamentally based in a binding of linguistic improvement, commerce, and historical advance, and it can be read in linguistic aspirations specifically set against the improving background of the Scottish Enlightenment. Enlightenment rhetoric guides answered the imperative of adjustment to British union and a desire to level the ground for individual public advance, and they define the language area in terms of a teleology, pointing inevitably towards commercial society. For literati like Adam Smith, linguistic improvement was the raw material of exchange, exchange was a clear historiographical good, and this good can moreover be demonstrated more or less empirically. The Anglosphere should be understood as a space that is simultaneously linguistic, economic, and historiographic, remaining readable in Victorian statecraft, and in Greater Britain’s ‘linguistic ethnicity’, and in the lost colonies of Britain’s ‘first empire’. It is doubtful, however, whether the Anglosphere in this understanding has retained its direction after the attenuations of the late twentieth century, the new pressures on property creation, and the undoing of the original ethical knot of language, economy, and historiography.

Keywords:   Anglosphere, Scottish Enlightenment, historiography, Adam Smith

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