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The Phonostate at the End of History: Language, Nation, and a Scheme for World Peace in Edwardian South Africa

Ossa-Richardson, A; (2021) The Phonostate at the End of History: Language, Nation, and a Scheme for World Peace in Edwardian South Africa. Modern Intellectual History pp. 1-23. 10.1017/s1479244321000548. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article tells the story of the eccentric and unknown writer Albert William Alderson (1880–1963), a British South African office clerk whose father had helped found the De Beers diamond mining corporation with Cecil Rhodes. Alderson, despite having no academic background, wrote two books and several pamphlets arguing that world peace could be achieved by eliminating all the languages in the world other than English; he buttressed this claim with an elaborate account of the causes of war taken from his reading in world history, but also with extraordinary statements on the relation of language to personal agency. Although Alderson's arguments cannot be taken seriously, they are illuminating as an example of “naïve” liberalism pushed to its limit; that is, as a case-study in heterodoxy comparable to Carlo Ginzburg's Menocchio. I conclude by suggesting that his work helped inspire one influential reader—C. K. Ogden, the founder of Basic English.

Type: Article
Title: The Phonostate at the End of History: Language, Nation, and a Scheme for World Peace in Edwardian South Africa
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/s1479244321000548
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1479244321000548
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10136426
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