World Englishes refers to the emergence of localised or indigenisedvarieties of English, especially varieties that have developed in nations colonised by Great Britain or influenced by the United States. World Englishes consist of varieties of English used in diverse sociolinguistic contexts globally, and how sociolinguistic histories, multicultural backgrounds and contexts of function influence the use of colonial English in different regions of the world.
The issue of World Englishes was first raised in 1978 to examine concepts of regional Englishes globally. Pragmatic factors such as appropriateness, comprehensibility and interpretability justified the use of English as an international and intra-national language. In 1988, at a Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, the International Committee of the Study of World Englishes (ICWE) was formed.[In 1992, the ICWE formally launched the International Association for World Englishes (IAWE) at a conference of "World Englishes Today", at the University of Illinois, USA.
Currently, there are approximately 75 territories where English is spoken either as a first language (L1) or as an unofficial or institutionalisedsecond language (L2) in fields such as government, law and education. It is difficult to establish the total number of Englishes in the world, as new varieties of English are constantly being developed and discovered.
The notions of World English and World Englishes are far from similar, although the terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably. World English refers to the English language as a lingua franca used in business, trade, diplomacy and other spheres of global activity, while World Englishes refers to the different varieties of English and English-based creoles developed in different regions of the world.World English versus World Englishes
History of English
English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought by Germanic invaders into Britain. Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. Eventually, one of these dialects, Late West Saxon, came to dominate.
The original Old English language was then influenced by two further waves of invasion: the first by speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic language family, who conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries; the second by the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke Old Norman and ultimately developed an English variety called Anglo-Norman. For two centuries after the Norman Conquest, French became the language of everyday life among the upper classes in England. Although the language of the masses remained English, the bilingual character of England in this period was thus formed.
During the Middle English period, France and England experienced a process of separation. This period of conflicting interests and feelings of resentment was later termed the Hundred Years’ War. At the beginning of the 14th century, English regained universal use and was the principal tongue of all England.
During the Renaissance, patriotic feelings were felt towards English, recognizing it as the national language. Also, the language was advocated for its suitability for learned and literary use. With the Great Vowel Shift, the language in this period matured to a standard and differed significantly from the Middle English period, becoming recognizably “modern”.
By the 18th century, three main forces were driving the direction of the English language: (1) to reduce the language to rule and effect a standard of correct usage; (2) to refine by removing supposed defects and introducing certain improvements; and (3) to fix it permanently in the desired form. Hence, it was evident that there was a desire for system and regularity, which contrasted with the individualism and spirit of independence characterized by the previous age.
By the 19th century, the expansion of the British Empire led to the spread of English in the world. Concurrently, the rising importance of some of England’s larger colonies and their eventual independence, along with the rapid development of the United States amplified the value of the English varieties spoken in these regions. Consequently, their populations developed the belief that their distinct variety of language should be granted equal standing with the standard of Great Britain.
Global spread of English
The First dispersal: English is transported to the ‘new world’
The first diaspora involved relatively large-scale migrations of around 25,000 mother-tongue English speakers from England, Scotland andIreland predominantly to North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Over time, their own English dialects developed into modern American, South African and Australasia Englishes. In contrast to the English of Great Britain, the varieties spoken in modern North America, South Africa and Australasia have been modified in response to the changed and changing sociolinguistic contexts of the migrants, for example being in contact with indigenous Indian, Khoisan, Aboriginal or Maori populations in the colonies.
The Second dispersal: English is transported to Asia and Africa
The second diaspora was the result of the colonisation of Asia and Africa, which led to the development of ‘New Englishes’, the second-language varieties of English. In colonial Africa, the history of English is distinct between West and East Africa. English in West Africa began due to the slave trade. English soon gained official status in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, and some of the pidginand creoles which developed from English contact, including Krio (Sierra Leone) and Cameroon Pidgin, have large numbers of speakers now.
As for East Africa, extensive British settlements were established in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where English became a crucial language of the government, education and the law. From the early 1960s, the six countries achieved independence in succession; but English remained the official language and had large numbers of second language speakers in Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi (along with Chewa).
English was formally introduced to the sub-continent of South Asia (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan) during the second half of the eighteenth century. In India, English was given status through the implementation of Macaulay ‘Minute’ of 1835, which proposed the introduction of an English educational system in India. Over time, the process of ‘Indianisation’ led to the development of a distinctive national character of English in India.
British influence in South-East Asia and the South Pacific began in the late eighteenth century, involving primarily the territories of Singapore,Malaysia and Hong Kong. Papua New Guinea, also a British protectorate, exemplified the English-based pidgin - Tok Pisin. Nowadays, English is also learnt in other countries in neighbouring areas, most notably in Taiwan, Japan and Korea, with the latter two having begun to consider the possibility of making English their official second language.
Classification of Englishes
The spread of English around the world is often discussed in terms of three distinct groups of users, where English is used respectively as:
- a native language (ENL); the primary language of the majority population of a country, such as in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
- a second language (ESL); an additional language for intranational as well as international communication in communities that aremultilingual, such as in India, Nigeria, and Singapore.
- a foreign language (EFL); used almost exclusively for international communication, such as in Japan and Germany.
Most of these Englishes developed as a result of colonial imposition of the language in various parts of the world.
Kachru's Three Circles of English
The most influential model of the spread of English is Braj Kachru's model of World Englishes. In this model the diffusion of English is captured in terms of three Concentric Circles of the language: The Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, and the Expanding Circle.
The Inner Circle refers to English as it originally took shape and was spread across the world in the first diaspora. In this transplantation of English, speakers from England carried the language to Australia, New Zealand and North America. The Inner Circle thus represents the traditional historical and sociolinguistic bases of English in regions where it is now used as a primary language: the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Malta, anglophone Canada and South Africa, and some of Caribbean territories. English is the native language or mother tongue of most people in these countries. The total number of English speakers in the inner circle is as high as 380 million, of whom some 120 million are outside the United States.
The Outer Circle of English was produced by the second diaspora of English, which spread the language through the colonization by Great Britain and the US in Asia and Africa. In these regions, English is not the native tongue, but serves as a useful lingua franca between ethnic and language groups. Higher education, the legislature and judiciary, national commerce and so on may all be carried out predominantly in English. This circle includes India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Tanzania, Kenya, non-Anglophone South Africa and others. The total number of English speakers in the outer circle is estimated to range from 150 million to 300 million.
Finally, the Expanding Circle encompasses countries where English plays no historical or governmental role, but where it is nevertheless widely used as a medium of international communication. This includes much of the rest of the world's population not categorised above:China, Russia, Japan, most of Europe, Korea, Egypt, Indonesia, etc. The total in this expanding circle is the most difficult to estimate, especially because English may be employed for specific, limited purposes, usually business English. The estimates of these users range from 100 million to one billion.
The inner circle (UK, US etc.) is 'norm-providing'; that means that English language norms is developed in these countries. The outer circle (mainly New Commonwealth countries) is 'norm-developing'. The expanding circle (which includes much of the rest of the world) is 'norm-dependent', because it relies on the standards set by native speakers in the inner circle.