Re: Is Australian English drifting ever more distant from its UK and USA cousins?
1. Is the process of language differentiation set to continue?
Like raymott, I find it hard to say.
Until quite recently, I thought that the internet would reinforce film and TV in ensuring that there would always be a fairly standard English throught the world, with some form of American English becoming the biggest influence. However, I am not so sure now. The internet appears to have freed many people from the influence of prescriptive authorities, and millions of people who never put pen to paper are now churning out their thoughts daily. What was clearly sub-standard only twenty years ago is commonplace. Indian English, largely unknown outside the sub-continent, is now regularly seen. Sino-English will become more and more influential.
I think that a form of English will probably remain the main language of international communication, but it will be an English that does not have its base in BrE, AmE or any other identifiable variety. If that happens, the present varieties may drift farther apart from each other, though I don't think they will ever become really separate languages - the international variety will keep them mutually intelligible.
2. Is the uniformity of the English language as dear to anyone's heart as it is - for pragmatic reasons - to its learners?
As a teacher, I wish that there were fewer important varieties of English. When I began my teaching career, it was relatively easy for me to teach standard British English, and to reject as incorrect anything that didn't follow the rules of that variety. To do that today would be very hard on the learners. To insist that one variety is 'correct English' and that all others are in some way imperfect is clearly unreasonable. However, I now have to check far more carefully before I say that something is unacceptable. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to know exactly what is acceptable in the major examinations, FCE/CAE/CPE, BEC, ELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC, etc.
As a linguist, I am fascinated by the changes and developments in the language.
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