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Review of  English Around the World

Reviewer: Elena Lawrick
Book Title: English Around the World
Book Author: Edgar W. W. Schneider
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Historical Linguistics
Anthropological Linguistics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 22.2912

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AUTHOR: Edgar W. Schneider
TITLE: English Around the World: An Introduction
SUBTITLE: An Introduction
PUBLISHER: Cambridge University
YEAR: 2010

Elena Lawrick, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN USA


'English Around the World' is the third volume in 'Cambridge Introductions to
the English Language', a series of undergraduate textbooks for English language
studies. This textbook provides a comprehensive overview of the spread of
English in the English-speaking and post-colonial countries. The primary
audience is undergraduates and ''the interested lay reader''; however, the book
has a lot to offer to advanced linguists, serving as a concise overview of both
the historical circumstances of the spread and linguistic features of nativized
varieties of English.

The book includes nine chapters, two appendices, a glossary, and an index. It is
accompanied by a companion website providing audio recordings of authentic texts
that illustrate varieties of English discussed in the chapters. The content is
organized in a tripartite manner. In the first three chapters, the author lays
out a framework for studying the global spread of English, introducing the basic
notions and concepts (Chapter 1 & 2) and surveying historically the milestones
of the diffusion of English throughout the world (Chapter 3). The following
three chapters bring this framework to life with profiles of the presence of
English in specific regional contexts, including North America and the Caribbean
(Chapter 4), Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (Chapter 5), and Africa,
Asia, and the Pacific (Chapter 6). Each individual chapter opens with a summary
of socio-historical specifics of the spread in the region under scrutiny, then
describes linguistic features of regional Englishes, and concludes with case
studies of individual varieties functioning in each region. Finally, Chapters
7-9 theorize the global spread of English, engaging the reader in the discussion
of such issues as language development, ideology, norm setting, mixing,
hybridity, and pedagogical implications of the global spread of English.

Each chapter includes the following sections: preview, listings of sections,
chapter summary, exercises and activities, key terms, and further readings. In
addition, Chapters 3-6 contain maps, timelines of the spread of English in a
region under scrutiny, and texts showcasing regional varieties of English. The
author provides a detailed commentary on the texts, whose audio versions are
available on the companion website. Appendix 1 presents phonological symbols
used in the book, Appendix 2 includes questions that may guide a study of the
presence of English in a regional context, and the Glossary explains linguistic
terms used throughout the book. The book is concluded with References and Index
sections. I will now briefly summarize the contents of the chapters.

Chapter 1, the ''Introduction'', links the global role of English with its diverse
local realizations. The chapter opens with a brief discussion of the global role
of English, which the author uses to make the point that the real reason behind
the unprecedented global spread of English lies beyond British colonialism. He
argues that English has come to be the global language because it has been
appropriated and nativized by vernacular speakers of post-colonial countries as
a local resource, leading to the emergence of distinct nativized varieties of
English. This point is illustrated in Text 1, ''Knowledge'', which showcases
phonological and grammatical features of Malaysian English.

Chapter 2, ''Basic Notions'', introduces the apparatus (i.e. basic notions and
concepts) for and major approaches to studying the global spread of English.
Building on the concept of language variation, the author constructs a framework
for the examination of this phenomenon. He contends that ''A language is not a
monolithic entity; in reality, it comes in many shadings, in varieties and
dialects. And such varieties are all linguistic systems which in their
respective contexts are communicatively fully efficient, regular, and
''grammatical'''' (p. 18). The author defines the notions of sociolinguistic
parameters, variety, dialect, register, accent, and standard. Then he discusses
how language variation is realized in distinct features of a language variety on
the phonological, lexical, morphological, and syntactic levels. The next section
focuses on language change and the role that language contact plays in this
process (including the notions of borrowing, transfer, pidgins, and creoles).The
concluding section surveys three major approaches to studying English in the
world. These include: 1) the classification of world Englishes as English as a
native language/English as a second language/English as a foreign language; 2)
Kachru's representation of the global spread of English in the form of Three
Circles: the Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, and the Expanding Circle (Kachru,
1992); and 3) Schneider's own Dynamic Model. Of these frameworks, the Dynamic
Model of the evolution of postcolonial Englishes is presented in greater detail.
The model suggests that in postcolonial contexts, the emergence of new Englishes
undergoes five stages (foundation, exonormative stabilization, nativization,
endonormative stabilization, and differentiation) of a ''fundamentally uniform
evolutionary process caused by the social dynamics'' between colonizers and local
users of English.

Chapter 3, ''Historical Background'', takes the reader back to the onset of
European colonization. The spread of English as an artifact of colonization
seems to be the leitmotif reiterated in this and the following three chapters.
This chapter opens with a brief overview of European colonization history,
placing focus on the relationship between a type of colony (i.e. trade,
exploitation, settlement, and plantation), and the communicative pattern it
produced (i.e. pidgin, ancestral English, nativized variety, or creole,
respectively). Next, the colonial expansions of the British Empire and the
United States of America are briefly surveyed. Then, the author discusses the
current international status of English and makes a strong case that a growing
global presence of English is secured by its ''pluracentricity'', i.e. nativized
realizations of English in diverse local contexts such as Singapore, Nigeria,
and Sri Lanka.

Chapter 4, ''Language Crossing an Ocean: Old World and New World'', explores the
establishment of English on the British Isles and its further spread to North
America and the Caribbean. The British Isles section is exemplified with a case
study of Northern English, the American English section with a case study of
Southern US English, and the Caribbean section with a case study of Jamaican

Chapter 5, ''Settlers and Locals: Southern Hemisphere Englishes, Transported and
Newly Born'', traces the expansion of English to the Southern Hemisphere through
settlers' colonies. The extralinguistic circumstances leading to the emergence
of endonormative (in which the local norm is recognized, codified, and accepted
in the society) varieties in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa are
chronologically recreated and illustrated with the case studies of Australian
English and South African Black English.

Chapter 6, ''Missionaries, Merchants, and More: English is Useful, English is
Ours'', examines several Outer Circle Englishes (Kachru, 1992). It covers a
geographically vast region, including Sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific, and
South, Southeast, and East Asia. The chapter profiles the socio-political
contexts of English use and features of nativized Englishes in West and East
Africa (illustrated with a case study of Nigerian English), South and Southeast
Asia (a case study of Singaporean English), and the Pacific (a case study of Tok
Pisin in Papua New Guinea). The chapter concludes with a section on English in
East Asia (a case study of learning English in China).

Chapter 7, ''Language Development: A General Perspective'', takes the empirical
explorations of Chapters 4-6 back to a theoretical level by introducing 1) the
mechanism of producing new varieties and 2) the classification of common
features of nativized varieties. The former is premised on the conceptualization
of language as a process (as opposed to language as a product), i.e. ''as a huge
set of 'features' (sounds, words, sets, phrases, syntactic rules and patterns,
etc.) which are continuously activated and replicated, with some potential of
being modified in form or frequency in this process'' (Schneider, 2011, p. 190).
Accordingly, in the process of its global diffusion, the English language
produces new varieties reflecting characteristics of languages in contact with
English and innovative efforts (simplification, restructuring, mixing, etc.) of
local users of English. The author discusses factors playing into the production
of new postcolonial Englishes from both a language-internal (simplicity,
grammaticalization, exaptation, or functional relocation) and language-external
(demography, solidarity, prestige, and a founder effect) perspective.

Chapter 8, ''Issues and Attitudes'', focuses on the major current debates
regarding social and linguistic outcomes of the global spread of English. The
chapter provides a concise survey of the major arguments regarding: 1) users of
English (the spread through elitism vs. grassroots); 2) linguistic outcomes of
the spread (English as a 'killer language' vs. denial of access); 3) potential
existence of the common-core international English (international English vs.
English as a lingua franca (ELF) vs. intelligibility); 4) norms (exonormative
vs. endonormative; 5) ownership of English (native vs. first vs. dominant
language); and 6) language mixing and cultural hybridity. The chapter concludes
with pedagogical implications.

Chapter 9, the ''Conclusion'', concludes the survey with the point that in the
process of its spread, English has been both globalized and ''glocalized'' (i.e.
developed into local varieties which have acquired international status. The
concept of English as a glocal language was introduced by A. Pakir in 1999, as
cited in Yano, 2001), producing new dialects and varieties, which have the right
to exist. The author advocates multilingualism and the acceptance of diverse
transformations of English.


'English Around the World' is a masterfully executed survey of the spread of
English from the British Isles to post-colonial countries, in the context that
Kachru (1992) terms as the Inner and Outer Circles of Englishes. The description
of distinctive linguistic features of varieties of English--both 'old' and
nativized--is situated in a concise yet detailed examination of historical and
social contexts of the spread. Furthermore, this book provides the reader with a
concise and comprehensive overview of the major issues and approaches in the
research on World Englishes.

A competitive advantage of this book is that it is accessible to both novice and
advanced readers. In addition to being written in a clear and accessible style,
the book provides the readers with all necessary tools, including maps,
timelines, exercises, audio recordings, suggestions for further readings,
glossaries of linguistic terms and phonetic symbols, lists of key notions
discussed in chapters, and questions to guide further investigations of
varieties of English.

Thanks to these features, 'English Around the World' is a highly versatile
resource for teachers and students. It may be used as a major reading in a
course such as World Englishes. Alternatively, individual chapters may be easily
integrated in a variety of courses, from historical linguistics and creole
studies to language pedagogy. The textual and audio samples of varieties of
English provided with a detailed author's commentary may serve as a supplement
in numerous linguistic courses. The list of questions included in Appendix 2
provides an insightful guide to independent projects that explore local
varieties of English.

'English Around the World', however, does not avoid a couple of potential
shortcomings. Firstly, the discussion of the spread of English in the Expanding
Circle is limited to a brief section on learning English in China, provided with
the caveat that the author ''stretch[es] the topic to its boundaries'' (p.176).
Given that the Expanding Circle is currently identified with the most dynamic
processes of the global diffusion of English, many readers would have been
interested in sections discussing the presence of English in Europe, South
America, post-Soviet, and Asian countries (note that in Kachru's (1992) term,
the Expanding Circle of Englishes includes countries where until recently
English functioned as a language of international communication, as opposed to
intranational communication).

This limited representation seems to be premised on the author's conservative
view of the Expanding Circle Englishes that conditions an emergence of a
nativized variety of English by a preceding colonial period. From the author's
perspective, a variety of English emerged in a context with no colonial past is
not sufficiently stable and distinguishable and, therefore, needs to be treated
as ''a learners' interlanguage in a second language acquisition process'' (p.
177). For an interested reader, the alternative perspective is presented in
Berns (2005), Kachru (2005), Kachru, Kachru, and Nelson (2006), Kachru & Nelson
(2006), Kachru & Smith (2008), and Kirkpatrick (2007).

Secondly, the primary audience of this textbook, i.e., the undergraduate
students who are not familiar with the research on World Englishes, would have
benefited from a more elaborate overview of the debate regarding the Linguistic
Imperialism Theory (Phillipson, 1992), which is essential for theorizing the
spread of English in the post-colonial world.

To conclude, like any introductory volume exploring a complex phenomenon,
'English Around the World' has some limitations, which are simply impossible to
avoid in a textbook. Nonetheless, this book provides an excellent and much
needed resource for students, teachers, and even established linguists
interested in the global spread of English.


Berns, M. (2005). Expanding on the Expanding Circle: Where do WE go from here?
World Englishes, 24 (1), 85-93.

Berns, M. (2008). World Englishes, English as a lingua franca, and
intelligibility. World Englishes, 27 (3/4), 327-334.

Kachru, B.B. (Ed.) (1992).The Other Tongue: English across cultures. 2nd ed.
Urbana, Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Kachru, B. (2005). Asian Englishes: Beyond the canon. Hong Kong: Hong Kong
University Press.

Kachru, B., Kachru, Y., Nelson, C. (Eds.) (2006). The handbook of World
Englishes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Kachru, Y. & Nelson, C. (2006). World Englishes in Asian contexts. Hong Kong:
Hong Kong University Press.

Kachru, Y. & Smith, L.E. (2008). Cultures, contexts, and world Englishes. NY &
London: Routledge.

Kirkpatrick, A. (2007). World Englishes: Implications for international
communication and English language teaching. Cambridge University Press.

Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Yano, Y. (2001). World Englishes in 2000 and beyond. World Englishes 20 (2),

Elena Lawrick holds a PhD in teaching English as a second language from Purdue University, USA, where she teaches an academic writing course for international graduate students as a post-doctoral fellow. Her research interests include World Englishes, the global spread of English, English as an international language of research and academia, English in Russia, and Second Language Writing.

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