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10.a Crystal Eng as a global lang

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quick-quick (= very fast) Mesthrie (1993b)
tear-tear (= tear to shreds) Ahulu (1995b)
big big fish (= many fish) Mehrotra (1997)
good good morning (intimate tone) Mehrotra (1997)
Lexical morphology coloured television Awonusi (1990)
repairer (= repairman) Awonusi (1990)
second handed Awonusi (1990)
proudy Tripathi (1990)
poorness Mesthrie (1993b)
imprudency Fisher (2000)
delayance Gyasi (1991)
costive (= costly) Gyasi (1991)
matured (= mature) Gyasi (1991)
storeyed (= with several floors) Fisher (2000)
it. The examples are all taken from the individual studies. No
attempt is made to evaluate the standing of the author’s claim,
which in many cases is based on anecdotal instances observed in
local newspapers, advertisements, conversation and so on. Taken
together, it is the range of examples which is intriguing, leaving
little doubt that the domain of grammar has to be considered as
central, alongside vocabulary and phonology, in investigating the
linguistic distinctiveness of New Englishes.
The future of global English
Examples like those given in Table 4 raise some interesting
questions. It is not always clear whether a new feature arises
as a result of transference from a contrasting feature in a local
contact language or is a general property of English foreign-
language learning, though individual studies sometimes suggest
one or the other. The process of change is evidently rapid and
pervasive, and origins are usually obscure. We need more dia-
chronic typological studies.27 But a synchronic comparison of
a distinctive English construction with the corresponding con-
struction in the contact languages of a region is usually illumi-
nating, and well worth doing, as it is precisely this interaction
that is likely to be the most formative influence on the identity
of a New English. For example, Alsagoff, Bao and Wee anal-
yse a type of why + you construction in Colloquial Singapore
English (CSgE), illustrated byWhy you eat so much? – a construc-
tion which signals a demand for justification (i.e. ‘unless there is
a good reason, you should not eat so much’).28 There are par-
allels in BrE and AmE: Why eat so much? (which would usually
suggest ‘I don’t think you should’) vs. Why do you eat so much?
(which allows the reading ‘I genuinely want to know’). The au-
thors point out that the verb in such constructions is typically
in its base form (not -ing) and dynamic (not stative), and thus
shows similarities with the imperative, from which (they argue)
the why construction inherits its properties. They draw attention
to such constructions as You hold on, OK , which are somewhat
impolite in BrE and AmE, but not considered offensive in CSgE;
indeed, the presence of you is considered more polite than its
absence. Thus, they conclude, Why you eat so much? is more po-
lite than Why eat so much? They explain this reversal with refer-
ence to influence from Chinese, where the imperative allows the
use of second-person pronouns to reduce any face-threatening
While it is of course possible that other contact languages could
have imperative constructions of a similar kind to those occurring
in Chinese, and could thus influence a local variety of English in
27 Of the kind illustrated by Schneider (2000).
28 Alsagoff, Bao and Wee (1998).
the same way, the probability is that such interactions are going
to be specific to the contact situation in an individual country.
Especially in a multilingual country, where English is being influ-
enced by a ‘melting-pot’ of other languages (such as Malay, Tamil
and Chinese in Singapore), the likelihood of a particular constella-
tion of influences being replicated elsewhere is remote. Distinctive
grammatical features are also likely to be increasingly implicated
in the ‘mixed languages’ which arise from code-switching (see
further below). Moreover, as the CSgE example suggests, even
features of grammar which superficially resemble those in stan-
dard BrE or AmE might turn out to be distinctive, once their
pragmatic properties are taken into account. Modal verbs, for ex-
ample, are likely to be particularly susceptible to variation, though
the effects are not easy to identify. In short, there is every like-
lihood of ‘core’ features of English grammar becoming a major
feature of the description of New Englishes, as time goes by.
� Vocabulary
As we have seen (p. 146), it does not take long before new words
enter a language, once the language arrives in a fresh location.
Borrowings from indigenous languages are especially noticeable.
For example, the first permanent English settlement in North
America was in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607; and loan-words
from Indian languages were introduced into contemporary writ-
ing virtually immediately. Captain John Smith, writing in 1608,
describes a racoon; totem is found in 1609; caribou and opos-
sum are mentioned in 1610.29 However, the long-term role of
borrowings, in relation to the distinctive identity of a ‘New
English’, is unclear. In the case of American English, relatively few
of the Amerindian loan-words which are recorded in the seven-
teenth and eighteenth centuries became a permanent part of the
standard language. Mencken refers to a list of 132 Algonquian
loans in which only 36 are still in standard American English,
the others having become obsolete or surviving only in local di-
alects (e.g. squantersquash, cockarouse, cantico). Australia would
29 Mencken (1945: 169).
The future of global English
later also demonstrate a similar paucity of indigenous words. On
the other hand, the amount of borrowing from an indigenous
language is extremely sensitive to sociopolitical pressures, as is ev-
ident in contemporary New Zealand, where loans fromMaori are
The amount of borrowing is also influenced by the number
of cultures which co-exist, and the status which their languages
have achieved. In a highly multilingual country, such as South
Africa, Malaysia or Nigeria, where issues of identity are critical, we
might expect a much greater use of loan-words. There is already
evidence of this in the range of words collected in the Dictio-
nary of South African English, for example.31 In some sections of
this book, depending on the initial letter-preferences of the con-
tributing languages, there are long sequences of loan-words –
aandag, aandblom, aap, aar, aardpyp, aardvark, aardwolf ,
aas and aasvoe¨l (all from Afrikaans) are immediately followed
by abadala, abafazi, abakhaya, abakwetha, abantu, abaphansi,
abathagathi and abelungu (all from Nguni languages). Only on
the next page of the dictionary dowe encounter items fromBritish
English such as administrator and advocate. The influence of local
languages is also apparent in the form of loan-translations, such
as afterclap and after-ox (from Afrikaans agter + klap (‘flap’) and
agter + os, respectively), and in hybrid forms where a foreign root
is given an English affix, as in Afrikanerdom and Afrikanerism,
or where two languages are involved in a blend, as in Anglikaans.
There was already a salient loan-word presence in South African
English, even before the 1994 constitution recognized eleven lan-
guages as official (including English). We might therefore expect
the status of these languages to be reflected in due course by a fur-
ther significant growth in the number of loan-words into South
African English; but the linguistic outcome will depend on such
factors as the extent to which the newfound official status of these
languages is supported by economic and political realities, and the
extent to which their lexical character itself changes as a result of
30 For example, some 700 out of the 6,000 headwords in Orsman (1997)
are of Maori origin.
31 Branford and Branford (1978/91).
Anglicization. Some cultural