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A resource book for students World Englishes Jennifer Jenkins.

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1 A resource book for students World Englishes Jennifer Jenkins

2 Strand 4: Variation in English across the world New Englishes Four defining criteria by Platt, Weber and Ho (1984) 1. It has developed through the education system. 2. It has developed in an area where a native variety of English was not the language spoken by most of the population. 3. It is used for a range of functions among those who speak or write it in the region where it is used. 4. It has become ‘localised’ or ‘nativised’ by adopting some language features of its own (e.g., sounds, intonation patterns, sentence structures, words, expressions). A4

3 Innovation in English Five internal factors to decide the status of an innovation (Bamgbose 1998): 1 Demographic factor (how many speakers use it?) 2 Geographical factor (how widely dispersed is it?) 3 Authoritative factor (where is its use sanctioned?) 4 Codification (does it appear in reference books?) 5 Acceptability factor (what is the attitude towards it?) A4

4 Levels of variation Main levels of variation: pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary/idiom, discourse style Pronunciation - Consonant sounds, e.g., dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ - Vowel sounds: vary across the New Englishes in terms of both quality and quantity A4

5 Levels of variation Grammar - a tendency not to mark nouns for plural - a tendency to use a specific/non-specific system for nouns rather than a definite/indefinite system, or to use the two systems side by side - a tendency to change the form of quantifiers - a tendency not to make a distinction between the third person pronouns he and she - a tendency to change the word order within the noun phrase (cf. Platt, Weber and Ho 1984) A4

6 Levels of variation Grammar  limited marking of the third person singular present tense form  limited marking of verbs for the past tense  a tendency to use an aspect system (which shows whether an action is finished or still going on) rather than tense system (which shows the time an action takes place)  a tendency to extend the use of be + verb + ing constructions to stative verbs  the formation of different phrasal and prepositional verb constructions (cf. Platt, Weber and Ho 1984) A4

7 Levels of variation Vocabulary/idiom  Locally coined words/expressions Prefixation (e.g., enstool, destool) Suffixation (e.g., teacheress, spacy) Compounding (e.g., key-bunch, high hat)  Borrowings from indigenous languages  Idioms Direct translations from indigenous idioms (e.g., to shake legs) Variation on native speaker idioms (e.g., to eat your cake and have it) Combination of English and indigenous forms (e.g., to put sand in someone’s gari) A4

8 Levels of variation Discourse style - Formal character - Complex vocabulary and grammatical structure - Specific expressions of thanks, deferential vocabulary and the use of blessings - Greeting and leave-taking A4

9 The legitimate and illegitimate offspring of English The naming of the New Englishes  World Englishes scholar Mufwene (1997)  Criticism of western linguists’ terminology  Based on mistaken belief of language contact: mother language gives birth to daughter language without any language contact  Language contact also a feature of ‘legitimate’ Englishes B4

10 The legitimate and illegitimate offspring of English Innovation – Deviation – Mistake  Distinction by Kachru (1992)  Innovation: concerned with creativity, which is often not granted to Outer and Expanding Circle speakers  Deviation: involves a comparison with another variety  Mistake (‘error’): relates to acquisitional deficiency B4

11 Emerging ‘sub’-varieties: Singlish Singlish = Colloquial Singapore English (CSE) Differs from Standard Singapore English (SSE) Not clear whether CSE and SSE are continuum or two distinct varieties (Deterding 2007) Fear that use of Singlish among children might affect literacy Main difference from Standard English is syntactic, lexis is dominated by English (Gupta 1999) C4

12 Singlish Grammar – Verb features: e.g. past tense not marked, no present tense -s suffix, copula dropped to describe states – Noun features: e.g. non-count nouns treated as count, indefinite article dropped, relative clause with different word order and one – Sentence structure: e.g. subject dropping, conjunction dropping, use of pragmatic particles lah and ah C4

13 Singlish Pronunciation e.g. avoidance of th-sounds, less distinction between long and short vowels, rhythm very syllable-timed Lexis – Borrowing from other Singaporean languages (e.g. Hokkien, Malay) – Shifted meaning (e.g. stay for long-term residence) – Conversion: verbs to adjectives (e.g. blur ‘confused’), nouns to verbs – Idiomatic forms peculiar to Singapore (e.g. love letters ‘flaky, tube-shaped biscuits’) C4

14 The politics of Singlish Speak Good English Movement (SGEM) (2000) – Promotion of SSE – Use of Singlish discouraged – Concerns about international intelligibility  economic imperative – Sociolinguists (e.g. Schneider 2007) have different view: concerns about falling standards are common in postcolonial contexts – Rubdy (2001): Singlish is symbol of cultural identity – Wee (2002): SGEM is an attempt to eliminate Singlish  breach of linguistic human rights C4

15 Estuary English (EE) Roswarne 1996 Accent variety between Cockney and RP Pronunciation features – Word final ‘t’ replaced with glottal stop – L-vocalisation – Lengthening of final vowel sounds – Dropping of yod in words like ‘assume’ – Syllabic consonants avoided by insertion of schwa – th-fronting Might replace RP or be absorbed into RP (thus changing RP) C4

16 Estuary English (EE) – a variety? Challenges to Rosewarne’s account of EE: Fails to take into account intraspeaker variation, i.e. adjusting accent to context (Maidment 1994) EE is StE with non-RP, London-influenced accent (Wells 1998) EE as ‘inaccurate myth’ (Trudgill 2002): not a variety but a lower middle-class accent, unlikely to replace RP because not taught in schools Not a variety but a set of levelled accents or dialects (Kerswill 2007) A number of distinct accents, not a single and definable variety, is part of more general changes which are not exclusive to the British Isles (Przedlacka 2002) C4

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