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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    attitudes toward English varieties

    Dear all,

    I was wondering what your attitudes toward different English varieties (the more traditional one such as British English as well as the more recently developing ones such as Chinese English) are. What are your associations with standards, norm-dependency, native speaker issues, and their status on an international level?

    Additionally, what do you think of the concept of English as a lingua franca? Would you teach it (if you are an English teacher) or would you still stick to a standard variety?

    I appreciate your comments!

  2. VIP Member
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    #2

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    English is playing an increasingly important role as lingua franca, and given increasing globalisation, is set to become the world's first truly global language. An inevitable part of this story will no doubt be a corresponding increase in variation, and with it new sets of standards.

    My prediction (I'm no expert) is that the first of these changes will be phonological, particularly the way sounds are pronounced, (some sounds may well disappear altogether) as well as the ways in which intonation is used.

    Vocabulary will no doubt continue to be highly dependent on regional and sociocultural determination, as it always has been, but there will I think continue to grow a core international lexicon used primarily in a written medium on the web.

    As for grammar, I doubt there will be much change for many decades, perhaps with a few minor exceptions, such as the disappearance of third person s, (which appears in Jennifer Jenkins' Lingua Franca Core.)

    The rise of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) is an issue that is becoming harder and harder to ignore in the world of ELT, and is something I believe has wide-ranging implications for teachers.

  3. probus's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    One thing that some users of English would like to see flourish is Chinglish. Chinglish is English with Chinese grammar, e.g.no verb tenses, etc. Since you asked about attitude, my attitude to Chinglish is total opposition. But of course individual speakers cannot sway the development and spread of language change. Despite the opposition of people like me, Chinglish may develop and spread.

  4. VIP Member
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    #4

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Since you asked about attitude, my attitude to Chinglish is total opposition.
    How do you mean? For what reasons?

    I don't think that Chinglish can really be considered a variety of English as China does not have a sufficiently large internal speech group. Hong Kong does, however, as does Singapore, whose variety is commonly called Singlish.

  5. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #5

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    Other than knowing what Chinglish speakers may mean when they say certain things, I think we're probably still many years off seeing it recognised universally as a variant of English the way that Singlish is. Forms will seep into international English to build a common core for global communication, but I think some academics may be over-egging the impact this will have. Adjusting my speech to deal with business contacts in China does not mean, for now, that I will be speaking differently down the pub.

  6. VIP Member
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    #6

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Adjusting my speech to deal with business contacts in China does not mean, for now, that I will be speaking differently down the pub.
    I think it's feasible that we'll see something vaguely similar to what happened with Latin in the middle ages. Vernacular varieties develop from an official standard and people end up using both vulgar and standard forms. People were chatting in Vulgar Latin in the marketplaces and using standard Latin in administration and in church, for example.

    Eventually of course, as variation between different forms increases, you end up with what can be considered different languages in their own right, as with what happened when Vulgar Latin developed into what we now know as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian.

  7. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #7

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    Possibly, but we have a common goal. That may mean accepting certain changes, but the drive is to global communication, which means that the business person from Argentina can speak to their counterpart in India. This means that a closer approximation will succeed. It may not be the version that many native variant speakers would prefer, but it is unlikely to be that far away. Any British speaker who thinks that colour is a superior spelling to color is delusional. Any academic who thinks that the fact that many Chinese speakers know a bit of English will end tenses, equally so. I would welcome the end of the third person singular -s, but does anyone seriously see it happening?

  8. teechar's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    I think the ostensibly Chinese (or of Chinese origin) "long time no see" beats "it's been a long time since I (last) saw you" any day of the week.

  9. Piscean's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    Latin changed in the thousand or so years from its earliest known version to that of the break-up of the Western Roman Empire, but it seems likely that, so long as Rome held sway over the empire, the standard 'Roman' version of the day was the officially accepted language/dialect of the whole Empire. The evolution into the modern Romance languages did not really begin until after the unifying power had gone.

    British economic and military power in the nineteenth century ensured the growth of English as one of the world's important languages. The dialects that arose in the colonies (except for the Indian sub-continent, where the British were always a tiny minority of the population, albeit a powerful one) were, and still are, in the written form at least, very similar indeed.

    The growth of American military and economic importance throughout the twentieth century, and the American predominance in the entertainment industry and in the growth of the internet have ensured the continuing supremacy of the English language. Let us remember that, despite the differences we sometimes talk about here, American and British English are, in their standard written forms (apart from a number of spelling differences that cause no problems) so similar that it is hard to justify calling then different varieties.

    Thanks largely to the industry of Indian entrepreneurs, Indian English appears to be becoming more used in some countries of the Middle East. However, educated Indians still appear to regard British English as the standard form.

    It may be that China one day clearly replaces the USA as the great economic military and economic power of the world. It may even be that the USA declines to the level of Britain in international importance. If that happens, it may be that Asian varieties of English diverge more from American/British English, though I think it would be just as likely for them to fall into disuse, as ability to communicate in English became less important in that part of the world.

    Whatever happens, I think that mainstream North American/Antipodean. British English will change, as it has changed throughout history, but from within, not particularly affected by other versions. And, unless some catastrophe causes a complete breakdown in radio, television, the internet, cinema, etc, I think these 'varieties' will become more similar to each other, probably in the direction of American English. I can't see the disappearance of tenses happening for centuries (though BrE may use the past simple in some situations it which the present perfect is still preferred).

  10. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: attitudes toward English varieties

    I often see on Facebook a post in a foreign language. In the middle of it, I will see an English word. Presumably the writer expects the intended reader to understand what is being said.
    Last edited by teechar; 06-Apr-2017 at 11:32.

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