Is English a Killer Language or an International Auxiliary? Its Use and Function in a Globalised World

In the Introduction to this article, I deal with the importance of speaking one’s own language as a way to assert one’s identity. Then I pass on to the evolution of the English language from its start as Old English, spoken by only a few thousand Angles and Saxons.

I remark how, at fi rst, it was contaminated by thousands of Latin, French and Scandinavian words, of which contemporary English still bears many clear traces, but nobody has ever thought that English was ever in danger of disappearing. By contrast, in the long run, it became the mother tongue of the speakers in comparatively newly founded countries, such as the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, and owing to the spread of the British Empire, it has dramatically increased its appeal becoming the most spoken and infl uential language in the world. Thus, according to some linguists, it has led several languages virtually to the verge of disappearance. Therefore, I argue whether English has really vampirised them, or has simply contributed to make people understand each other, sometimes even in the same country where lots of diff erent tongues are spoken (e.g. Nigeria).

It is self-evident that English has gradually been taking the role of a common unifying factor in our globalised world. In this view, I envisage a scenario where English may even become the offi cial l anguage o f the E U with the c ontributions & coming, though in varying doses, from all the speakers of the other EU languages.

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English in Tanzania: A linguistic cultural perspective

Talking about ‘English in Tanzania’ or what Schneider (2007) has in general categorized as postcolonial English for that matter instantaneously evokes notions pertaining to language contact as well as the fi eld of contact linguistics. It was the British colonization of East African territories in the fi rst half of the 20th century that brought English into the region and consequently set off the contact process with indigenous local languages that would subsequently shape and defi ne the dynamics of linguistic culture as still observed today. Of particular interest is the contact and subsequent coexistence between English and Swahili especially in Tanzania. There is no any country in sub-Saharan Africa other than Tanzania that provides a perfect illustration of the dynamics of language contact in the 20th century and beyond between a European language and an indigenous African language in the African setting – to the extent that a story of ‘English in Tanzania’ would blatantly appear incomplete without bringing in a story of ‘Swahili in Tanzania’ and vice versa. This is exactly what this paper has assigned itself to do – examining a linguistic culture that has evolved in a particular time and space with English and Swahili occupying the center. Nevertheless, the literature on the topic abounds; only that its linguistic cultural dimension has not been privileged enough. Linguistic culture encompasses dynamics related to language contact phenomena such as lexical and grammatical borrowings, code-mixing, bilingualism, language shift, development of pidgins and creoles, attitudes toward languages, linguistic stereotypes and prejudices, and the like. Contact linguistics as an analytical tool pertaining to the structural aspects of bilingual language production is not marginalized in linguistic cultural approach but rather it is highlighted in order to provide concrete evidence on the cultural dimension. In this regard, ‘English in Tanzania’ is explored by contextualizing it within the parameters of the dynamics of Tanzanian linguistic cultural landscape. Specifi cally the paper outlines the dynamics of Tanzanian linguistic culture evolving around the English language, of course, alongside Swahili in terms of distinct political periods between the British colonial era and today’s era of globalization; second, it concentrates on actual language use and related public discourse as observed in public space; third, it demonstrates communicative creativity arising from the coexistence between English and Swahili and, fi nally, it concludes with recapitulation regarding the signifi cance of linguistic cultural approach to sociolinguistics explorations.

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Bringing English into the 21st century: A view from India

English in India has had an extended and elite colonial history. It was the dominant language of governance in the 19th and 20th centuries till India became independent and a new set of language policies came into being. This paper traces the narrative of English on the Indian subcontinent from its genesis as a foreign and imperial tongue to its acceptance and ‘democratization’ as one amongst the many languages of India. It is emphasized that English in India has always existed in a vibrant multilingual environment and that the emergence of Indian English as a ‘world’ variety owes much to this fact. A detailed analysis of the lexicon, grammar and pragmatics of the English spoken today in urban India especially by India’s youth who comprise over 65% of India’s population is undertaken in the paper with a view to demonstrating that radical and striking shifts in attitudes toward English in India have occurred over the last few decades of economic liberalization and technological growth. Yet, the timeline created in this paper also shows that many of the paradoxes and dilemmas that attended English from its inception in India have not quite been banished. Rather, they have taken on new, acutely self-reflexive and challenging forms that will require a radical reassessment in the 21st century.

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English in Singapore

This article discusses the various ways in which it is possible to theorise about the varieties of English in the world, in particular Kachru’s (1982) concentric circle model and Schneider’s (2007) phases of development in post-colonial varieties of English and I try to fi t Singapore English into these models, although in both cases there are some difficulties. I then provide the historical background to how English was spread to South-East Asia and note that English is moving towards first-language status. The key phonological, grammatical, lexical and discourse are outlined. I end by discussing some of the key elements to remember when considering non-Anglo Englishes like Singapore English.

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Origins and development of New Zealand English

This paper provides an overview of the chief characteristics of a relatively new variety of English, New Zealand English. After a brief historical sketch of the development of English in New Zealand, the paper highlights some of the grammatical patterns of the variety, before looking in more detail at the lexical features and characteristic pronunciations that make it a distinct variety. One of the significant infl uences on the development of New Zealand English has been contact with the Maori language and with Maori cultural traditions. This is refl ected in the presence of a large number of Maori words in common use in New Zealand English, as well as in the development of Maori English as an ethnic variety in New Zealand. Finally, the paper considers other sources of variation within New Zealand English, including early signs of regional diff erentiation as well as age- and gender-linked variation that have emerged in the patterns of change in progress that typify this new variety.

 

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Australian English: Its Evolution and Current State

Abstract

This paper provides a critical overview of research on Australian English (‘AusE’), and of the vexing questions that the research has grappled with. These include: What is the historical explanation for the homogeneity of the Australian accent? Was it formed by the fi rst generation of native-born Australians in the ‘Sydney mixing bowl’, its spread subsequently facilitated by high population mobility? Or is the answer to be found in sociolinguistic reconstructions of the early colony suggesting that a uniform London English was transplanted to Australia in 1788 and that speakers of other dialects quickly adapted to it? How is Australia’s national identity embodied in its lexicon, and to what extent is it currently under the infl uence of external pressure from American English? What are the most distinctive structural features of AusE phonology, morphosyntax and discourse? To what extent do allegedly unique Australian features such as sentence-final but and yeah-no in discourse serve the social role of indexing ‘Australianness’? What is the nature and extent of variation – regional, social and ethnic – in contemporary AusE? Are such regional phonological differences as /æ/~/a/ variation increasing or diminishing? Does there exist a pan-ethnic variety of AusE that is particularly associated with younger Australians of second generation Middle Eastern and Mediterranean background? Has contemporary AusE consolidated its own norms as an independent national standard?

 

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Contemporary English in the USA

Indigenous and immigrant speakers from a variety of linguistic and sociocultural backgrounds have in diff erent ways contributed to the development of presentday American English, as have the geographical and social dimensions of thecountry. This paper provides a survey of contemporary usage of American English by describing and illustrating linguistic features documented for social and regional groups in the United States. The focus on variation in pronunciation, grammar, and meaning in American English highlights the diversity of dialects and styles in the U.S. as well as the centrality of sociocultural identities to language use. We group examples of variation according to the social and geographical factors that these features have been associated with in the literature: region, age, ethnicity, and gender. We note though that patterns of linguistic usage differ both within and across communities, with particular features used by diff erent social groups for shifting purposes. The examples here provide a snapshot of the kinds of variation observed in contemporary American English as we move into the 21st century.

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The English Language in Ireland:An Introduction

Abstract

Irish English, as the oldest overseas variety of English, displays a number features which are unique to Ireland or which show characteristic patterns in the use of variation within English more generally. Many of these features reflect the interacting infl uences of settlement from England and Scotland, bringing with it elements from British dialects as well as elements now considered obsolete in British English, and transfer (via intergenerational bilingualism and language shift) of elements from the Irish language. Some features of this mix have continued from early times to the present, others have died out with the increasing homogenisation of Irish English, and still new elements, from internal change and other linguistic infl uences, continue to develop the language.

The IJLTIC is an international, peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles in the fields of applied linguistics, translation and interpreting studies, discourse studies and intercultural communication studies. The journal aims at promoting the intercultural perspective on language communication, fostering mutual respect both by major languages and linguistic trends for the local but also respect and understanding of the local before the global in terms of coexistence. In other words, the IJLTIC will serve as a platform for exchanging and generating insights into local linguistic and communicational aspects that deserve global attention and into global perspectives and trends that have an impact locally.

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