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This chapter documents the globally leading status of English and investigates reasons for this. It is argued that the layperson explanation that English is 'easy' to learn fails as an explanation and that 'classic' reasons brought forward by Crystal (2009), English having been available 'at the right time and the right place' as the language of British colonialism, industrialization and American dominance, is valid but insufficient. It is supplemented by wider perspectives on the process of colonization, the role of English in modernization and globalization, the importance of its ethnic neutrality in some countries, and its massive spread as 'New Englishes' especially in Asia and Africa. Historians' accounts are screened for a comparison of the developments of English versus Spanish in colonization, and it is shown that, while both nations successfully built empires around the globe, only the British replenished their colonies with large settler streams and thus produced copies of the homeland society in foreign lands and established permanent ties with them. Finally, the recent past has experienced an unparalleled 'transnational attraction' of English which has boosted its role.
In January 2021, Singapore's national performing arts center ‘Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’, known especially for the high-quality acoustics of its concert hall, ran a special program called ‘All Things New’, featuring concerts and other art performances. It was advertised on location (see Figure 1), by a leaflet (Figure 2), and in a one-minute video (https://www.esplanade.com/festivals-and-series/all-things-new/2021) also shared on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U-7Yw9sTPs), and introduced young artists and bands who performed on the institution's ‘Concourse’ and its open stage called ‘Outdoor Theatre’ (for an example, see Figure 3).
This paper advocates the theory of 'Complex Dynamic Systems', developed in the sciences as a suitable framework for the understanding of the evolution of varieties and uses of English through time and space. After looking into earlier applications of this theory in linguistics, it surveys core properties of such systems and illustrates their relevance by applications to specific processes of change in the history of English. It then investigates processes of lexicosemantic diffusion and syntactic restructuring in World Englishes within this framework, trying to document its applicability.
This chapter documents the historical background and the current usage conditions of English in postcolonial countries where English holds a strong position as a widely used second language, notably in West and East Africa, in South and South-East Asia, and in the Pacific region. Case studies focus more closely on Nigerian English (including a sample text of news in Nigerian Pidgin English, with linguistic explanations), on English in Singapore (also with a recording, transcript and linguistic analysis of a sample, a conversation in "Singlish") and on Tok Pisin, an English-derived pidgin which is a national language in Papua New Guinea (also with a sample text, an election poster). To these world regions English was brought as the language of traders and missionaries, and later administrators and soldiers. Interestingly enough, the diffusion of English to these countries has gained special momentum only fairly recently, after the end of the colonial period, in the wake of globalization. The last section continues this exploration by describing the growing role of English in non-postcolonial countries in East Asia, with brief looks at Japan and South Korea and an extensive case study, including samples of Chinese English, of English in China.
The global spread of English has had widespread linguistic, social, and cultural implications, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. This textbook provides a lively and accessible introduction to world Englishes, describing varieties used in regions as diverse as America, the Caribbean, Australia, Africa, and Asia, and setting them within their historical and social contexts. Students are guided through the material with chapter summaries, discussion questions and exercises, and a comprehensive glossary, helping them to understand different varieties of English. The second edition is substantially updated, including new sections on English as a Lingua Franca, blurring boundaries, and research methods and resources. The book is accompanied by a useful website, containing textual and audio examples of the varieties introduced in the text. Providing essential knowledge and skills for those embarking on the study of world Englishes, this is a timely update of the leading introduction to the subject.
This chapter describes the earliest and most deeply rooted processes of colonization which have shaped the English language, in what used to be known as the “Old World” and the “New World.” British English itself is shown to be a product of Germanic tribes colonizing the British Isles and of incorporating structural and lexical influences from a wide array of languages – Celtic first, Latin repeatedly in different contexts, Scandinavian in a very intense union, French in a markedly diglossic situation after the Norman Conquest, and many other languages thereafter. American English and its main varieties – regional, social, and ethnic ones – are shown to stem from settlement streams, migration and mixing, nationalistic tendencies, and ethnic integration and accommodation. The language situation of the English-speaking Caribbean, finally, has resulted from patchwork-like settlement patterns and political conflicts, the blend of European and African components in plantation settings, slavery and creolization, and post-Emancipation and post-Independence transformations towards regional pride and modernity. The sociohistorical survey of these three major world regions are supplemented by extensive case studies and discussions of regional language settings and language samples from these regions, often with recordings, namely from England's North, the American South, and Jamaica.
The concluding chapter broadly surveys the global diffusion of English which has resulted in new, localized versions of the language, a process often labeled "glocalization". It calls for respect for social and linguistic diversity.
This chapter addresses a number of basic facts about how languages work, and these are applied to the evolution of English in its global context. A few basic notions are introduced and defined – including dialect, accent, and variety. Widespread prejudices as to language “correctness” are compared to the notion of communicative adequacy in given contexts. All languages are found to vary, i.e. there is typically a choice between alternative realizations of linguistic entities on the language levels of pronunciation (phonetics and phonology), vocabulary (lexis), and grammar (syntax). Global varieties of English show variation on each of these levels, which can be explained by processes and principles of language change and language contact between speakers of different languages who communicate with each other and transfer forms from one language to another in bilingual or multilingual minds. Conceptualizations and categorization frameworks for the new varieties of English around the globe are introduced, including the ENL-ESL-EFL distinction and Kachru’s “Three Circles” model, as well as the “Dynamic Model” which suggests five subsequent developmental stages which newly emerging postcolonial varieties typically go through.
This chapter provides a brief, non-technical introduction to the strictly linguistic aspects of the evolution of World Englishes: the reasons for the fact that New Englishes have developed distinctive forms of their own, and the processes that have brought these new properties about. These speech forms and habits are shown to be products of language contact situations, with features of indigenous languages taken over into local forms of English, and an interplay of language-internal (such as effects of cognition, tendencies towards simplicity, regularity, or assigning a functional load to language forms) and extralinguistic factors (including demographic proportions, power relationships, prestige and social attitudes and identities). Secondly, it is shown that World Englishes share not only such evolutionary trajectories but also specific forms and features on the levels of vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar (such as reduced or modified vowel and sound systems, semantic shifting and typical word-formation processes, or characteristic grammatical innovations, often starting out at the interface between lexis and grammar). All linguistic forms brought into a contact situation constitute a "pool" of linguistic options, of which some then are successfully selected to become elements of a newly-emerging dialect of English.