Introduction: World Englishes and Linguistic Theory
Abstract and Keywords
This volume brings together thirty-six chapters on World Englishes, which are here understood to refer to the full range of Englishes, both where English dominates as a native language and not. The collection is designed to offer a mutually constructive engagement with current linguistic theories, methods, questions, and hypotheses. With this primary theoretical orientation in sight, the chapters in the volume are divided into four thematic parts: Foundations, World Englishes and Linguistic Theory, Areal Profiles, and Case Studies. This arrangement offers balanced coverage of detailed accounts of the foundations and social histories of varieties of English spoken across the globe as well as the mutually enriching potential of studying World Englishes within diverse theoretical subareas of Linguistics. The collection closes with a set of case studies that exemplify this type of analysis.
The unique spread and evolution of English worldwide offers unique insights into theoretical questions in linguistics. Conversely, linguistic theory can also help structure our understanding of processes in variation and change in English. Strengthening these links, which have at times been very weak, is the primary goal of this collection.
With the advent of corpus linguistics, and with increasingly detailed work on English in different regions, there is now sufficient data in the study of World Englishes (WEs) for substantial comparative and theoretical work. The maturing field is now well-positioned for a more direct and productive interaction with linguistic theory. This collection thus offers a timely reorientation of the field such that it can enter a more substantive and mutually constructive engagement with mainstream theoretical methods, questions, and hypotheses. With this primary theoretical orientation in sight, the volume also offers detailed accounts of the foundations and socio-history of varieties of English spoken across the globe.
As we favour a focus on innovative work at the interface of description of new varieties and theoretical explanation, the book is more succinct in its treatment of more applied themes, which are given complementary coverage in other handbooks (e.g., Kachru, Kachru, and Nelson 2006). We certainly see these further areas as rich interface sites, and a particular appeal of the online library of Oxford University Press (Oxford Handbooks Online) is that it allows users to search keywords across the Handbook and indeed across Handbooks in other fields of study, drawing links between seemingly disparate areas that may have unusual, and often overlooked, points of connection.
We use the term ‘World Englishes’ throughout this volume, as the contributions span the full range of Englishes, both where it dominates as a native language and not. Alternative terms such as ‘New Englishes’ or ‘indigenized varieties’ are often used with narrower reference to non-settler varieties that have developed primarily in former (p. 4) British colonial territories, or what has been called the ‘Third Diaspora’ of English (Kachru, Kachru, and Nelson 2006: 3).
The book is divided into four thematic parts: Foundations, World Englishes and Linguistic Theory, Areal Profiles, and Case Studies.
Part I—foundations—starts off with a descriptive account by Peter Trudgill of the spread of English within the dominantly Anglophone world. He takes the reader on a dramatic tour of English over time, from its humble origins in Britain to its unparalleled spread over the centuries. Trudgill highlights along the way not only the birth of new English-speaking communities around the world but also the endangerment and loss of languages that has resulted in many places. This is followed by Edgar Schneider’s chapter ‘Models of English in the World’, which extends the focus to the spread of English beyond primarily English-speaking territories and aims to build a more general model of how varieties develop and their paths of development. Reflecting on the affordances and pitfalls of different conceptualizations of the global reach of English, Schneider shows how his recent Dynamic Model has brought to the fore the shared evolutionary, even cyclic, dynamics of English across its diverse locales.
Part II—world englishes and linguistic theory—moves from the historical foundations set out in Part I to the theoretical core of the volume. This part of the book deals with the interface of WEs with theory across subfields of linguistics, and the potential for mutual benefit in strengthening this interface. Part II is divided into two broad subsections. One—Language Structure—deals with theoretical linguistics and takes the analysis of linguistic systems as its main focus. The other—Social Context—expands out to the theoretical modelling of dynamic contexts within which such structures and systems arise and evolve. These include macrosocial (e.g., contact, diversity), microsocial (e.g., code-switching, pragmatics), and historical and geographical (e.g., diffusion) dimensions.
The five chapters focusing on theoretical linguistics cover phonological theory, syntactic and semantic theory, corpus linguistics, typology and universals, and cognitive linguistics. Christian Uffmann opens his chapter (‘World Englishes and Phonological Theory’) with a commentary that applies to many of the themes of this volume, namely the general absence of sustained engagement between theory-building, in this case phonological theory, and the empirical study of WEs. He goes on to illustrate, with the example of cross-varietal syllable structure (cf. Wiltshire, this volume), how rich the diversity of substrates in WEs is for Optimality Theoretic analysis. He closes with a set of theoretical challenges raised by the analysis—both within phonology and at the interface with socio-history—that highlight the converse potential, namely of WEs data to push theory forward.
Vivienne Fong (in ‘World Englishes and Syntactic and Semantic Theory’) similarly takes up the untapped potential of theoretical analysis of WEs, in this case within the domain of syntax and semantics. Looking at phenomena in the area of verbal agreement, aspectual semantics, and nominal semantics from very different varieties of English (Buckie, in Scotland, Singapore English, older English dialects, and Malaysian English), she shows the potential for such data to feed into distinct theoretical models, (p. 5) with a particular focus on typology, Minimalism, and Optimality Theory. Like Uffmann, her discussion shows the potential of strong theoretical grounding to unify apparently disparate phenomena across varieties under a single account.
A contrasting approach to the study of syntactic variation is taken in corpus linguistics. WEs as a field has seen hugely more research conducted within this paradigm recently than in the paradigms reviewed by Fong and Uffmann, with corpus analysis becoming among the most mainstream methodologies in the field. One possible reason is of course the greater sensitivity to variation and heterogeneity that corpus analysis allows, but perhaps also its more descriptive nature, not always requiring analysts to commit to a single underlying theoretical claim. The chapters by Uffmann and Fong, along with others in Part II, suggest that greater theoretical commitment may in fact be possible and productive. Christian Mair’s contribution on ‘World Englishes and Corpora’ reviews the substantial body of work on corpus analysis of varieties of English, with a focus on the ICE corpora, and then moves on to larger and more complex digital resources such as the World-Wide Web. He highlights the different affordances and potential of these types of large data resources, both for fine analysis of linguistic variation and for higher order understandings of language ideologies, nonstandardness, globalization, and multilingualism.
As with corpus linguistics, typology is another area that has seen considerable research activity in the arena of WEs in recent years. Peter Siemund and Julia Davydova, in ‘World Englishes and the Study of Typology and Universals’, examine this current body of work as well as new and anticipated directions of research in this area. Picking up themes noted briefly in Fong’s chapter earlier, Siemund and Davydova show how close cross-varietal comparison can illuminate questions of degrees of universality, markedness, frequency, and complex interrelatedness of structural phenomena. Their discussion traverses an impressive range of variable grammatical phenomena, even mediating between long-standing tensions between formalist and functionalist views of structural variation. Their closing comment echoes one of the great challenges of WEs research, namely capturing what they call ‘the multifaceted Gestalt of the data’ while developing a coherent theory of the variation observed.
The final chapter on structural theoretical perspectives turns to a more interdisciplinary dimension of language structure, namely cognitive linguistics. Franz Polzenhagen and Hans-Georg Wolf’s exploration of ‘World Englishes and Cognitive Linguistics’ helps transition to the section that follows, as it focuses on both cognitive theories of language form and the social embedding of cognition. Looking at allophonic variation, the authors examine sociocultural meanings through conceptual metaphor research as well as cultural-keyword models, highlighting the centrality of differing cultural contexts, not just universals of human cognition, for understanding meaning. They engage closely with the sociolinguistic literature on social meaning, a theme taken up in the second subsection of Part II of the collection.
The second subsection, entitled Social Contexts, considers precisely this social, historical, and geographical embedding of WEs, reviewing the analytic potential of theoretical models of these wider processes. The chapters in this subsection relate closely to (p. 6) one another, and the boundaries between chapters are in many ways the result of practical necessity, not theoretical distinctions.
The chapters dealing with ‘World Englishes, Second Language Acquisition, and Language Contact’ (by Rajend Mesthrie) and with ‘World Englishes and Creoles’ (by Donald Winford) are particularly closely linked. Mesthrie observes that the fields of Second Language Acquisition and WEs can benefit from one another in a specific way, the former acknowledging individual language transfer and contact effects of bilingualism in the latter, and the latter bringing a crucial dimension of socio-political and group dynamics, and socially meaningful acquisition to the former, which has typically been focused on generic individual learning. As creoles overlap in many of these themes, Winford’s chapter continues the focus on elements such as substrate transfer and group second language acquisition but also highlights the importance of internal developments in new varieties (creoles or indigenized varieties) and input from English varieties. Most important, he expertly outlines the shared but also divergent characteristics of creoles and New Englishes in contexts where both have co-developed historically.
The multilingual contexts of almost all WEs raise these macro-social and historical contact questions, but they also challenge us with the micro-social question of how English sits alongside other languages in moment-to-moment interaction. Barbara Bullock, Lars Hinrichs, and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio, in their chapter ‘World Englishes, Code-Switching, and Convergence’ examine this link between micro-interactional language choices and macro-social outcomes of language convergence. From the unusual viewpoint of the embedding of WE vernaculars at the community, individual, and interactional, the authors trace how the dynamics of relative prestige, stance, style, and identity give rise to new combinatorial practices, and ultimately—via convergence—to new language varieties.
The two chapters that follow deal with two core areas of sociolinguistics: ‘World Englishes and Sociolinguistic Theory’ by Devyani Sharma and ‘World Englishes and Dialectology’ by Liselotte Anderwald. Once again, these are two very closely linked research areas, with Anderwald’s chapter additionally picking up themes from Siemund and Davydova’s earlier coverage of typology and universals. Sharma considers the degree to which WEs fit six core principles, even axioms, of sociolinguistic theory. Where they do not, she suggests that WEs create the scope for rethinking aspects of the model with the more comprehensive cultural range that WEs offer. And where they do, she argues that these theoretical proposals can give better shape to interpretations of variation in WEs. Anderwald turns to the dialect typology of WEs. In a comprehensive overview of old and new approaches in the study of English variation, Anderwald highlights the importance of recent corpus work and historical sociolinguistic methods in pursuing questions of universals, diffusion, and modelling of fine-grained differences across grammars.
A final micro-interactional chapter by Yamuna Kachru, ‘World Englishes, Pragmatics, and Discourse’ considers the powerful potential of WEs to critique universalist models of politeness and other aspects of pragmatics and discourse. As a single (p. 7) language used across dramatically different cultures, English around the world allows an examination of diversity in systems of discourse pragmatics. Kachru’s chapter uses this diverse empirical base to take issue with some dimensions of a universalist view of face, politeness, and speech acts. She closes by considering further discourses and registers beyond conversational interaction that bear the hallmarks of their cultural contexts.
The final two chapters in Part II both deal with the profound question of ideologies surrounding English in postcolonial regions. Nevertheless, the approaches taken in Rakesh Bhatt’s chapter on ‘World Englishes and Language Ideologies’ and in Robert Phillipson and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas’s chapter on ‘English, Language Dominance, and Ecolinguistic Diversity Maintenance’ remain very distinct; indeed they stand in explicit contrast to one another in many ways. Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas focus resolutely on the dominance of English, its imperialist and linguicist antecedents, and the sometimes severe consequences for linguistic diversity. Bhatt too invokes ideological processes in the legitimization and rationalization of powerful standard varieties, but focuses particularly on complex hybridity in linguistic practices as countervailing forces and questions a coercive model of language power.
Part III—areal profiles—is an empirically oriented section that sets out in full detail the wealth of WEs phenomena across the globe. Importantly, however, these chapters keep the theoretical frames and challenges set out in Part II in sight in order to move towards broader generalizations and highlight the potential for pursuing particular theoretical questions.
Each chapter in Part III includes a concise socio-history of the region and a description of structure and variation in the English varieties present. Each chapter also explores more theoretically motivated questions such as descriptions of the substrate contexts that form the contact ecology, a consideration of shared and divergent linguistic features, and possible social or structural origins for these. Many of these comparative and more theoretical questions are taken up later in more detail in the case studies in Part IV.
Karen Corrigan’s ‘The Atlantic Archipelago of the British Isles’ opens Part III with a concise overview of contacts between English and other languages spoken in the British Isles, covering the history of the English language in the British Isles from the Saxonum in the fifth century to the present day. Corrigan focuses especially on Celtic Englishes and provides illuminating demographic evidence to assess the impact of migrants and population movement on the development of historical and contemporary dialects of English in the British Isles and Ireland, both in the Celtic regions and elsewhere.
Migration and rapid demographic changes also play an important role in Lauren Hall-Lew’s chapter on ‘English in North America’. Hall-Lew emphasizes the central role of dialect and language contact in the evolution of North American varieties of English from the time of the earliest Anglophone settlements to the post‒Second World War era. (p. 8) She also highlights the central role ‘nonstandard’ varieties of English have played in the development and definition of what constitutes North American English.
In the areal profile chapter on ‘The Caribbean’, Véronique Lacoste focuses on the English varieties spoken in the Anglophone Caribbean. While acknowledging that Caribbean Englishes and Creoles form a complex continuum, Lacoste focuses in her chapter on the standard and nonstandard varieties of English spoken in the Caribbean rather than the full continuum that includes English-based Creoles. Lacoste offers a review of some of the major historical processes in the emergence of local standard English varieties in the Caribbean, pointing out that though the definition of ‘standard’ remains problematic, a recognized local standard variety of English can be found in most Caribbean countries (though detailed descriptions of local Standard English varieties have only been developed for a few varieties to date).
In ‘Australian and New Zealand Englishes’, Laurie Bauer focuses on the commonalities and differences between the two varieties sharing a common inheritance. He identifies a number of parallel developments in Australian and New Zealand English, including the introduction of the High Rise Terminal intonation pattern, but concludes that the major differences between these two recent varieties can be found at the level of the sound system. Grammatical and lexical differences are so far less apparent, but Bauer predicts that divergent developments will lead to further differentiation between Australian and New Zealand English in the future.
The history and role of English in Asia is covered by two chapters. Ravinder Gargesh and Pingali Sailaja cover India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Afghanistan in their chapter on ‘South Asia’, while Lisa Lim focuses on Singapore English, Malaysian English, and Philippine English in her chapter on ‘Southeast Asia’. Both Gargesh and Sailaja and Lim emphasize the important role the multilingual context and diverse substrates have played in the development of Asian Englishes. Gargesh and Sailaja highlight the role of substrates for example in the development of the Indian English article system and the characteristic features of tag questions and question formation in general in South Asian Englishes, while Lim singles out tone and the development of tonal features in Southeast Asian Englishes as one of the most important ongoing changes in these New Englishes.
The next three chapters in Part III focus on the English language in Africa. Josef Schmied’s chapter on ‘East African English’ concentrates on what he defines as the ‘heartland’ of East Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Ulrike Gut, in ‘English in West Africa’, provides a discussion of the history and role of English in the seven anglophone countries in West Africa, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, the anglophone part of Cameroon, and the island of Saint Helena, while Bertus van Rooy covers ‘English in South Africa’. These three chapters highlight the wide variety of roles and functions English has in different parts of Africa. In East Africa, English has to compete with Kiswahili as the language of important national functions, as Schmied argues in his chapter. In the linguistically extremely diverse postcolonial Anglophone West Africa, however, the use of indigenous languages is restricted almost exclusively to home and informal settings, while English is the language used in official contexts and (p. 9) education. In South Africa again, where English is one of the eleven official languages, and the home language of around 10% of the population, English holds an important position as the language of government, education, business, and the media. According to van Rooy, there are clear indications of convergent developments in different varieties of South African English, which lead him to predict the emergence of a shared South African variety of English.
The chapter on ‘Isolated Varieties’ by Daniel Schreier and Danae Perez Inofuentes discusses the role of Sprachinseln and enclave communities in the evolution of varieties of English. The authors discuss a number of examples of enclave communities, including a case study of an Australian English enclave community in Paraguay, and argue that studies of language in isolation play an important role in the study of language obsolescence and death as well as the study of linguistic changes under contact conditions in general.
The final chapter in Part III, ‘English as a Lingua Franca in the Expanding Circle’ by Jennifer Jenkins, focuses on English as a contact language among Expanding Circle users of English representing different first-language backgrounds. Jenkins surveys the relatively short history of empirical studies of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), and concludes that despite the rapidly growing field of empirical ELF research, a number of central theoretical issues still need to be resolved. These include clarification of what constitutes an error in ELF use as compared to the concept of error in English as a Foreign Language use, the nature of ELF as a written variety (given that so far ELF studies have primarily focused on spoken language) and finally, given that ELF should not be understood as a variety of English, what is the proper way to address the issues of variation and variability in ELF communication in different parts of the world.
The final part of the volume, Part IV—case studies—brings together linguistic theories reviewed in Part II with the rich regional diversity across Englishes summarized in Part III. Each case study serves to illustrate the relevance of ongoing processes in World Englishes to core theoretical interest in linguistics, and the relevance of theoretical models to understanding World Englishes and their linguistic characteristics. In particular, the authors illustrate the importance of theoretical innovations developed in one area of linguistics to other areas, for instance, innovations in phonological theory or typology that can help account for contact outcomes.
The first three chapters in Part IV deal with the nature and outcomes of substratal influence on different varieties of English. First in this series is Carlos Gussenhoven’s ‘On the Intonation of Tonal Varieties of English’. It opens up a hitherto little researched perspective on World Englishes by providing detailed descriptions of the tone structures of three African and Asian varieties, namely, Nigerian, Ghanaian, and Cantonese English. In all three cases, the substrate languages are tone languages. On the basis of production and perception experiments with native speakers of these varieties, the author is able to demonstrate that they are tonal languages in the same way as their substrate languages. For instance, BrE words with initial stress have what Gussenhoven calls H[igh]-tone melodies, while other words have M[iddle]H or L[ow]H melodies. Another tonal feature of these varieties is that they vary in the use of final intonational (p. 10) boundary tones and the extent to which phonological downstep on H-tones is triggered by non-overt (floating) low tones (Nigerian and Ghanaian English) or by overt tones only (Cantonese English). Although the tonal varieties lack some of the intonation contrasts that characterize British English, they are here shown to have other structural contrasts that British English lacks.
The next chapter, by Caroline R. Wiltshire, is also concerned with the role of substrate languages and phonological theory, using Optimality Theory as the main theoretical framework. Here the data are drawn from Indian English spoken as a second language by speakers of five indigenous languages in India. The author’s aim is to illustrate and evaluate the role of the emergence of the unmarked (TETU) in phonological theory. TETU is a situation where some marked structure is generally allowed in a language, but ruled out in some particular contexts. In cases like this, the complementary unmarked structure is said to ‘emerge’. The phenomena studied are word-final consonant devoicing and cluster reduction. The five Indian first languages have various constraints for these, while Indian English is relatively unrestricted. The author argues that the variation in L2 Indian Englishes results from both transfer of L1 phonotactics and the emergence of the unmarked in the way predicted by Optimality Theory. The use of a learning algorithm also allows testing the relative importance of markedness and frequency as well as evaluating the relative markedness of various clusters. Thus, the data from Indian Englishes provide new insights into the form and function of markedness constraints, as well as the mechanisms of Second Language Acquisition (SLA).
With the third chapter, the focus is still on substratal transfer but is shifted from phonological theory to morphosyntax. Zhiming Bao discusses four grammatical systems in Singapore English (SingE) which, he argues, are transferred from Chinese: aspect, pragmatic particles, topicalization, and quantification. His analysis of these systems and of the relevant substrate features reveals the systemic nature of grammatical transfer: features which form a grammatical system are transferred together. The transferred system looks for and selects suitable morphosyntactic means of expression in the target language, dropping those candidate features for which the target language (i.e., English as the lexifier in this case) has no well-formed morphosyntactic exponent. The author further argues that post-transfer stabilization of a transferred feature or a system is subject to the normative effect of English.
The following four chapters report on comparative studies of varieties of English from different perspectives. Markku Filppula’s chapter, entitled ‘Convergent Developments between “Old” and “New” Englishes’, focuses on some syntactic features shared by ‘Old’ and ‘New’ varieties of English. This distinction is here used in a special sense, with ‘Old’ referring to the oldest varieties of English (viz., those spoken in Britain): English English (EngE) and/or British English (BrE). They are part of the hard core of the L1 or the ‘Inner Circle’ of Englishes. ‘New’ varieties, by contrast, are ones that have arisen in colonial or postcolonial contexts and are hence ‘New’ as compared with the Old varieties. They also comprise historically L2 varieties, such as Irish English, that have evolved as a result of language shift. This chapter focuses on three ongoing syntactic changes that display convergent developments between the New and Old varieties: the use of some (p. 11) modal auxiliaries, especially will/shall, some ‘extended’ uses of the progressive, and finally, combinations of these two, especially will/shall + be V-ing. Interestingly, the results suggest that the leading role in these developments is played by the New Englishes rather than the less innovative Old varieties, which manifest similar changes but to a somewhat lesser extent.
Also dealing with colonial Englishes, the next chapter, ‘Retention and Innovation in Settler Englishes’, by Raymond Hickey discusses the transportation of English overseas in the colonial period, between approximately 1600 and 1900. Hickey examines how settlers from different parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland transported diverse varieties of English to their destination countries in America or Australia. More specifically, he seeks to find out the extent to which features of English input to new overseas varieties were retained and what factors were instrumental in this process (e.g., whether the areas are relic or diaspora locations). Further issues considered are, for example, focusing, reanalysis of variation, internal dialect patterning, and the refunctionalization and reallocation of features. Innovation, as the reverse process of retention, is also discussed, specifically the internal and external motivation for it. In addition, this chapter looks at shared innovations across the Anglophone world. Finally, Hickey assesses the validity of various theoretical models suggested in the literature for accounting for the genesis of new varieties of English.
Nonstandard features shared across L1 and L2 varieties and learner English, so-called ‘angloversals’, are discussed in the co-authored chapter by Lea Meriläinen and Heli Paulasto. The title ‘Embedded Inversion as an Angloversal: Evidence from Inner, Outer, and Expanding Circle Englishes’ already reveals that this chapter seeks to build a bridge between research into World Englishes and learner English. Meriläinen and Paulasto examine whether Embedded Inversion (EI) behaves similarly in L1, L2, and learner Englishes and, hence, whether it is a development shared across varieties throughout the world. The use of EI is analysed in terms of the emerging commonalities as well as variety-specific or L1-specific uses. The findings show that EI is found in different types of Englishes, but apparent similarities also conceal patterns of contact-induced variation. This is interpreted as evidence for the interplay between universal tendencies and transfer effects.
Sebastian Hoffmann, Anne-Katrin Blass, and Joybrato Mukherjee are the authors of the next chapter, entitled ‘Canonical Tag Questions in Asian Englishes: Forms, Functions, and Frequencies in Hong Kong English, Indian English, and Singapore English’. Their study provides a comparative study of canonical tag questions in Hong Kong, Indian, and Singapore English on the basis of the respective spoken components of the International Corpus of English (ICE). These three postcolonial Asian Englishes represent different phases in the evolutionary model of variety-formation proposed by Schneider (2003, 2007)—now standardly referred to as the Dynamic Model. The present-day manifestation of the shared historical input variety, British English, is used in this study as a basis of comparison. Differences across the four varieties at issue in terms of forms, functions, and frequencies of tag questions are described and interpreted from a variational-pragmatic perspective. The results reveal considerable (p. 12) differences between the varieties. Singapore English, which represents the highest stage of development according to Schneider’s Dynamic Model, turns out to display preferences that diverge most from the patterns of use in British English. This suggests that the development of New Englishes involves a process of ‘pragmatic nativization’, which is a parallel phenomenon to well-documented processes of structural nativization.
The final two chapters in Part IV bring in interesting new theoretical aspects to the study of World Englishes. First, ‘Are Constructions Dialect-Proof? The Challenge of English Variational Data for Construction Grammar Research’, by Debra Ziegeler, outlines possible problems that may arise from applying a construction grammar approach to the study of World Englishes. With Singapore English as her base for comparison, Ziegeler discusses construction types such as the progressive construction, the ‘false’ transitive construction, and the bare nominal construction (BNC). The main question addressed is whether constructions in contact situations can be seen as constructions of the lexifier source language or of the substrate language(s) which usually provide the syntactic source for construction types. She also discusses the notion of ‘coercion’, often associated with construction analysis, and proposes that such a notion need not be evoked at all, given the hypothesis of ‘merger’ constructions, which in many cases can justify the selection of an ambiguous syntactic form across dialects by accommodating two (allo-construction) variants of the same construction type.
Finally in Part IV, ‘Second-Order Language Contact English as an Academic Lingua Franca’, by Anna Mauranen, discusses the nature of lingua franca English (ELF) as a uniquely complex instance of ‘second-order language contact’, which arises from contact between ‘similects’ of speakers from given first-language backgrounds. The data for this study are drawn from speech in academic communities. ELF is best understood as operating on three levels: the macro-social, the micro-social, and the cognitive. English as a lingua franca is largely similar to English as a native language in comparable social circumstances, but it also manifests lexico-grammatical features that are clearly different: nonstandard grammatical and lexical forms are relatively common, together with lexical simplification which manifests itself in statistical comparisons. As speakers make use of diverse discourse phenomena to achieve communicative success, lexico-grammatical accuracy is often sacrificed as being less crucial to communication. The findings of the study lend support to models which see language processes as discourse-driven, fuzzy and approximate, with a high level of tolerance for variability in form.
The special set-up of this volume and its emphasis on the nexus between data-driven research and linguistic theory has been designed so as to best serve the current needs of both students and researchers of World Englishes alike. Providing empirical data from a wide range of varieties and, more important, by setting and interpreting these from a wider theoretical perspective, we hope to offer readers new ideas about ways in which data can be brought together with linguistic theories to enrich our understanding of the genesis and patterns of development of World Englishes.
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Schneider, E.W. (2007) Postcolonial English: Varieties around the world, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Find this resource: