LINGUIST List 6.482

Sat 01 Apr 1995

Disc: Varieties of English - classification problems

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  1. Anthea F Gupta, "New Englishes"

Message 1: "New Englishes"

Date: Wed, 29 Mar 1995 09:31:08 "New Englishes"
From: Anthea F Gupta <>
Subject: "New Englishes"

Further to Chew Kian-Shen's discussion of Singapore English as a "native
English". Rodrik Wade recommended the term, "New Englishes". This is
another term fraught with problems, not least historical (Jamaican
English and Indian English, usually classified as "New" are older than
Australian and New Zealand English, usually classified as "Old").

Two issues are involved:

(1) The classification of varieties, based on their history.
(2) The classification of individuals, based on their personal experience.

As far as (1) goes, there are varieties of English which can be described
as contact varieties, in the sense that substantial parts of their
structure (whatever "substantial" means) reflect influence from other
languages, which are the result of a break in normal transmission
(Weinreich, Thomason & Kaufman), perhaps in the current generation,
perhaps centuries ago. The Standard varieties of countries like
Singapore, India, Nigeria, Jamaica etc. are by this definition *not*
contact varieties, although they exist side by side with varieties which
certainly are. Similarly, there are parts of the UK and Ireland where
there has been a break in normal transmission, but the Englishes spoken
in most of these areas now shows little trace of this.


Anthea Fraser GUPTA

English Language & Literature
National University of Singapore
Kent Ridge e-mail:
Singapore 0511 telephone: (65) 772 3933
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