It’s not hard to see why governments would seek to defend their languages. But some linguists think a staunch anti-English stance may be counterproductive. Truly endangered languages tend to be encroached on mostly by their dominant geographic neighbors, says Selma Sonntag, a political scientist at Humboldt State University who studies language purist movements: “The threat isn’t from English, it’s from whatever the official language is within their area.” Linguist David Crystal, author of “English as a Global Language,” has written about how Welsh-language purism may be furthering an elitism that prevents younger speakers from adopting the tongue. And it’s worth noting that English owes much of its vitality to its long history of borrowing from French, Latin, Arabic, and pretty much any other language it met. “Loanwords...do alter [a language’s] character—but is this a bad thing?” Crystal told me. “Imagine English without French or Latin loanwords. No Shakespeare, for a start.”
But that imbalance can build resentment. In France, the secretary of the Academie Française called last December for a “reconquest of the French language” from loanwords; in China, government-friendly papers printed screeds this spring against “Wi-Fi,” “VIP,” and “e-mail.” Even as many governments work to protect languages from the spread of English, however, speakers in those countries go blithely off to “hot jooga,” meaning that official policy and the daily reality of English may be very different things.
Ling was one of the highest-profile targets (next to Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou) of the anti-corruption campaign following the 18th Party Congress spearheaded by Party General secretary Xi Jinping and central discipline chief Wang Qishan. He was the second sitting "national leader"-level figure to be investigated by the party's anti-graft agency, after CPPCC Vice-Chairman Su Rong. Chinese-language media have linked Ling to a mysterious political network composed of prominent politicians and businesspeople with origins in Shanxi called the Xishan Society.