In this chapter …
The evolution of World Englishes has widely affected and modified long-standing social patterns and modes of behavior, transforming the lives of many people from one generation to another. Thus, it is a process of great cultural and political significance in many countries, and so, not surprisingly, it has been the subject of much debate. Some of the general social issues under discussion are outlined in this chapter, from a position which attempts to remain as neutral as possible. Topics will include the following:
• the association of English with “elitism” in some countries as against its uncontrolled spread also among lower-class, uneducated speakers;
• the claim that English has “killed” indigenous languages and is to be blamed for the global loss of linguistic diversity;
• the question of whether an “International English” exists or would be desirable;
• the debate about endonormativity (i.e., whether local forms of English could constitute acceptable targets) in education;
• the role of local forms of English to express local identities;
• the changing status of the notion of “native speaker of English”;
• the amazingly wide spread of mixed language forms; and
• the relationship between Applied Linguistics and strategies of language teaching.
Getting ahead with English: the tension between elitism and grassroots spread
Who are the primary users of English in Outer Circle countries today? Actually, this is no longer as easy a question to answer as it may seem. The most natural and immediate response would be that these are upper class people, the leading strata in a society.