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World Englishes

May 5, 2013

Name: Fatimah
NIM: 2201410061
World Englishes
Simpson, James.2011.The Routledge Handbook of Applied Linguistics. New York: Routledge
This chapter shows, first, that there are many Englishes, not just one. Next, debates concerning the motivations for language change in New Englishes and examples of a few innovative linguistic features in those varieties are provided. Then, the developmental stages in the emergence of New Englishes are discussed. Finally, recent developments, including the role of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) and the influence of new technology are investigated.

Models of World Englishes
There have been many models that represent the nature of Englishes around the world; the most influential model is Kachru’s Three Circles of English. Here is his theory and its country example:

The current sociolinguistic profile of English may be viewed in terms of three concentric circles … The Inner Circle refers to the traditional cultural and linguistic bases of English [e.g. Britain, USA, Australia]. The Outer Circle represents the institutionalized non-native varieties (ESL) in the regions that have passed through extended periods of colonization [e.g. Singapore, India, Nigeria] … The Expanding Circle includes the regions where the performance varieties of the language are used essentially in EFL contexts [e.g. China, Japan, Egypt].(Kachru 1992c: 356–7)

The terms ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in this extract refer to the traditional classification which Kachru challenged. His great contribution to the field lay in recognizing the development of many different varieties of English, so the language should not be seen in terms of a single monolithic standard. Instead, as there is a multitude of different Englishes, variation is the norm.

Linguistic motivations
A fundamental principle in the study of World Englishes is that variation and change are natural and inevitable (Kirkpatrick 2007a). As a consequence, linguistic features which differ from Standard English are not necessarily errors but may instead represent components of a New English.
Linguistic variation, Inner-Circle Englishes, and New Englishes are characterized by variation, not just in pronunciation and vocabulary, but grammar as well.
Mesthrie and Bhatt (2008) propose that New Englishes can be classified as either ‘deleters’ or ‘preservers’ (2008: 90–2). Deleters are varieties whose speakers commonly leave out grammatical elements, while preservers are those in which deletion is less common.
Kortmann (2010) said that whether it is a high or low-contact Inner-Circle variety, an indigenized Outer-Circle variety, a pidgin or a creole is a better predictor of its morphosyntactic features than the part of the world where it is spoken.

Linguistic features: some examples

a. Dental fricatives

One of the most common features of New Englishes is the tendency to avoid using /θ/ and /ð/. However, although it is true that avoidance of dental fricatives is found in Inner-Circle varieties, this phenomenon is almost certainly currently more widespread in New Englishes.

b. Final consonant clusters

Word-final consonant clusters are commonly simplified in New Englishes, often involving the omission of the final consonant, especially if it is a plosive.
This process is reinforced by the phonological shape of words that are borrowed from English into the local language. For instance, Standard Malay has borrowed many words from English in which a final plosive is dropped if the word ends with a consonant cluster. Examples include lif (‘lift’), pos (‘post’), hos (‘host’), kos (‘cost’), arkitek (‘architect’), saintis (‘scientist’), setem (‘stamp’) and kem (‘camp’) (Collins 2002), and it is not surprising that this final consonant is also often omitted when the same words are pronounced in English.

c. Rhythm

While stress-based rhythm is often claimed to be the basis of English speech timing in most Inner-Circle varieties, use of syllable-based rhythm is widely reported for New Englishes. It is often still asserted that languages may be placed along a continuum of stress-/syllabletiming (Dauer 1983).

d. Absence of tense marking

The absence of the present tense -s inflection is reported in many Englishes. In addition, many speakers of New Englishes see no need to mark the past tense of verbs once the time frame of an event has been established. Another factor that may influence the use of tenses in Singapore English is the nature of the verb.

e. Count/non-count nouns

Some distinctions between count and non-count nouns in Inner-Circle Englishes are rather idiosyncratic. For example, furniture and luggage are treated as mass nouns, but there really does not seem to be any logical reason why we should not count items of furniture or pieces of luggage. The widespread occurrence of furnitures and similar words therefore seems a classic case where New Englishes may be hastening the process of regularizing the language.

f. Invariant tags
The use of invariant tags is a common simplification strategy that is being adopted in a wide range of different places.

g. Topic prominence
– In many New Englishes, the topic tends to be placed clearly out at the front of the sentence.
– Sometimes, topic fronting is followed by a resumptive pronoun.
While topic fronting is not an example of simplification, it seems to be a natural process in human language, and perhaps its widespread occurrence in New Englishes may have a substantial influence on the discourse structures that become increasingly favored and accepted as mainstream in World Englishes.

h. General trends in linguistic features
One characteristic of many shared features is that they tend to simplify and/ or regularize English. Simplifying and regularizing innovations are ones that have a good chance of becoming adopted as standard when a language evolves, and we suggest that New Englishes may be leading the way in this respect.
We can regard this use of close rather than closed as illustrating both simplification (it is easier to say, as the word-final consonant cluster is avoided) and also regularization (it is consistent with the use of open). And this is just the kind of change that we might expect to find adopted in Standard English one day.

Stages in the development of New Englishes

Kachru (1992b: 56) suggested that New Englishes pass through three stages. The first is marked by non-acceptance of the emerging variety, with locals preferring the colonial or relevant Inner-Circle variety. The second stage sees local and imported varieties existing side-by-side. Finally, the local variety becomes accepted as the standard.
Schneider (2007: 56) identifies five stages in the developmental cycle:
• Foundation: English first arrives in the area.
• Exonormative Stabilization: standards are provided by the colonial variety.
• Nativization: bilingual and multilingual speakers create a new local variety of English which is influenced by the linguistic systems and cultural norms of the speakers’ first languages.
• Endonormative Stabilization: the new variety becomes socially accepted and provides the classroom model.
• Differentiation: the new variety itself develops sub-varieties.
It can be seen that the varieties of English can reach Schneider’s final stage of differentiation linguistically, but sociolinguistically they remain at an earlier stage when language planners are not prepared to accept local varieties as classroom models.

Recent developments

A lingua franca can be defined as ‘a language that is used for communication between different groups of people, each speaking a different language’ (Richards et al. 1985: 214).
ELF is now the most common use of English in the world (Jenkins 2007), so a study of its linguistic features and the ways it allows people to achieve successful intercultural communication offers insights about international communication and also guidelines for English language teaching.
Although ELF shares some grammatical and phonological features with New Englishes (Deterding and Kirkpatrick 2006), ELF speakers generally avoid the use of local lexis and idioms (Kirkpatrick 2007b). This is a key distinction between World Englishes and ELF, as one fundamental role of World Englishes lies in their ability to reflect local phenomena and cultural values, often through the use of borrowings from local languages. In contrast, this is avoided in ELF communication, where the fundamental role is to facilitate cross-cultural communication.
ELF clearly has a major role to play in the modern world, and the choice of English is often seen as natural.
While the choice of English may seem natural and the demand for it ever increasing, one key question is the extent to which the need for English will lead to equality or perpetuate further inequality (Pennycook 2010). Graddol (2006), however, envisages that it is those who only have English who may be disadvantaged in future.

The influence of new technology
New technology has had a big influence on the development of worldwide varieties of English.
In the modern world, we similarly find that facilities for communicating over a long distance, for recording data, and for sharing information via the Internet are having a profound impact on the evolution of World Englishes, as new words and ways of expressing oneself that arise in one society can easily spread elsewhere. However, at the same time, each variety of
English can develop its own idiosyncratic forms of expression, and new media that can facilitate the establishment of these local features within a society. New technology therefore helps maintain a balance between global and local features in the development of World Englishes (Pennycook 2007).
One other aspect of new technology relevant for research into World Englishes is electronic corpora. It referred to earlier offer researchers the opportunity to investigate English usage in Continental Europe.


1. Q: In which countries do place the use of initial /θ/ into /t/? For example the word three that should be read / θ ri:/ change to be /tri:/
A: the countries that place the use of initial /θ/ into /t/ are as Singapore the Philippines Brunei, Ghana, The Bahamas, and India.
2. Q: Give examples of Standard Malay that has borrowed many words from English in which a final plosive is dropped if the word ends with a consonant cluster?
A: the examples are lif (‘lift’), pos (‘post’), hos (‘host’), kos (‘cost’), arkitek (‘architect’), saintis (‘scientist’), setem (‘stamp’) and kem (‘camp’), etc.

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