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10.a Crystal Eng as a global lang

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twelve, can or not? [distinctive tag question in
English]
you were saying you wanted to go shopping, nak pergi tak? [tag question
in Malay ‘Want to go, not?’]
Increasing lexical hybridization
No chance to ronda otherwise. [Malay ‘loaf’]
then real susah! [Malay ‘difficult’]
You were saying, that day, you wanted to beli some barang-barang.
[Malay ‘buy . . . things’]
But if anything to do with their stuff – golf or snooker or whatever, then
dia pun boleh sabar one. [Malay ‘he too can be patient’]
Malay
Betul juga. [‘True also’]
Continua of this kind have long been recognized in creole lan-
guage studies. What is novel, as McArthur points out, is the way
phenomena of this kind have become so widespread, happening
simultaneously in communities all over the world. After reviewing
several speech situations, he concludes: ‘Worldwide communica-
tion centres on Standard English, which however radiates out
into many kinds of English and many other languages, producing
167
ENGLISH AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE
clarity here, confusion there, and novelties and nonsenses every-
where. The result can be – often is – chaotic, but despite the
blurred edges, this latter-day Babel manages to work.’45
� Other domains
Grammar and vocabulary are not the only domains within which
linguistic distinctiveness manifests itself among theNewEnglishes
of the world: pragmatic and discoursal domains also need to be
taken into account. However, studies in these areas are few, anec-
dotal and programmatic. The Singaporean case described above
is somewhat exceptional in its depth of detail. The sources listed
in Table 4 give only sporadic examples, such as the nomenclature
of titles, kinship terms and politeness strategies. In the Nigerian
sources, for example, occupation titles are reported to cover a
wider range of cases than in British English (e.g. Engineer X ) and
to allow different combinations (e.g. Dr Mrs X, Alhaja Engineer
Chief X ). In the Zambian and Ghanaian studies, terms such as
father, mother, brother, sister and so on are shown to have dif-
ferent ranges of application, reflecting the internal structure of
the family (e.g. the name father can be given to more than one
person). Also in Ghana, and doubtless often elsewhere, reference
is made to a distinctive strategy in which someone says sorry to
express sympathy when something unfortunate happens to some-
one else, even when the speaker is not at fault. These are isolated
observations. As yet there is nothing even approximating to a
systematic description of the pragmatics of world English.
There is more to be said with reference to phonology. Most
of the descriptive reports in Table 4 do give some account of the
vowel and consonant segments characteristic of a variety. How-
ever, few give details of the non-segmental characteristics of New
Englishes, especially of the general character of their intonation
and rhythm, and of the way in which these factors interact with
vowels and consonants.46 The general lack of attention to the
45 McArthur (1998: 22).
46 For non-segmental phonology, in its sense of the whole range of prosodic
and paralinguistic features of a language, seeCrystal (1969). Jowitt (2000)
168
The future of global English
domain is regrettable, as there is plainly a major factor in evi-
dence here which has a potentially significant structural impact,
especially in the way in which it affects the comprehension of
spoken English. One author comments:47 ‘Most Nigerian lan-
guages are “syllable-timed” languages . . .However close a Nige-
rian speaker approximates to consonant and vowel qualities, if
he uses “syllable-timing” when speaking English, he may well
be faced by total incomprehension on the part of any listener
who is a native speaker of English.’ The distinction between
syllable-timing (found, for example, in French, Greek, Italian,
Spanish, Hindi, Yoruba, Telugu, Indonesian and the majority of
the world’s languages) and stress-timing (found for example in
English, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, German,
Welsh) goes back to Kenneth Pike:48 the former term suggests
that all syllables occur at regular time intervals, whether they
are stressed or not; the latter that the stressed syllables fall at
regular intervals, whether they are separated by unstressed syl-
lables or not. The distinction is widely referred to in English
Language Teaching manuals, notwithstanding the criticism it has
received. It is now known that languages vary greatly in the
amount of stress-timing or syllable-timing they employ, and that
there is more to rhythmical prominence than timing: segmen-
tal sonority, syllabic weight and lexical stress are major factors
in affecting auditory impressions of rhythm.49 And even within
a language, both stress-timing and syllable-timing can be heard
in varying degrees. The more formal the speech, for example,
the more rhythmical it is likely to be. Peter Roach concludes
that ‘There is no language which is totally syllable-timed or to-
tally stress-timed – all languages display both sorts of timing . . .
[and] different types of timing will be exhibited by the same
speaker on different occasions and in different contexts.’50 And
Laver suggests replacing the terms by ‘syllable-based’ and ‘stress-
based’ respectively, a suggestion which will be followed here.51
on Nigerian English is an impressive example of intonational and com-
parative detail.
47 Dunstan (1969: 29–30). 48 Pike (1945: 35).
49 Laver (1994: 527). 50 Roach (1982: 78).
51 Laver (1994: 528–9).
169
ENGLISH AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE
Most people would accept Pike’s judgement that English – for
at least 500 years – has been essentially stress-based, with just oc-
casional use of syllable-based speech. But the contact with other
languages which is part of the context of New Englishes is funda-
mentally changing this situation. The vast majority of these En-
glishes are syllable-based, as the following observations suggest:52
For those Africans whose first language is syllable-timed (as many are),
the resultant pronunciation of a word such as society . . . is very different
from what is heard in England or America . . . The use of tone rather than
stress, and of syllable-timing rather than stress-timing, combine to make
some African English strikingly different from other varieties in pitch and
rhythm . . .One of the most prominent features of Singaporean English
is the use of syllable-timed rhythm . . . Rhythmically, Standard Filipino
English is syllable-timed . . . Rhythm [in Hawaiian English] varies from
the stress-timing usual in English to the syllable-timing characteristic of
much Hawaiian Creole.
Type B Indian speakers [i.e. those with a rhotic accent] sometimes use
patterns of accentuation that are different from the patterns in native
English. The rhythm is also different from the stress-timed rhythm of
native English.
SABE [South African Black English] maintains an unchanging rate of syl-
lable utterance (tempo) over given periods of time, unlike SAE [South
African English] . . . In this particular respect, therefore, SABE shows
‘syllable-timed’ characteristics.
These general impressions must be interpreted cautiously. As de-
tailed studies emerge, descriptive generalizations will need to be
refined. For example, the impression that structural words are
stressed in syllable-timed speech will need some qualification, as
some of these words tend to attract stress more than others. This is
reported for Singaporean English, for example, where the stress-
ing of demonstratives and modal verbs has been noted as a feature
of this variety.53 Another study reports the use of individual strate-
gies in coping with timing in second-language English.54 And I
52 The first set of quotations is fromWells (1982: 642, 644, 646, 647, 651);
the second from Bansal (1990: 227); the third from Lanham (1990: 250).