Unit 2: Using English

2.0 Introduction

  • Figure 2.1: Imagine a satellite that can monitor global talk in native and non-native Englishes

    [Source: ESA]

Imagine that a satellite is launched in orbit around the Earth with an instrument that can monitor interactions happening in spoken English during a 24-hour sampling of global talk. Stretch your imagination to contemplate that the instrument has been calibrated to distinguish between the features of native vs non-native speech.

What percentage of interactions do you think it would detect between:

    • ● native speakers?
    • ● native speakers and non-native speakers?
    • ● non-native speakers?

The best estimates currently suggest that as little as a quarter of English spoken usage around the globe involves native speakers, and that in certain contexts of usage, such as tourism, interaction which is exclusively between native speakers could be as tiny as 4%.