Braj Kachru, Asian Englishes: Beyond the canon. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2005. Pp xxiv, 333. Pb. $27.95.>
Yamuna Kachru & Cecil Nelson, World Englishes in Asian contexts. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2006. Pp. xxiv, 412. Pb. $32.50.
Rana Rubdy & Mario Saraceni (eds.) English in the world: Global rules, global roles. London: Continuum, 2006. 218 pp. Pb. £30.00.
With the growth of Asia's manufacturing and service industries, the prediction that China and India, respectively, will have the first and third largest global economies within 30 years, a population that comprises over 50% of the world's people, and massive English language programs throughout the region, it is no surprise that the role of English in Asia has become a major concern. At a recent (2006) Asia TEFL conference in Japan, the notions of Asian English(es), along with Asian methodologies and Asian knowledge, were topics of considerable discussion. The size and diversity of Asia, however, makes it a very difficult entity to define: The Asia TEFL conference included delegates from Israel and Iran, and two of the books under review here, Braj Kachru's Asian Englishes: Beyond the canon (AEBC) and Yamuna Kachru & Cecil Nelson's World Englishes in Asian contexts (WEAC), include (with identical maps) Australia and New Zealand. In some ways, the idea of Asia is defined by what it is not: Europe and North America. It is also not, of course, South America or Africa, though with WEAC containing a chapter on African Englishes (as well as African American Vernacular English, or AAVE), it seems as if they might be allowed in. It is clear nevertheless that various notions of Asia – as an economic zone, as a cultural entity, and as a user of a type or types of English – are widely used. We need to take the notion of Asia and Asian English(es) seriously, if only to try to understand what is meant by Braj Kachru's explanation that AEBC is “essentially about the Asianness in Asian Englishes and their gradual, yet marked, distinctiveness” (p. xv).