Anglosphere: a term to define the set of people that speak English as their native tongue or as a second langauge. The core of this sphere is The United Kingdom and the United States. Surrounding this core are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa, with "the educated English-speaking populations of the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa and India [constituting] the Anglosphere's frontiers." Anglosphere is also used around the web to refer to the subsection of websites written in English, or sometimes the sphere of political influence surrounding Great Britain.

According to James C. Bennett, for these countries/cultures to be included under the Anglosphere umbrella is not only speaking English, but also adhering to some shared set of history or mores (whether this is colonial influence or not doesn't seem to matter). This shared history includes thought embodied in the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, and other such documents considered "Western in origin". To be an Anglospherist one must recognize:

  • Historical continuity - "...the Anglosphere is recognizably evolved from Alfred's kingdom..."
  • Networked, rather than hierarchical, structure - The relationship between America, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittain as an example may have been contested historically but stands today as a "Great Britain" and a "United States", moving beyond the hierachical 'King-kingdom' and 'Colony-colonized'. "...Anglospherists call on all English-speaking nations to abandon Haushoferian fantasies of geographical blocs: on America to downgrade its hemispherist ambitions, on Britain to rethink its Europeanist illusions, and on Australia to reject its 'Asian identity' fallacy..."
  • Memetic, rather than genetic, identity - the Melting Pot encompasses a huge range of racial diversity but all members are part of an Anglophone society. The cultural diversity of this population is an inherent feature of the Anglosphere, but...
  • Emphasis is placed on similarities with recognition of differences - You are British, I am American, but we are both innocent until proven guilty.

Some areas are noted to be "on the fringe" or the Anglosphere (such as India or Japan) because of differing historical points of view. India has a large cross-section of English speakers due to colonial rule. Japan has a cross-section of English speakers from American post-war activities (reinforced by the national education apparatus and Western business culture). The race or history of a group does not exclude them from the Anglosphere however, and as time and diffusion goes on India will likely move closer to the core. I suspect Japan will remain on the outer-shell due to (albeit changing) cultural-xenophobia and a sense of collectivism over individuality.

Since "Anglospherism is assuredly not the racialist Anglo-Saxonism dating from the era around 1900, nor the sentimental attachment of the Anglo-American Special Relationship of the decades before and after World War II..." the spread of the Anglosphere to other regions is hindered in this modern era by technical literacy and access to the Internet. The only counter argument is that computerized translation technology will reach a point of sophistication that The Web will have no determinable predominate language.


  • "An Anglosphere Primer" by James C. Bennett can be found at
  • Although I am an Anglophone, this is a case of Noding what I don't know. I am not a sociologist.
    Tip of the hat goes to Cletus the Foetus for clarity.

    The Anglosphere is the English speaking world. It could further be described as an area with a shared history and cultural customs. I find the second part somewhat problematic though, since that assumes that to be an English speaker, someone must be connected to some essential "Englishness", or it just begs the question by defining the culture of English speakers as the culture of people who speak the English language, and defines the English language as that spoken by people with English cultural ties. Wishing to avoid the cultural issues, I will define the Anglosphere in more practical terms. I do however, agree that the Anglosphere has concentric levels, with some countries in the core and some countries on the periphery.

    The most core Anglosphere countries are usually considered to be The United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I base this on the fact that, as an English as a Second Language teacher, most schools looking for a native speaker will specify a passport holder of those countries. There are a number of other countries where English is spoken almost as universally, but are not considered to be quite as culturally integrated as the main five: South Africa, Ireland and Jamaica. Notice that this is not a matter of clarity of pronunciation: the average Jamaican is probably easier for a "standard" English speaker to follow than someone from Scotland, Alabama or Australia, but due to prejudice, many people consider them to speak a "secondary" English. In the next ring out are countries where English is widely used as a secondary or official language, but where people have another, stronger language or cultural identity. This could include countries like The Philippines, Singapore, India or Israel. Then there are a few countries where English is learned as a second language, but to the degree that it is spoken with native precision: in most of Scandinavia and The Netherlands for example. And in our furthest circle is countries where English is mostly spoken as a language of academics and business, but is not commonly spoken: Russia and Japan, for example.

    While the exact placement of a country in these categories might be a matter for discussion, but the general nature of how English is used in different regions is probably clear. It also raises the issue of how we look at language and nationality: If only 10% of the population of India was raised as English speakers, it still means it has twice as many native English speakers as the United Kingdom. At what point does the English spoken by people who "aren't English speakers" start to outweigh the English spoken by those who are?

    And, as a personal note, this is a list of (some) of the countries my fellow English teachers in Chile have come from: The United States, The United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Russia, Poland, Hungary, The Philippines, Malaysia, India, Brazil, Venezuela and Chile.

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