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10.a Crystal Eng as a global lang

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groups which
own them. If you wish to tell everyone which part of a country
you are from, you can wave a flag, wear a label on your coat, or
(the most convenient solution, because it is always with you, even
in the dark and around corners) speak with a distinctive accent and
dialect. Similarly, on the world stage, if you wish to tell everyone
The future of global English
which country you belong to, an immediate and direct way of
doing it is to speak in a distinctive way. These differences become
especially noticeable in informal settings; for example, they are
currently well represented in discussion groups on the Internet.
International varieties thus express national identities, and are
a way of reducing the conflict between intelligibility and identity.
Because a speaker from country A is using English, there is an
intelligibility bond with an English speaker of country B – and
this is reinforced by the existence of a common written language.
On the other hand, because speaker A is not using exactly the same
way of speaking as speaker B, both parties retain their identities.
It is another way of ‘having your cake and eating it’.
The drive for identity was particularly dominant in the second
half of the twentieth century, when the number of independent
nations dramatically grew, and the membership of the United
Nations more than tripled (p. 14). It is not difficult to see how so
many new Englishes evolved, as a consequence. When a country
becomes independent, there is a natural reaction to leave behind
the linguistic character imposed by its colonial past, and to look
for indigenous languages to provide a symbol of new nationhood.
But in most cases this process proved unworkable. In Nigeria, for
example, there were some 500 languages to choose from, each
with strong ethnic roots. In such situations, the only solution
was to keep using the former colonial language, which after many
decades had become embedded in the fabric of local institutions.
But the pressure for linguistic identity is remorseless, and it did
not take long before the official adoption of English led to its
adaptation. With new institutions came new ways of talking and
writing; indigenous words became privileged. A locally distinc-
tive mode of expression emerged, and in some cases began to be
recorded, in the form of regional dictionary projects.14
14 As early as 1967 Whitney Bolton and I were compiling a ‘Dictionary of
English-speaking peoples’ for Cassells – a project which began by making
contacts with lexicographers (or, at least, lexicographically minded lin-
guists) working in each of the newly independent nations (as well as the
long-established ones). We received initial headword-lists from several
contributors, some of which already contained several thousand items.
It was evident that, even within a few years of independence, people
were conscious of an emerging regional lexical identity. The scale of the
Most adaptation in a New English relates to vocabulary, in
the form of new words (borrowings – from several hundred lan-
guage sources, in such areas as Nigeria), word-formations, word-
meanings, collocations and idiomatic phrases. There are many
cultural domains likely to motivate new words, as speakers find
themselves adapting the language to meet fresh communicative
needs. A country’s biogeographical uniqueness will generate po-
tentially large numbers of words for animals, fish, birds, insects,
plants, trees, rocks, rivers and so on – as well as all the issues to do
with land management and interpretation, which is an especially
important feature of the lifestyle of many indigenous peoples.
There will be words for foodstuffs, drinks, medicines, drugs, and
the practices associatedwith eating, health-care, disease and death.
The country’s mythology and religion, and practices in astronomy
and astrology, will bring forth new names for personalities, beliefs
and rituals. The country’s oral and perhaps also written literature
will give rise to distinctive names in sagas, poems, oratory and
folktales. There will be a body of local laws and customs, with
their own terminology. The culture will have its technology with
its own terms – such as for vehicles, house-building, weapons,
clothing, ornaments and musical instruments. The whole world
of leisure and the arts will have a linguistic dimension – names
of dances, musical styles, games, sports – as will distinctiveness in
body appearance (such as hair styles, tattoos, decoration). Virtu-
ally any aspect of social structure can generate complex naming
systems – local government, family relationships, clubs and soci-
eties, and so on. Nobody has ever worked out just how much of a
culture is community-specific in this way; but it must be a very sig-
nificant amount. So, when a community adopts a new language,
and starts to use it in relation to all areas of life, there is inevitably
going to be a great deal of lexical creation.15
project soon became much greater than anyone had expected, and, as
costs mounted, publisher enthusiasm waned. The project was cancelled
after a year, leaving only the headword-lists (now long since superseded by
other publications from the regional editors, such as Avis, et al. (1967)),
a report to the publishers, and a paper to the Oxford Linguistic Circle as
its epitaph.
15 Some studies are beginning to provide semantically based classifications
of new lexicon, such as Dako (2001).
The future of global English
The linguistic character of New Englishes
Although it has been possible to suggest answers to the question
of why English has become a global language (chapters 3 and 4),
the recency of the phenomenon means that we are still some dis-
tance from understanding what happens to the language when it
is adopted in this way. Historical experience is no real guide to
the kinds of adaptation that are currently taking place. Several of
the ‘New Englishes’ of the past have been well studied – notably,
American and Australian English – but the way the language has
evolved in settings where most people are native speakers is likely
to be very different from the way it will evolve in settings where
most are non-native speakers. There are already signs of this hap-
pening, though it is difficult to make reliable generalizations given
the social, ethnic and linguistic complexity within the countries
where these developments are taking place, and the considerable
variations between settings.16 However, it is possible to identify
several types of change which are taking place, and to gain a sense
of their extent, from the case studies which have been carried
out. This chapter focuses on grammatical and lexical issues, but
does make some reference to broader patterns of interaction and
to the role of nonsegmental phonology in the communication of
structural meaning.
� Grammar
Any domain of linguistic structure and use could be the basis
of variety differentiation, but the focus in comparing the tradi-
tional standards of British and American English has been almost
entirely associated with vocabulary and phonology. There has
been little acknowledgement of grammatical variation in those
reference works which incorporate an international perspective:
one grammar, talking about the distinction between British and
American English, comments that ‘grammatical differences are
few . . . lexical examples are far more numerous’, and it makes only
16 As the illustrations in Burchfield (1994) demonstrate. See also Bauer’s
reservations about Maori English (1994: 415) and Kachru’s on South
Asian English (1994: 518).
sporadic reference to possibilities in other regions.17 The point
is apparently reinforced in another, which concludes that ‘gram-
matical differences across registers are more extensive than across