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Exploring the possibilities of
standardization and
legalization of English and
the case of New Englishes
What is Standard English?
Standard English refers to whatever
form of the English language is
accepted as a national norm in any
encompasses grammar, vocabulary,
and spelling.
Which one do you prefer?
I did it.
 Come quick!
 The book that I bought
 Them books
 I didn’t break
 I’m first, ain’t I?
I done it.
Come quickly!
The book what I
Those books
I didn’t break nothing.
I’m first, aren’t I?
Which one do you prefer?
I took some money from
the ATM.
My Dad always votes
Surfing the Internet
Who will the blame fall
The IRS sent the refund
check to my wife and I.
‘Can I speak to Susan?’
‘This is her.’
This will wet your
I took some money from
the ATM machine.
My Dad always votes
Surfing the Web
On whom will the blame
The IRS sent the refund
check to my wife and me.
‘Can I speak to Susan?’
‘This is she.’
This will whet your
Video – English?
British and Irish
Standard English
BBC English
Popular terms for this accent, such
as ‘The Queen’s English’, ‘Oxford
English’ or ‘Received Pronunciation’
are all a little misleading.
 Instantly recognizable accent often
described as ‘typically British’.
 It is an accent, not a dialect, since
all RP speakers speak Standard
 Regionally non-specific but it does
reveal a great deal about their social
and/or educational background.
BBC English - Features
The vowels tend to be a bit more
conservative than other accents in
Southern England, which have
undergone significant vowel shifting
over the past century.
Video – Received Pronunciation
Cockney - Features
Raised vowel in words
 Non-rhoticity
 Trap-bath split
 London vowel shift
 Glottal Stopping
 L-vocalization
 Th-Fronting
Video – Cockney
Irish English
East Coast Irish English (Dublin)
South-Western Irish Accents
Northern Irish Accents
Australian, New Zealand and
South Pacific
Standard English
Australian Standard English
Cultivated Australian
Broad Australian
General Australian
Australian Standard English - lexis
Battler: a person who works hard
to make a decent living in difficult
 Bludger: person who lives off the
efforts of others, a cadger and an
idler, a person who expects others
to do all the work.
 Dinkum: work; a fair share of
work; reliable, genuine, honest,
New Zealand Standard English
Standard New Zealand is broadly the same
as Standard British, but some distinctions
exist, such as the plural forms "rooves" and
"wharves" rather than "roofs" and "wharfs."
 In spelling, New Zealanders, like
Australians, use -ise as in centralise, not ize. In British usage, -ise is common and ize widely used, while in American usage ize is the norm.
 The kiwi accent has been rated the most
attractive and prestigious form of English
outside the UK in a BBC survey.
New Englishes
Spoken in the former colonies of Britain
(India, Nigeria, Singapore, etc.) and the US
(the Philippines)
 Learnt as second languages or one
language within a wider multilingual
repertoire of acquisition
New Englishes
The four criterias as defined by Platt,
Weber and Ho:
1. Developed
2. 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
Internal factors
According to Bamgbose internal factors determine
the status of a neologism:
Demographic factor
Geographical factor
Authoritative factor
Acceptability factor
Levels of Variation
 Grammar
 Vocabulary
Video – New Englishes
Asian and African
Standard English
African English
It refers to the English spoken in subSaharan Africa. The three distinct strands of
English evolved in Africa are
1. West African English
2. East African English
3. South African English
South Asia
Geographically, the term South Asia is
used to refer collectively to India,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri
Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives.
 English is the official language. All
communications, street signs, many
shop signs, business contracts and
other activities use English.
Countries and
Sri Lanka, India
p, k, t
at word
New E
[India, Malaysia
Similar to
[+ Voiced]
Voiced] at stops
word final
New E
[l] vs [r]
[l] = [r]
Countries and
Hong Kong, Singapore,
East Africa
East Africa, Hong Kong
[i] vs [i:]
[i] = [i:]
Singapore, India, Africa
Grammar: Nouns
Platt et al
Lack of plural marking
Specific/non-specific system rather than
definite/indefinite system
Change of quantifier forms
Change of word order within noun phrase
Grammar: Verbs
Platt et al
Limited marking of the 3-person singular present tense
Use of an aspect system rather than a tense system
Extension of the use of be + verb + ing to stative verbs
Different phrasal and prepositional verb constructions
New coinages
◦ By adding a prefix or suffix to an existing
◦ By compounding
◦ From indigenous languages
 Code switching
Criticism for New Englishes
They are second languages which do not have ‘a status equal to
those varieties of English which are used as primary or first
languages’ (Kachru)
They display lower standards.
They are mastered only by a minority who ‘have a very imperfect
command of only a limited portion of the language’.
They are ‘reserved for use with specific individuals in a narrowly
restricted range of situations’.
They show ‘widely shared “aberrancies” ’
‘Each individual typically adds in his own speech a large and
idiosyncratic collection of features reflecting his particular native
language, educational background and personal temperament.’
Phonological changes which take place in them can change other
parts of the language
Canadian English
Result of waves of immigration and settlement
Influx of loyalists fleeing American Revolution
 Considered by many linguists to be a variant of North
American English
Waves of settlement from Britain and Ireland after the war of
 In the 1800s more than half a million English speakers
travelled to Canada
 Education became compulsory in England in 1880 so the
immigrants’ dialect was uninfluenced by Standard British
Children who grew up speaking English in Canada played a
significant role in its birth
The languages of Aboriginal peoples in Canada started to
influence European languages used in Canada even before
widespread settlement took place and the French of Lower
Canada provided vocabulary to the English of Upper Canada.
Major influences: British, American and French
American and British variations coexist in Canadian English
Our/or: Spellings with –our are preferred. Such as colour and
favourite (French influence)
Re/er: Spellings with –re are preferred: Such as centre and theatre
Doubling final consonants: Such as enroll, install, marvellous,
Long forms of last syllable: Such as catalogue, omelette
Historical trade relations influence spellings of certain words such as
American spelling of “tire” is used because Canadian Automobile
industry has been dominated by American firms. On the other hand,
British spelling of “cheque” is linked to the important ties with
British financial institutions.
Canadian Raising
Pre rhotic vowel substitution
Heavy usage of the diphthong which gives a prominent “aa” sound
such as Vietnam and Nevada
Letter “Z” is normally pronounced zed instead of American “zee”
Yod dropping
T-flapping and T-deletion
Dropping final consonants
The great multipurpose “EH” – tag question, backchannel utterance
for agreement, asking for repetition
Click – kilometer
Load words from native languages -Eskimos’ language and NA
Native words borrowed from French
Canadianism: words given a new meaning in the canadian context
Few grammatical differences
Tendency to drop the definite articles
Juxtaposing nouns removing possessive form – probably natural
evolutionary effect resulting from a desire to simplify language
British colonialism
 Travelling in search of land and discovery
 Religious links
 Forced immigration for African slave trade
American and British conflict – matter of identity
Early Modern English period – English borrowed heavily from
regional languages
Syntactic changes developed – “gotten”
Loan words or words influenced from a multitude of languages
including French, Yiddish, Dutch etc
Preposition frequency differences
Ize preferred in American spellings over ise
Shorter last suffix preferred such as catalog, program
Dropping of the “u” in words of British origin
er spellings preferred
Differences in frequency of usage of grammatical components
such as semi modals
Compound words
 Political
argument: social adhesive vs
suppression of cultural pluralism
 "We should not be so naive . . . as to begin thinking that
nonstandard English will ever shed its stigma. Many who argue
against teaching Standard conventions seem to believe it will. The
reality is that failure to teach the conventions of Standard and formal
Standard English in our classes is unlikely to have any effect on
society's attitudes toward speakers of nonstandard English, but it will
most certainly have an effect on our students' lives. Their horizons
will be limited, and many at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale
will remain ghettoized. On this basis alone, I would argue that we
must push students to reach their full potential, especially with regard
to language. Our society is growing ever more competitive, not less,
and Standard English, because it is inclusive rather than limiting, is a
basic requirement for social and economic opportunities."
(James D. Williams, The Teacher's Grammar Book, 2nd ed. Routledge,
 Economic
argument: costs of translation vs
threat to freedom and implementation costs
 Channeling resources towards one language threatens other
Education issues
 Teachers incompetent in standard language
 Countries with high proportion of immigrants
Yet most writers who have given serious thought to
language are neither kind of iptivist…The
language depends on a simple insight: Rules of
proper usage are tacit conventions. Conventions
are unstated agreements within a community to
abide by a single way of doing things—not
because there is any inherent advantage to the
choice, but because there is an advantage to
everyone making the same choice. Standardized
weights and measures, electrical voltages and
cables, computer file formats, the Gregorian
calendar, and paper currency are familiar
examples. (Steven Pinker)
"It is important to understand that identifying
a dialect as standard or nonstandard is a
sociological judgment, not a linguistic one."
(F. Parker and K. Riley, Linguistics for NonLinguists. Allyn and Bacon, 1994)