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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: September 2020

2 - English in England: The Parent Perspective

Summary

INTRODUCTION

This chapter focuses specifically on English in England (EE). This territorial concentration deliberately cuts through the complexities of terms relating to the constituent members of ‘the United Kingdom’ and of ‘the British Isles’ (which are not the same thing – see section 2 below); in doing so avoiding grouping under one all-embracing and quite misleading name Englishes that are to be found in disparate (if politically conjoined) geopolitical entities. Further, it enables consideration of the relationship which EE has had with those other neighbouring Englishes. The overall intention is to make observations which might be relevant on the wider World Englishes stage. To this end, sections 3 to 10 conclude with ‘Reflections’ arising from their individual content, the aim of which is to draw conclusions from what has immediately preceded them and to suggest matters which might be addressed by others when postcolonial Englishes (PCEs) and non-postcolonial Englishes (non-PCEs) are being modelled. In no way should the reflections be considered obligatory to the analytic process: to many they will certainly not be a revelation, but some at least might be found helpful in furthering development of a World Englishes model as a whole.

ENGLISH AT HOME

The briefest of visits to the distinctions inherent in the political organisation of the British Isles should suffice to establish that English on its native turf is far from uniform at anything other than a quite meaninglessly coarse level of granularity. England, Wales and Scotland together properly constitute ‘Great Britain’, and together with Northern Ireland these constitute ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, simply ‘the UK’. These came together politically long after English began its career in England itself. And these alone are not ‘the British Isles’, the term properly embracing two states, the UK and the Republic of Ireland, or Eire. The latter was once part of the UK, but for long now it has been quite separate. Each part of the UK and Eire has its own linguistically expressed identity, with numerous regional and social divisions evident in myriad linguistic permutations. This diversity, born of a long history of conflict and alliance spawning countless (a word carefully chosen) standard and non-standard dialects, cannot be overstated.