WORLD ENGLISHES

Niken Larasati Wening

2201410009

World Englishes

  1. 1.    Introduction

The expression “world Englishes” is capable of a range of meanings and interpretations. In the first sense, perhaps, the term functions as an umbrella label referring to a wide range of differing approaches to the description and analysis of English(es) worldwide. Some scholars, for example, favor a discussion of “world English” in the singular, and also employ terms such as “global English” and “international English,” while others adopt the same terms in their plural forms. Indeed, in recent years, a plethora of terminology has come into use, including: English as an international (auxiliary) language, global English(es), international English(es), localized varieties of English, new varieties of English, non-native varieties of English, second language varieties of English, world English(es), new Englishes, alongside such more traditional terms as ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language).

In a second narrower sense, the term is used to specifically refer to the “new Englishes found in the Caribbean and in West African and East African societies such as Nigeria and Kenya, and to such Asian Englishes as Hong Kong English, Indian English, Malaysian English, Singaporean English, and Philippine English. Typically studies of this kind focus on the areal characteristics of national or regional Englishes, with an emphasis on the linguistic description of autonomous varieties of Englishes. In a third sense, world Englishes refers to the wide-ranging approach to the study of the English language worldwide particularly associated with Braj B. Kachru and other scholars working in a “world Englishes paradigm.

When Kachru and Smith took over the editorship of the journal World Language English in 1985, it was retitled to World Englishes, and Kachru and Smith’s explanation for this was that World Englishes embodies “a new idea, a new credo,” for which the plural “Englishes” was significant:

“Englishes” symbolizes the functional and formal variation in the language, and its international acculturation, for example, in West Africa, in Southern Africa, in East Africa, in South Asia, in Southeast Asia, in the West Indies, in the Philippines, and in the traditional English-using countries: the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The language now belongs to those who use it as their first language, and to those who use it as an additional language, whether in its standard form or in its localized forms. (Kachru & Smith, 1985, p. 210)

2. The English Studies Approach

The “English Studies” approach to world Englishes has developed historically from the description of English tradition, which dates back at least to the late nineteenth century and the work of scholars such as Henry Bradley (1845–1923), Otto Jespersen (1860–1943), Daniel Jones (1881–1967), Charles Talbut Onions (1873–1965), Henry Sweet (1845–1912), and Henry Wyld (1870– 1945). More recently, this approach may be exemplified by the work of contemporary British linguists, such as Robert Burchfield, David Crystal, Sidney Greenbaum, Tom McArthur, Randolph Quirk, and John Wells. Randolph Quirk was one of the first in the contemporary period to discuss varieties of English and the notion of “standards” of world English in his 1962 book, The Use of English. His Grammar of Contemporary English (Quirk et al., 1972) also surveyed varieties of English, although here the aim was to differentiate the “common core” of the language from such classes of variety as “regional,” “educational,” “social,” as well as varieties according to “subject matter,” “medium,” “attitude,” and “interference” (pp. 13–32).        Quirk later (1990) assumed the role of a guardian of international “standards” of English and was drawn into a celebrated debate with Braj Kachru on “liberation linguistics,” but one obvious irony here is that Quirk seems to have begun his academic life as a “linguistic liberal,” with his 1962 essay arguing for tolerance and noting that: English is not the prerogative or “possession” of the English . . . Acknowledging this must – as a corollary – involve our questioning the propriety of claiming that the English of one area is more “correct” than the English of another. Certainly, we must realize that there is no single “correct” English, and no single standard of correctness. (Quirk, 1962, pp. 17–18).

Some 20 years on, his 1990 paper was to see him arguing a rather different case, urging overseas teachers of English to keep in constant touch with “native speaker” norms, and praising the merits of a world “Standard English.”

 

3. Sociolinguistic Approaches to World Englishes

Sociolinguistic approaches to world English(es) may be regarded as subsuming four types of studies: (1) the sociology of language (Fishman, Cooper, & Conrad, 1977; Fishman, Conrad, & Robal-Lopez, 1996); (2) “features-based” approaches to world English(es) (Cheshire, 1991a; Trudgill & Hannah, 1994, etc.); (3) Kachruvian studies (Kachru, 1992, etc.); and (4) pidgin and creole studies (Todd, 1984, etc.).

3.1 The sociology of language

Two books by Joshua A. Fishman and his associates (Fishman, Cooper, & Conrad, 1977 and Fishman, Conrad, & Rubal-Lopez, 1996) have provided sociologically-detailed treatments of “the spread of English” and “postimperial English” respectively. These studies were published 20 years apart, and the data cited, and commentaries given, chart a number of developments in the spread of English in the world. The 1977 volume addressed a number of topics, and also attempted to identify the relevant sociopolitical predictors of the use of English in postcolonial societies (former anglophone colonial status, linguistic diversity, religious composition, and educational and economic development).

Fishman also noted that the “international sociolinguistic balance” at that time rested on three factors: (1) the spread of English; (2) the control of English; and (3) the fostering of vernacular languages (Fishman, 1977, p. 335). Twenty years later in Post-Imperial English Fishman and his colleagues (Fishman, Conrad, & Rubal-Lopez, 1996) returned to a consideration of some of the same issues. In the first chapter (“Introduction: Some empirical and theoretical issues”), Fishman (1996a) poses three questions: is English “still” spreading in the non-English mother tongue world, is that continued spread in any way directly orchestrated by, fostered by, or exploitatively beneficial to the English mother tongue world? (to be judged); and, third, are there forces or processes that transcend the English mother tongue world itself and which also contribute to the continued spread and entrenchment of English in non-English mother tongue countries. Fishman suggests that English is now less “an imperialist tool” and more “a multinational tool”

 

 

3.2 “Features-based” approaches

In contrast to the sociology of language approach to world Englishes, a “features-based” approach has typically involved the linguist in identifying and making statements about the distinctive features of varieties in terms of pronunciation or “accent” (phonology), vocabulary (lexis), or grammar (morphology and syntax). One leading example of this approach is Trudgill and Hannah’s International English (1994, first edition published 1982) which describes “standard varieties” of English in terms of “differences at the level of phonetics, phonology, grammar and vocabulary” (p. 3). International English uses tape-recordings of English speech from Australia, India, Ireland, New Zealand, North America, Scotland, South Africa, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. The third edition added an expanded section on creoles, as well as descriptions of Singapore and Philippine English.

3.3 The Kachruvian approach

The work of Braj B. Kachru in this field is of central and enduring importance, and the influence of the Kachruvian approach to world Englishes (WE) extends across a range of subdisciplines including applied linguistics, critical linguistics, descriptive linguistics, discourse analysis, and educational linguistics.

Indeed, the coining and promotion of the term “world Englishes” is chiefly associated with Braj Kachru, Yamuna Kachru, Larry Smith, and a sizable number of other academics who have adopted a world Englishes approach to research and teaching in this field. Kachru himself has had an enormous influence on such work. In addition to his many books and articles and his editorship of World Englishes, Kachru is also responsible for anchoring the annual conferences on world Englishes held by the International Association for World Englishes (IAWE), which provide a forum for research, discussion, and debate.

The issue concerning “the two faces of English: nativization and Englishization” focuses on the reciprocal effects of language contact: i.e., the effect on English in a localized context (nativization), and the effect on local languages in the same situation (Englishization). Instances of the borrowing of English vocabulary into local languages include Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, and many other societies around the world, but Englishization also extends to the level of grammar, as in the adoption of impersonal constructions in Indian languages; or the use of the passive constructions with a “by” equivalent in Korean, both of which have been traced to English.

3.4 Pidgin and creole studies

There have been periodic discussions in the last 20 years in the field of world Englishes about the relationship between such new Englishes and the study of English-based pidgins and creoles. As the study of world English(es) took off in the 1980s, the specialist journals in the field had to decide on how to deal with pidgin and creole varieties. Görlach (1980, p. 6) argues that because of the continua that exist in many societies linking pidgins and creoles with standard languages, their study “can therefore with some justification be regarded as being part of English or French or Portuguese studies, as is the study of the respective dialects,” citing Krio, Tok Pisin, and Sranan as cases in point. Over the years, Görlach published many such papers on English-based pidgins and creoles, and McArthur’s English Today has opted for a similar editorial policy, as has the journal World Englishes, with at least one special issue devoted to the topic (Mufwene, 1997).

4. Applied Linguistic Approaches

One of the first “applied linguistic approaches” to varieties of world English began in the 1960s with the work of Halliday, MacIntosh, and Strevens (1964), who sought to apply insights derived from “the linguistic sciences” to the newly-emergent field of applied linguistics, which in Britain and the USA was broadly concerned with theories of language learning, language teaching, and language pedagogy. In section 6 of the book the authors discussed the use of varieties of English around the world, noting that “during the period of colonial rule it seemed totally obvious and immutable that the form of English used by professional people in England was the only conceivable model for use in education overseas” (Halliday, MacIntosh, & Strevens, 1964, p. 292)

Prator’s central argument is that “in a country where English is not spoken natively but is widely used as the medium of instruction, to set up the local variety of English as the ultimate model to be imitated by those learning the language” is “unjustifiable intellectually and not conducive to the best possible results” (Prator, 1968, p. 459). He identifies seven fallacies associated with the British heresy: (1) that second language varieties of English can legitimately be equated with mother tongue varieties; (2) that second language varieties of English really exist as coherent, homogeneous linguistic systems, describable in the usual way as the speech of an identifiable social group; (3) that a few minor concessions in the type of English taught in schools would tend to or suffice to stabilize the language; (4) that one level of a language, its phonology, can be allowed to change without entailing corresponding changes at other levels; (5) that it would be a simple matter to establish a second language variety of English as an effective instructional model once it had been clearly identified and described; (6) that students would long be content to study English in a situation in which, as a matter of policy, they were denied access to a native speaker model; and that (7) granting a second language variety of English official status in a country’s schools would lead to its widespread adoption as a mother tongue.

5. The Lexicographical Approach

The domestic English dictionary tradition as exemplified by Samuel Johnson’s (1755) A Dictionary of the English Language and J. A. H. Murray’s Oxford English Dictionary (1884–1928) embodied two principles: (1) the potential of dictionaries for “fixing” and standardizing the language (however unrealistic this might turn out to be); and (2) the identification of a “nucleus” or core of the language, defined according to “Anglicity.”

Arguably, the first dictionaries of world Englishes were glossaries produced in the United States at the beginning of the nineteenth century. These included Pickering (1816), Bartlett (1848), etc. Noah Webster, by contrast, was concerned to produce a national dictionary, for reasons partly if not wholly political, because “As an independent nation, our honor requires us to have a system of our own, in language as well as government.” Webster further predicted that: “These causes will produce, in a course of time, a language in North America, as different from the future language of England, as the modern Dutch, Danish and Swedish are from the German, or from one another” (1789, pp. 220–3).

6. Endword: From Theory to Practice

The review of the literature in the preceding section demonstrates just how far the debates and discourses on world English(es) and new Englishes have come since the identification of this topic in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As is indicated above, there are currently a number of overlapping and intersecting approaches to this field of inquiry.

What also emerges from this survey, however, is a changing disciplinary and discoursal map, marked by a series of paradigm shifts in the last 20 years. In this final section, we might now pause to consider the implications of such approaches for applied linguistics. The kinds of responses that are possible in this context will depend on a range of factors, including different understandings of the field of “applied linguistics.”

For some, applied linguistics has the status of an independent discipline associated with its own body of theory and methodologies, while, for others, it is seen as “mediating” between such parent disciplines as education, linguistics, psychology, sociology, etc. and various forms of problem-solving activities, especially those associated with language learning and language teaching.

In this latter context, for example, Widdowson has commented that applied linguistics is “an activity which seeks to identify, within the disciplines concerned with language and learning, those insights and procedures of enquiry which are relevant for the formulation of pedagogic principles and their effective actualization in practice” (1990, p. 6, cited in Cook & Seidlhofer, 1995, p. 8). For the purposes of this short conclusion, I will assume that the term is capable of two broad definitions: in the first sense, as a wide-ranging area of interdisciplinary theory and activity of relevance to such fields as linguistics, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics; and, in a second sense, as a rather narrower field of activity mainly concerned, following Widdowson, with pedagogic principles and practices.

 

QUESTION

  1. What is meant by international sociolinguistic balance proposed by Fishman?

Answer: “International sociolinguistic balance” at that time rested on three factors: (1) the spread of English; (2) the control of English; and (3) the fostering of vernacular languages

  1. What are the seven fallacies proposed by Prator?

Answer: He identifies seven fallacies associated with the British heresy: (1) that second language varieties of English can legitimately be equated with mother tongue varieties; (2) that second language varieties of English really exist as coherent, homogeneous linguistic systems, describable in the usual way as the speech of an identifiable social group; (3) that a few minor concessions in the type of English taught in schools would tend to or suffice to stabilize the language; (4) that one level of a language, its phonology, can be allowed to change without entailing corresponding changes at other levels; (5) that it would be a simple matter to establish a second language variety of English as an effective instructional model once it had been clearly identified and described; (6) that students would long be content to study English in a situation in which, as a matter of policy, they were denied access to a native speaker model; and that (7) granting a second language variety of English official status in a country’s schools would lead to its widespread adoption as a mother tongue.

 

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