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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: September 2012

6 - Language contact and language acquisition issues in New English research



This chapter is concerned with issues pertaining to the acquisition of New Englishes. Our first task is to locate New Englishes as a class within the wider field of language contact. In particular we examine the views of scholars who see considerable overlaps between New Englishes and other contact varieties like Creoles. This necessitates a closer look at the role and nature of the superstrate, at the role and nature of substrate languages and at the possibility of ‘universals’ of language contact. However, since – unlike most contact varieties – New Englishes are to a large extent the products of educational systems, they also warrant an examination in terms of findings in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Finally, since some New Englishes are showing signs of becoming first languages for some of their users, certain perspectives from the study of language shift are necessary. Most studies concerned with these issues have focused on the syntax of specific New Englishes. We begin with the field of SLA.


Given that New Englishes arose mainly in situations of bilingualism stimulated by classroom education, it is a natural expectation that they should be characterised, especially at earlier stages of development, in terms of the processes of SLA. To date this is an under-researched area in New English studies. Sridhar and Sridhar (1986) referred to this lack of interface between SLA studies and New English as ‘a paradigm gap’.

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