LINGUIST List 7.694

Thu May 16 1996

Confs: English as an Asian Language

Editor for this issue: Anthony M. Aristar <>

We'd appreciate your limiting conference announcements to 150 lines, so that we can post more than 1 per issue. Please consider omitting information useful only to attendees, such as information on housing, transportation, or rooms and times of sessions. Please do not use abbreviations or acronyms for your conference unless you explain them in your text. Many people outside your area of specialization will not recognize them. Thank you for your cooperation.


  2. Dr Maria Lourdes (Tish) Bautista, Philippine English
  3. Dr Tuanchai Tan-ngarmtrong, Thai English


Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 16:11:37 +1000
From: Sue Butler <>

A call for papers and an invitation to participate in an
international conference on ENGLISH AS AN ASIAN LANGUAGE.

The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, publishers of the Macquarie Dictionary,
is planning to undertake a series of conferences throughout
South-East Asia. Two of these (one on Thai English and the
other on Philippine English) are listed as a separate items
in this issue of LINGUIST.


The conferences have the general title ENGLISH IS AN ASIAN LANGUAGE,
a statement which is then discussed in the context of each country.


It is our aim to:

* assess the role that English is already playing and may play
 in the future in the government, economics, trade and education
 in South-East Asia

* analyse what impact the new Englishes of the region might have in
 reflecting the culture of these language communities

* assess the requirements for an English-language dictionary for
 this region.



A national variety of English is a form or dialect of English which
has a national distribution. It is acknowledged to be the form of
English identified with the particular nation, having developed
features which distinguish it from other varieties of English as a
consequence of its separate history, geographical location and
cultural context. The criteria for this assessment are as follows:

* use as an intranational means of communication in such fields as
 politics and government, trade, education

* prestigious English-language publishing, newspapers and

* an identifiable pronunciation

* a history in the region which has resulted in a significant
 number of lexical items peculiar to the variety

* a notion of standardness which is determined within the language

The term `national variety' needs to be distinguished from such terms
as `international English' or `world English'. These mean different
things to different people. `International English' can be equated
with British English by those who assume that British English is
`correct' English, the only `real' English, and thus the form to be
spoken around the world. For others, `International English' is a
vaguely defined hybrid form which undoubtedly owes a great deal to
American English but which is a kind of supra-variety that all
English speakers can produce. For still others, `International
English' can only be the overlapping standard forms of each variety,
where each speaker retreats to the most neutral and unmarked form of
his or her variety in an attempt to reduce any possible
misunderstandings. There will remain some words which are peculiar to
one variety or another - it is not possible or desirable to weed
these out entirely - but lexical difference will be kept to a minimum.


English in the chosen countries is markedly divided between the
acrolect and the basilect, and great care must be taken not to
confuse the two. The acrolect is the high form, the prestigious
form of English, spoken or written, which is thought of as
appropriate for formal contexts. It is what is taken to be `proper
English' and is linked to the standard forms of the prestige
Englishes, British or American. The basilect is the low form of the
language, usually existing only in its spoken form and clearly
regarded as not `proper English'. Ironically it often has the strong-
est links to national identity. Thus in Singapore the distinction is
made between Singaporean English and Singlish (the basilectal
Singaporean English), the latter being increasingly loved by the
Singaporeans and paraded as a national flag, but quite definitely
regarded as not proper English. There is some comparison to be made
here between Singlish and what in Australian English is called
`Strine' or `Dinkum Aussie' or Australian Slang.

Just as any discussion of Australian English used to devolve onto a
discussion of Australian slang, so too any discussion of English in
Singapore tends towards a discussion of Singlish. It is probably
necessary to restrict this survey to `standard' or `acrolectal
English' in the region.

Some reference to the basilects will be necessary but it is
impossible to cover all forms of English occurring in these countries
in detail. The syntax of these forms is often so different from
standard English that it is a whole study in itself. In any case
no-one wants or expects communication with English speakers from
other countries to be conducted in basilectal forms, however socially
important they might be to the native speakers. It is the standard
form which is being taught in the schools and used in business


`Standard' needs to be carefully explained because it will all too
often be taken to mean an equation with the prestige forms of English
- whether that is in British English or American English. Rather,
standard English should be defined as that accepted form of English
which occurs in prestigious English-language newspapers, publishing
and broadcasting in the specified country. `Standardness' will need
to be explained in terms of phonology, lexical items, spelling, usage.

It is a common experience of surveys that people who are asked about
the language they use invariably say what they think they use, the
standard to which they think they adhere, rather than what they
actually use. Related to this is the capacity of government
departments to have an official and unofficial policy which
are not necessarily congruent. Even within one department this
dualism can be evident. However this is not a new problem and
there should be strategies developed to get around it. As far as
education practice is concerned there is some existing comment on
the dual standards which operate in the system, consciously or


Over the past 14 years, the Macquarie Dictionary has played an
important role in gaining recognition for Australian English as an
authentic variety of world English, and in having this variety seen as
a central component of our national identity.

In their different forms in the different countries of Asia, Asian
`Englishes' have absorbed and now reflect in significant ways the
various social influences of their surrounding cultures in the same
way that Australian English absorbs and reflects our own culture.

We believe, therefore, that within Asia there is an opportunity for
Macquarie to play a role in documenting the `Englishes' of Asia
as a local reference of English usage.


Topics to be covered in relation to the English of each country:

* History
* Pronunciation
* Lexical items
* Standardness, particularly in the areas of newspaper publishing,
 book publishing and education, with comments on the relative
 importance of standards derived from within the country and those
 derived externally
* Business English
* English as influencing and influenced by local culture
* The literature on the subject

A broad range of participants will be invited - educators, writers
and journalists, linguists, English language teachers, government
representatives, publishers, newspaper editors. Participants will be
encouraged to discuss each topic, as the exchange of views is of
great importance in establishing a generally accepted point of view.


The staff of the Macquarie Dictionary now have over 25 years of
lexicographical experience. Macquarie is actively involved in
discussions of language and usage matters at such forums as
Style Council, an annual conference in Australia for people
interested in all aspects of writing. This program of public dis-
cussion initiated by Macquarie is one of the marks of its developing
skill in the documentation of a variety of English.

Macquarie's interest in English in Asia has led it to establish the
first corpus of English in Asia, that is, a growing computer-store
collection of writings in Asian Englishes, which will provide basic
hard data for Macquarie's program of definition writing.

The Macquarie Corpus of English in Asia is a computer database of
currently about four million words of mainly fiction and non-fiction
in English in a number of Asian countries. It is constantly being
expanded, and is designed to be supplemented by commercial newspaper
databases (such as Reuters) and by the secondary source material
available. It has been put together for the sole purpose of providing
evidence on the standardness of new words occurring in English in
Asia. It does not claim to be of a size to give information about
every aspect of a New English but it is of sufficient size to give
information about key words of standard English in the region.
The existence of corpus material against which to test the claims of
the English speakers is of great importance in keeping the study
anchored on fact.


The keynote speaker for the conferences is Professor Braj B Kachru
speaking on the theme of English is an Asian language. Prof. Kachru
is one of the foremost scholars in the field of world Englishes; he
has pioneered, shaped, and defined this field of scholarly inquiry.
His research on world Englishes, the Kashmiri language and
literature, and theoretical and applied studies on language and
society has resulted in more than 20 authored and edited volumes and
more than 100 research papers, review articles, and reviews. He is
a founder and coeditor of World Englishes and series editor of
`English in the Global Context.' He has held editorial positions
in more than a dozen scholarly journals and is associate editor
of the `Oxford Companion to the English Language' and a contributor
to the `Cambridge History of the English Language'. His many graduate
students, now teaching in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United
States, have made recognised contributions to various areas of
sociolinguistic research.

Kachru is the recipient of the Joint First Prize in the Duke of
Edinburgh Book Competition for The Alchemy of English (1986) and has
held fellowships and awards from, among others, the British Council,
the Ford Foundation, the East-West Center, the Institute of
International Studies, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.
He has been a keynote or plenary speaker at international conferences
and symposia in Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan,
Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Kachru joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign in 1963 and has been a professor of linguistics
since 1970; currently he holds joint appointments in the College of
Education, the Program in Comparative Literature, and the Division
of English as a International Language. He was named Jubilee
Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1992), headed the
Department of Linguistics (1968-79), and was director of the
Division of English as an International Language (1958-91).
He is a past president of the American Association of Applied
Linguistics (1984) and was director of the Linguistic Institute of
the Linguistic Society of America (1978).


Associate Professor Dr Tuanchai Tan-ngarmtrong, Language Center,
National Institute of Development Administration, Bangkok,

Dr Tuanchai's present positions are: Chair, Curriculum Development
for the MA Studies Program in Language and Communication; for English
for Business and Technology, and for Communication Studies;
Curriculum Design: Japanese Language Courses for NIDA students.
Chair, Curriculum development: English for Doctoral students,
School of Applied Statistics; Program Design: English for Teachers
from the Office of the National Primary Education Commission
Curriculum Design and Material Preparation: Listening Skills
Development and Reading Skills Development for Business Adminis-
Chair, Curriculum Reform: English courses for NIDA students.
Chair, Conference Organizing Committee of the NIDA Language Center,
"English for Studies and Careers".
Lecturer in Research Methodology and English for Business and
Research, Publication on Instructional Materials.

Dr Maria Lourdes Bautista, De La Salle University, Manila,

Dr Bautista's present positions are: Vice-President for Academics
(until 15 May 1996); Full Professor, English Language Department;
Vice-President, Linguistic Society of the Philippines; Editor,
Philippine Journal of Linguistics.

Dr Bautista's major publications are: Readings in Philippine
sociolinguistics (ed); Teacher talk and student talk: studies in
classroom observation; Language surveys in the Philippines; A hand-
book of Tagalog verbs: inflections, modes and aspects (with Teresita
V Ramos); The Filipino bilingual's linguistic competence: a model
based on an analysis of Tagalog-English code-switching; Patterns of
speaking in Pilipino radio dramas: a socio-linguistic analysis.

Ms Susan Butler

Susan Butler is a member of the Editorial Committee of the Macquarie
Dictionary, the first comprehensive documentation of Australian

Since 1970 she has worked on the major dictionary, and the smaller
versions which have been produced from it. She has also worked on the
Macquarie Thesaurus, an entirely original thesaurus produced from the
Macquarie Dictionary.

In 1990 she worked on a review of the dictionary source material, the
results of which were published in a book entitled the Macquarie
Dictionary of New Words. This material was then incorporated into the
second edition of the Macquarie Dictionary published in November

Susan is now Executive Editor of The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd and as
such is involved in the policy-making which influences the range of
lexicographical projects currently undertaken by The Macquarie
Library Pty Ltd.

Her current interests are in developing alongside a corpus of
Australian English, a corpus of English in Asia. In 1991 she was
Visiting Fellow for four months at the National University of
Singapore. In 1992 she spoke at the 1st Asian Lexicography
Conference in the Philippines.

Postal address:
Macquarie Dictionary
Macquarie University, NSW 2109
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Message 2: Philippine English

Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 16:11:37 +1000
From: Dr Maria Lourdes (Tish) Bautista <>
Subject: Philippine English

Manila, Friday 2 August and Saturday 3 August 1996

Host institution: De La Salle University

Conference organiser: Dr Maria Lourdes (Tish) Bautista,
Postal address:
De La Salle University
PO Box 3819
Manila, Philippines
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Message 3: Thai English

Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 16:11:37 +1000
From: Dr Tuanchai Tan-ngarmtrong <>
Subject: Thai English

Bangkok, Thursday 8 August and Friday 9 August 1996

Host institution: Language Center, National Institute of Development
Administration (NIDA)

Conference organiser: Associate Professor Dr Tuanchai Tan-ngarmtrong
Postal address:
Language Center
Bangkok, 10240 Thailand
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