The weaponization of language training in U.S. foreign relations, 1941–1970


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In 1964, the Stanford linguist Robert Politzer made a surprising claim in the pages of the Modern Language Journal. American linguists were then attaining unprecedented influence in the field of foreign-language teaching, promising dramatically improved results if teachers adhered to their methods and shaping classroom practices and materials from primary to postsecondary contexts. Politzer concluded that the reason for linguists’ influence was not, however, due to the merit of their ideas alone. “[Linguistic] theory by itself is perhaps not sufficient to shape pedagogical procedure,” he wrote. “[Above] all, our general attitude toward international communication [is] decisive.”1
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-131
Number of pages26
JournalDiplomatic History
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author wishes to thank the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (General Research Fund grant #13601118) for research support essential to this article..


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