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ASSESSING WORLD ENGLISHES

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2009


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Abstract

English worldwide may be viewed in terms of spread and of diffusion. Spread refers to the use in different global contexts, such as publishing and examinations, of Standard British or American English. Diffusion describes the emergence of local varieties of English in, for example, India or Singapore, comparable to the earlier emergence of Australian English, Canadian English, and so on. In nonformal settings, interlocutors make use of their own local variety of English, their World Englishes (WEs). In formal settings, notably in English language assessment, it seems that the norm appealed to is still that of Standard British or American English. Since English as a lingua franca (ELF) appears to make use only of the spoken medium, there is less of a demand for an ELF written norm. At present what seems to hold back the use of local WEs norms in formal assessment is less the hegemony of Western postcolonial and economic power and more the uncertainty of local stakeholders.


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Research Article
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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