This collection brings together views about the nature of English and its users. Within the United Kingdom - and in some other countries - there is a feeling of unease that language and literacy are in decline and that their central role in developing a sense of national unity and heritage is weakening. Governmental response to this perception is to move towards centralized, state-imposed curricula and assessment, seeking to guarantee standards through legislation. At the same time that the original source of English feels insecure, other countries and cultures become increasingly confident about taking over its use and ownership on their own terms and within their own cultures. Several of the authors here celebrate the diverse ways in which people across the world are developing their own distinctive varieties of English. In exploring these contradictory, defensive and optimistic attitudes towards the inevitability of linguistic and cultural change, the volume's contributors demonstrate the current liveliness and intensity of discussion about this perennial, and increasingly debated, topic.