2.4.1 Englishes in Your Part of The World

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Activity

In which circle would you place the country where you were born? What about other countries where you may have lived, studied, worked, or visited?

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It comes as a surprise to many English teachers that among users of English, ENL users are in a minority (less than half a billion). There are more ESL users (more than half a billion), and over twice as many EFL users (over a billion, and expanding daily—hence Kachru’s name for this circle of nations). But numerical superiority doesn’t necessarily imply linguistic assertiveness: because of the monolithic beliefs we looked at earlier, according to which languages belong to nations, most users of English in Expanding Circle countries look to users from the UK, the USA and other Inner Circle nations for the ‘correct’ forms of the language. They are, in Kachru’s terms ‘norm-dependent’.

Many ESL users in the Outer Circle nations, on the other hand, have adapted English for their own local purposes in the years since independence from the Inner Circle countries that once oppressed them. In other words, they have begun to ‘indigenise’ it: they are ‘norm-developing’ in Kachru's terms. As Manmohan Singh said in his Oxford speech, English is now ‘just another Indian language’. In some cases, the indigenised variety is becoming codified. For example, A Dictionary of Nigerian English Usage (Igboanusi, 2002) allows ‘Nigerians and foreigners alike to recognise and learn the varieties of English peculiar to Nigerian usage and gain a more in-depth understanding of the state of Nigerian English’.

Discussion point 2.1

Wherever you are currently living, there are likely to be Outer and Expanding Circle Englishes being used somewhere nearby—perhaps all around you. A typical feature of these Englishes is their hybridity and the blurring of the borders between them and the languages used alongside them. This is clearly seen in what’s called ‘foreign accent’, and also in the ‘borrowing’ of words.

Find some samples of what might be Outer or Expanding Circle usage in your location, and make a list of some of the words which might not be considered to ‘belong’ to ‘Standard English’. See if you can find at least ten if you live in an Inner Circle country… and restrict yourself to twenty if you are in the Outer or Expanding Circles. (If you’re in an Expanding Circle country, feel free to look at learners: they are using English too!)

Share your words here to see if other course users can tell you how widespread they are.