Most people modify their ways of speaking, writing, texting, and e-mailing, and so on, according to the people with whom they are communicating. This fascinating book asks why we 'accommodate' to others in this way, and explores the various social consequences arising from it.
Review of The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes
EDITOR: Andy Kirkpatrick TITLE: The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes SERIES TITLE: Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis) YEAR: 2010
Dragana Surkalovic, Center for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Linguistics, University of Tromsø, Norway
'The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes', part of the Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics series, covers a wide variety of current issues in the study of world Englishes, such as the status and development of English as a worldwide lingua franca, as a medium of instruction in schools and as a leading language of academia, as well as ''the development of 'computer-mediated' Englishes, including 'cyberprose''' (i).
As Andy Kirkpatrick, the editor of the volume, states in the Introduction, there are now more speakers of English as a second language in the world than there are native speakers of the language. Thus, when we talk about varieties of English, we must go beyond the traditional focus on the dialectal variation of the British Isles, North America, Australia and New Zealand (Kachru's (1992) 'inner circle' varieties), and embrace the varieties present in African countries, Asia, the Caribbean, and elsewhere in the world where English-speaking colonizers ventured (Kachru's 'outer circle' varieties). Furthermore, due to the growing influence of English as a foreign language in countries not related to it by colonization (Kachru's 'expanding circle'), a new type of varieties of English is developing. For example, it is estimated that in China alone there are as many learners of English as there are native speakers of the language in the world. Besides geographical variation, English varieties develop as a result of its function as the language of business, academia, pop culture and electronic communication.
This 700-page handbook is a collection of 39 contributions from 47 specialists within the field, intended to serve as a comprehensive introduction to the study of World Englishes and an overview of the developments and debates in this ever-expanding field. It is aimed at advanced undergraduates and ''postgraduate students of applied linguistics as well as those in related degrees such as applied English language and TESOL/TEFL'' (i). However, as Kirkpatrick states, ''There are simply too many Englishes and varieties of these to be covered in a single volume. Instead, this handbook will provide an overview and description of a selected number of Englishes, regional, national, functional and international, along with a review of recent trends, debates and the implications of these new developments for the future of English'' (2).
The contributions to The Handbook are divided into 6 sections, covering a wide variety of issues in the field, from historical and current perspectives, and presenting new directions within the discipline.
Section I - Historical Perspectives and 'Traditional' Englishes
This section consists of eight chapters addressing issues concerning the 'inner circle' Englishes. In the first chapter, 'Standardized English: The History of the Earlier Circles', Daniel R. Davis shows how, from a historical perspective, English has ''always been heterogenous and has always involved extensive language contact'' (31). Even the standardized 'inner circle' varieties are hybrid varieties, influenced and created by contact with other languages. This makes them World Englishes by origin.
The second and third chapters describe the variation of Englishes in the British Isles. 'Grammatical Variation in the Contemporary Spoken English of England', by David Britain, starts with the statement that ''Standard English is a minority dialect in England'' (37) and shows how non-standard forms are much more widespread than standard British English, and are greatly influenced by a wide variety of ethnic communities. 'Phonological Innovation in Contemporary Spoken English', by Gerrard J. Docherty, presents phonological variation and the key innovative aspects present in vernacular British Englishes.
Chapters 4 to 8 focus on the non-British varieties of 'inner circle' Englishes, which are those of Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 'The Englishes of Ireland: Emergence and Transportation', by Raymond Hickey, provides us with an account of the historical development of current Irish English, as well as its expansion overseas and its influence on Englishes elsewhere in the world, e.g. Britain, North America, the Caribbean, and Australia.
William A. Kretzschmar Jr., in 'The Development of Standard American English', shows the emergence of Standard American English as well as some of its features, and the key role Webster's 'American Spelling Book' and prescriptivism had in the establishment of the idea of a single Standard English in America.
In 'The Englishes of Canada', Stephen Levey stresses the diversity of what is considered to be Canadian English and provides examples of variation in linguistic features and regional variation. He also explores the sociohistorical contexts of Canadian English's development and points out the need for investigating and embracing its diversity.
'English in Australia', by Kate Burridge, presents a number of distinctive features of Australian English and the influences on their development, which range from dialects of early settlers to indigenous languages and, more recently, immigrant communities.
Margaret Maclagan's 'The Englishes of New Zealand' shows the historical development of New Zealand English, privileged among the 'inner circle' Englishes because we have access to recorded evidence of its history from its start. She also addresses the Maori language, Maori English and Pasifika English, and their cultural and historical interaction with New Zealand English.
Section II - Regional Varieties and the 'New' Englishes
This section, like the previous one, focuses on geographical varieties. It covers a number of Englishes of the 'outer circle', such as postcolonial Englishes of Asia and Africa, as well as some varieties of the 'expanding circle', such as Englishes in China, Russia, Colombia, etc.
The first two chapters address the Indian subcontinent. In 'The Development of the English Language in India', Joybrato Mukherjee discusses some of the features of Indian English, showing how many of them originate not from L1 interference, but from 'nativised semantico-structural analogy', and argues that Indian English has characteristics of a semi-autonomous variety.
The authors of 'Sri Lankan Englishes', Dushyanthi Mendis and Harshana Rumbukwella, present the complexity of Sri Lankan English, brought about by the different L1, religious, generational and social backgrounds of its speakers. They also address the unusual status of English in Sri Lanka. Although it is not an official language, but rather a 'link' language used as a neutral language in society, it is still used in some official contexts, such as the Sri Lankan Supreme Court.
The following two chapters focus on Africa. 'East and West African Englishes: Differences and Commonalities', by Hans-Georg Wolf, compares the varieties of English in the two regions, pointing out the influence of colonial policies on their similarities and differences and stressing that the West African Englishes display more varieties than those of East Africa. In 'The Development of English in Botswana: Language Policy and Education', Birgit Smieja and Joyce T. Mathangwane present the role of English in this nation and are critical of the language policies which promote English over local languages.
Chapters 13, 14, 15 and 16 address the Englishes of East and South East Asia. 'English in Singapore and Malaysia: Differences and Similarities', by Low Ee Ling, contrasts the similarities in the historical development of the two Englishes with the differences in the roles English subsequently assumed in the two countries, which, the author predicts, will result in further distancing of the two.
In 'Periphery ELT: The Policy and Practice of English Teaching in the Philippines', Isabel Pefianco Martin discusses the influence of American English language and culture, which originates in the past colonial status of the Philippines but is still dominant in the country's educational system.
'East Asian Englishes: Japan and Korea', by Yuko Takeshita, is a comparison of the development, status and features of the two varieties, including recent proposals for making English an official language in both countries. The author also presents the dangers of striving towards a native-like variety at any cost instead of embracing the varieties that naturally developed in Japan and Korea.
In 'Chinese English: A Future Power?', Xu Zhichang outlines existing views on the definition of Chinese English, and then goes on to present a detailed linguistic description of the variety with numerous illustrations, and concludes by predicting that the current number of about 350 million Chinese learners of English will result in this variety becoming a major one among World Englishes.
In Chapter 17, 'Slavic Englishes: Education or Culture?', Zoya Proshina presents the current status and influence of English in education, popular culture and literature. She further discusses the linguistic features of Russian English, including what she dubs 'Ruslish', a less educated variety.
Hazel Simmons-McDonald, in 'West Indian Englishes: An Introduction to Literature Written in Selected Varieties', gives an overview of the development of Caribbean creoles and shows the great significance of West Indian poets and writers in the promotion of these creoles and creole-influenced vernaculars and their establishment as internationally accepted varieties of English.
Finally, 'English and English Teaching in Colombia: Tensions and Possibilities in the Expanding Circle', by Adriana González, introduces the status of English in Colombia and the linguistic characteristics of Islander, the English-based creole of the San Andres and Providencia Islands, and further discusses the growing influence and use of English, which is expanding beyond the domain of higher education. González shows how the use of the term 'bilingualism' in Colombia, as referring to only Spanish-English bilinguals, is leading to a dangerous disregard of the indigenous languages of this country.
Section III - Emerging Trends and Themes
The six chapters of this section cover various trends and themes that are emerging in the contemporary study of World Englishes. In the first chapter, 'Lingua Franca English: The European Context', Barbara Seidlhofer addresses the conflict between the official policy of multilingualism in Europe and the fact that, despite this, English has become the lingua franca of Europe. She argues that the threat that English poses for multilingualism would be reduced if this fact were officially recognized, thus making it, as a lingua franca, an addition to the multilingualism of speakers, and not, as a language of one nation, a competitor with other languages of Europe.
'Developmental Patterns of English: Similar or Different?', by Edgar W. Schneider, starts with a historical overview of the geographic spread of English and the resulting sociolinguistic situations, followed by a presentation of the linguistic features of new varieties. Schneider proposes that these are results of various specific linguistic processes, and discusses various developmental frameworks, including his own 'dynamic' model.
Chapters 22 and 23 are companion chapters to Chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 22, 'Variation Across Englishes: Phonology', by David Deterding, compares the phonologies of the Indian, Nigerian and Singaporean varieties of English, and compares these three to the other outer circle varieties, with the aim of assessing mutual intelligibility. He predicts that the pronunciation of outer circle varieties will become more acceptable, leading to a broadening of accepted standards, and that this pronunciation will significantly influence the future development of English.
In Chapter 23, 'Variation Across Englishes: Syntax', Bernd Kortmann gives an overview of grammatical variation in 46 varieties of English, including the most common features across the varieties, and discusses the probable reasons for the existing similarities and differences. He points out that, while in phonology and the lexicon, geographical factors are relevant, in morphosyntax, it is the type of variety that has greater influence.
Due to the fact that speakers of World Englishes are multilingual, code-mixing is an important aspect of the study of these varieties, and is addressed by James McLellan in Chapter 24, 'Mixed Codes or Varieties of English?'. He explores the world of Brunei online discussion forums and shows how speakers of English and Malay mix the languages in different ways depending on various discourse factors, suggesting a high level of linguistic sensitivity and sophistication in code-mixing among these multilinguals.
The final chapter in Section III, 'Semantics and Pragmatic Conceptualisations within an Emerging Variety: Persian English', by Farzad Sharifian, gives a semantic-pragmatic account of Persian English in relation to the expression of various Persian cultural values. It stresses the importance of incorporating the study of cultural values into the study of World Englishes in order to achieve better intercultural communication when using English as the language medium.
Section IV - Contemporary Contexts and Functions
This section looks at World Englishes from the perspective of the function English is used for, such as creative writing, online and business communication, etc. The first two chapters are written by authors who are creative writers themselves. Ha Jin is a Chinese novelist, and in Chapter 26, 'In Defence of Foreignness', he describes the challenges creative writers such as himself, Conrad, and Nabokov face when choosing to write in English, which is not their native language. He defends them from criticism of their 'solecisms', insisting on their freedom to choose the language in which they desire to send their message, and pointing out their valuable contribution to the English language as explorers of its frontiers.
In Chapter 27, 'Writing in English(es)', the Nigerian poet Tope Omoniyi presents the use of English by creative writers outside the inner circle. Using himself and other writers as examples, he illustrates the development of 'multivariety Englishes' as a medium of artistic expression that transcends language boundaries. This, as he points out, goes hand in hand with the fact that the world we live in is overcoming language and cultural boundaries and becoming a global community.
In 'Online Englishes', Mark Warschauer, Rebecca Black and Yen-Lin Chou introduce the growing presence of online communication in people's lives, and compare it to other forms of interaction. They point out that, despite the evident dominance of English as the language of choice in online communication, the internet is still largely multilingual, with a significant presence of mixed-language communication. They also illustrate different varieties of online English and types of online communication these varieties are used in (email, blog, wiki, etc.), which shows how some linguistic features are innovative while others can be connected to certain historical developments.
Chapter 29, 'The Englishes of Business', by Catherine Nickerson, reviews studies of the use of English in business-related communication in and across all three circles, showing how the use of English as a business lingua franca (BELF) goes well beyond the inner circle, connecting millions of international business people as the neutral common ground for communication. Additionally, Nickerson points out the disassociation of this variety of English from inner circle varieties, as the focus of its speakers is not on perfect reproduction of the inner circle standards but rather on successful communication and getting the job done.
Similar to the topic of the previous chapter, 'Englishes in Advertising', by Azirah Hashim, provides an overview of research on the topic, and presents the advertising business as a mixture of languages used to achieve different goals and effects, and to attract specific consumers. Hashim uses Malaysia to illustrate how and why Standard English, its local variety, and other local languages are used, and what effects this code-mixing has.
In Chapter 31, 'The Englishes of Popular Cultures', Andrew Moody stresses the importance of studying English in popular culture because of the transnationalism of popular culture and its ability to spread the use of English across borders and cultures. He draws a line between the English of popular culture, a variety of English in its own right, and English in popular culture. The latter is the more studied one, despite its disregard for the influence of popular culture on the language itself.
In the final chapter of this section, 'Thank You for Calling: Asian Englishes and 'Native-Like' Performance in Asian Call Centres', Kingsley Bolton presents his study of call recordings from a major call centre in the Philippines. He explores the views of employers and employees towards native-like performance, and ways in which performance is achieved and judged, while also addressing the interaction between international operations and world globalisation, and local lives and linguistic practices.
Section V - Debates and Pedagogical Implications
This section covers the effects and implications of such a large number of English varieties on the practice of English teaching and scholarship. Chapter 33, 'Which Norms in Everyday Practice: And Why?', by T. Ruanni F. Tupas, addresses classroom practice as the central aspect of the issue. He presents two studies, conducted in Singapore and the Philippines, which illustrate a conflict between the teacher's obligation to teach the standard and their openness towards the use of different varieties and norms in situations outside the classroom, when the purpose of interaction is not education but communication.
'Construing Meaning in World Englishes' addresses the same issue in the context of university education. Ahmar Mahboob and Eszter Szenes use a systemic functional linguistics tool to analyse three essays, one by an Australian student of Sri Lankan background, one by a Singaporean student of Indian background, and the final one by an Australian citizen of Indian background. The results show that, while using the same linguistic tools to create their work, all three have different approaches to expressing their different heritage and identity, which leads the authors to conclude that research on World Englishes needs to go beyond geography-based varieties, and focus more on the context of use.
In Chapter 35, 'Which Test of Which English and Why?', Brian Tomlinson presents an evaluation of several widely-used English language tests, showing how most tests in use nowadays judge the learner's proficiency in Standard British or American English. He suggests that learners should instead be tested in the varieties they use to communicate in their local environment, and offers eight testing criteria that would achieve greater fairness and reliability in judging the learner's proficiency in their variety of English.
Chapter 36, 'When Does an Unconventional Form Become an Innovation?', by David C.S. Li, discusses the distinction between learner errors and innovations. The author illustrates how certain illogicalities of the English grammar system lead to many learner errors. These non-standard features are, however, becoming more legitimate as the awareness of the many varieties of English grows and as these varieties become more acceptable as alternatives to the inner circle standards.
Chapter 37, 'Academic Englishes: A Standardised Knowledge?', by Anna Mauranen, Carmen Pérez-Llantada and John M. Swales, also addresses the issue of standards. They look at the use of English for academic purposes and point out the complexity of academic English and the existence of its varieties, e.g. British vs. American, and male vs. female. They present existing tendencies to streamline academic English towards the inner circle standards, which is evident in the language preferences of major publishing houses. These tendencies are compared with the alternative spread and acceptance of other varieties of English as the academic lingua franca.
The final chapter of this section, 'Cameroon: Which Language, When and Why?', by Augustin Simo Bobda, uses Cameroon to exemplify the issue of which language is and should be used in the educational system. Cameroon was a colony of England and France, and thus both English and French are used in schools, beginning from a young age. This illustrates how colonial languages are still dominant in Africa, shadowing the richness and variety of local languages. The author predicts that this situation is not likely to change in the near future.
Section VI - The Future
The final section consists of a single chapter, 'The Future of Englishes: One, Many or None?', by Alastair Pennycook. The author discusses the three possible outcomes of the current state of the English language: the ''continuation of English'', ''the plurality of Englishes'', and ''the demise of English''. He shows how the future depends on a number of political and economic factors, as well as on our theoretical views on language. In our study of the language, we need to take into consideration the cultural and language ideologies that come with each variety, and think of English as the ''translingua franca English'' in this increasingly global, multicultural and hybrid world.
Considering the spread and development the English language has been experiencing across the globe, the need for this volume is obvious. It is a fascinatingly varied collection, covering familiar issues of historical and geographical variation, standards and teaching, as well as new areas of study, such as cultural and functional variation, e.g. online English, non-native creative writing, and the English of call centres, to name but a few. It is well structured in thematic sections, providing a wider perspective and easing access to individual aspects of the field.
The book is indeed a useful reference tool, not only for advanced undergraduates and postgraduate students of applied linguistics and English language, but for any other researcher and practitioner in the field, including students new to the area. It opens up a wide variety of study fields that might spark students' interest and direct their future academic development. The chapters are clear and short, presenting historical overviews of the topics discussed, ongoing debates, and predictions for the future. They contain a large number of important and useful references with regard to the topics under discussion and offer suggestions for further reading. Furthermore, I would recommend it to all English teachers. As a wonderful window into the many historical, cultural and functional faces of English, this handbook will help improve their understanding of the phenomenon of World Englishes and English as the lingua franca, and help put their own teaching practices into a global communication context. For teachers of applied linguistics it is a valuable source of texts to be assigned as course readings and starting points of class discussions, as well as a way of familiarizing themselves with areas that are not their primary research interest.
However, as the editor warns in the Introduction, ''There are simply too many Englishes and varieties of these to be covered in a single volume''. Indeed, the title, ''Handbook of World Englishes'', is slightly misleading, as it provides an overview and description of only a selected number of Englishes, and focuses more on recent trends and debates in the study of the phenomenon. It is not the best choice for those teaching or taking a course on the varieties of English that covers various phonological and grammatical features, as there are very few chapters that address linguistic features (mostly just in Sections I and II, as well as Chapters 22 and 23). However, although the coverage of linguistic features of the varieties that are discussed is not as in depth as one might wish, most likely due to reasons of space, the list of suggested readings and references points us in the right direction, and thus fulfills the purpose of a handbook as a reference tool.
'The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes', although not as comprehensive as one might wish, is still impressive in managing to cover such a wide variety of issues in such a broad field. It not only provides us with a historical perspective of the issues, but also wonderfully captures the current state of affairs in the field and predictions for the development of English. In this way, while improving our understanding of the status of English in the present, it is a 'time capsule', and will be widely referenced in the future as a source of information and understanding of the status of English in the 'past'.
Kachru, B. B. (ed.). (1992). The Other Tongue: English Across Cultures. Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Dragana Surkalovic is a PhD student in Theoretical Linguistics at CASTL in
Tromsø, Norway. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA
in English Linguistics. She specializes in suprasegmental phonology, with
special interest in the modularity of language and the syntax-phonology
interface. In addition to linguistics, she finds great joy in teaching
English, and has taught various English language courses at various levels
over the years.