English Around the World
Resources for Studying World English: Books
Leech, Geoffrey N. and Jan Svartvik. English : One Tongue, Many Voices. New
York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Crystal, David. The Stories of English. Woodstock: Overlook, 2005.
Ch`ien, Evelyn Nien-Ming, Weird English Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2004.
PR888.L35 C47 2004
McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Guide to World English. Oxford and New York:
Oxford UP, 2002.
Hendrickson, Robert. World English: From Aloha to Zed. New York: John Wiley,
2001. [a vocabulary dictionary] PE 2751 .H46 2001
McArthur, Tom. The English Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.
Crystal, David. English as a Global Language. New York: Cambridge Univ.
Press, 1997. PE 2751 .C79 1997
Dovring, Karen. English as a Lingua Franca. Westport CN: Praeger, 1997.
PE2751 .D68 1997
Parakrama, Arjuna. De-Hegemonizing Language Standards: Learning From
(Post-) Colonial Englishes About "English". New York: St. Martin's, 1995. PE
2751 .P37 1995
Pennycook, Alistair. The Cultural Politics of English as an International
Language. London and New York: Longman, 1994.
Resources for Studying World English:
Worldwide Accents of English
Varieties of English
British Council (facts and figures)
Wikipedia entry on dialects of English around
the world
• English World-Wide (link to BC libraries’ ejournal page - search by title)
• World Englishes (ditto)
• Very fun quizzes on varieties of English
Will English go the way of
Small wonder that there should have been in recent years fresh
talk of the diaspora of English into several mutually
incomprehensible languages. The fate of Latin after the fall of
the Roman Empire presents us with such distinct languages
today as French, Spanish, Romanian, and Italian. With the
growth of national separatism in the English-speaking
countries, linguistically endorsed not least by the active
encouragement of the anti-standard ethos I have just
mentioned, many foresee a similar fissiparous future for
English. A year or so ago, much prominence was given to the
belief expressed by R.W. Burchfield that in a century from now
the languages of Britain and America would be as different as
French is from Italian.
Randolph Quirk, English in the World
(1984), p. 3
How many people speak English?
4 million
6 million
8.5 million
20-40 million
116-123 million
(first language) ~ 375 million
(second language) ~ 375 million
(foreign language) ~ 750 million
Total around 1.5 billion (of the 6 billion in the world,
about 1 in 4)
(source: British Council Website - now down!)
Venues for the spread of
Airports/air traffic control
International business
Academic conferences
More venues
International competitions
Pop music
More fun facts about
English worldwide
• English has official or special status in at least 75 countries with
a total population of over 2 billion
• English is the main language of books, newspapers, airports
and air-traffic control, international business and academic
conferences, science, technology, diplomacy, sport, international
competitions, pop music and advertising
• over 2/3 of the world's scientists read in English
• 3/4 of the world's snail mail is written in English
• 80% of the world's electronically stored information is in English
• 80% of web sites are in English (German: 4.5%; Japanese:
• of the estimated 200 million users of the Internet, about 35%
communicate in English
(source: englishenglish.com)
One clear advantage…
English does have one clear advantage, attitudinally and
linguistically: it has acquired a neutrality in a linguistic
contexts where native languages, dialects, and styles
sometimes have acquired undesirable connotations….It was
originally the foreign (alien) ruler's language, but that
drawback is often overshadowed by what it can do for its
users. True, English is associated with a small and elite group;
but it is in their role that the neutrality of a language becomes
Braj Kachru, The Alchemy of English (1986)
A couple of definitions
Structuralism: a modern intellectual movement, based in
linguistics - emphasizes the systematic interrelationships among
elements in any system - in language, built around phonemes (a
unit of meaningful sound - defined by differences from other
phonemes) - structuralism can extend to any system - cooking,
drama, human society - investigate the internal relations - meant
to incorporate social production of meaning (shared relations in
a system), but can avoid larger social questions - assumes
freedom from larger cultural and political implications
Positivism: a philosophy that recognizes only positive facts and
observable phenomena - doesn't get into causes or ultimate
Ngugi Wa’Thiongo on English in
Kenya in his youth
Nobody could go on to wear the undergraduate red
gown, no matter how brilliantly they had performed in
all the papers in all other subjects, unless they had a
credit (not even a simple pass!) in English. Thus the
most coveted place in the pyramid and in the system
was only available to holders of an English-language
credit card. English was the official vehicle and the
magic formula to colonial elitedom.
Ngugi wa Thiong'o, "The Language
of African Literature" (1985
Economic Aspects of English Language
Learning (from FAQs on the British Council
Website - now down)
What economic benefits does English bring to the UK?
• British English language products are worth over 800 million
pounds a year to the UK
• the total expenditure of the 700,000 visitors to the UK annually
to learn English is over 700 million pounds - possibly over one
billion pounds
• the English language makes it possible for British companies to
develop markets, sell into them and form commercial alliances;
it brings direct benefits through the supply of English teaching
goods and services.
What other benefits does English have for the UK?
• tourists are encouraged to visit the UK
• businesspeople are encouraged to invest and build partnerships
with the UK
• people are encouraged to watch British films, read books by
British authors, and listen to British radio and popular music.

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