LINGUIST List 22.2735

Sat Jul 02 2011

Review: Applied Linguistics: Kirkpatrick (2010)

Editor for this issue: Rajiv Rao <>

        1.     Dragana Surkalovic , The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes

Message 1: The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes
Date: 01-Jul-2011
From: Dragana Surkalovic <>
Subject: The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes
E-mail this message to a friend

Discuss this message

Announced at
EDITOR: Andy KirkpatrickTITLE: The Routledge Handbook of World EnglishesSERIES TITLE: Routledge Handbooks in Applied LinguisticsPUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)YEAR: 2010

Dragana Surkalovic, Center for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Linguistics,University of Tromsø, Norway


'The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes', part of the Routledge Handbooks inApplied Linguistics series, covers a wide variety of current issues in the studyof world Englishes, such as the status and development of English as a worldwidelingua franca, as a medium of instruction in schools and as a leading languageof academia, as well as ''the development of 'computer-mediated' Englishes,including 'cyberprose''' (i).

As Andy Kirkpatrick, the editor of the volume, states in the Introduction, thereare now more speakers of English as a second language in the world than thereare native speakers of the language. Thus, when we talk about varieties ofEnglish, we must go beyond the traditional focus on the dialectal variation ofthe British Isles, North America, Australia and New Zealand (Kachru's (1992)'inner circle' varieties), and embrace the varieties present in Africancountries, Asia, the Caribbean, and elsewhere in the world whereEnglish-speaking colonizers ventured (Kachru's 'outer circle' varieties).Furthermore, due to the growing influence of English as a foreign language incountries not related to it by colonization (Kachru's 'expanding circle'), a newtype of varieties of English is developing. For example, it is estimated that inChina alone there are as many learners of English as there are native speakersof the language in the world. Besides geographical variation, English varietiesdevelop as a result of its function as the language of business, academia, popculture and electronic communication.

This 700-page handbook is a collection of 39 contributions from 47 specialistswithin the field, intended to serve as a comprehensive introduction to the studyof World Englishes and an overview of the developments and debates in thisever-expanding field. It is aimed at advanced undergraduates and ''postgraduatestudents of applied linguistics as well as those in related degrees such asapplied English language and TESOL/TEFL'' (i). However, as Kirkpatrick states,''There are simply too many Englishes and varieties of these to be covered in asingle volume. Instead, this handbook will provide an overview and descriptionof a selected number of Englishes, regional, national, functional andinternational, along with a review of recent trends, debates and theimplications of these new developments for the future of English'' (2).

The contributions to The Handbook are divided into 6 sections, covering a widevariety of issues in the field, from historical and current perspectives, andpresenting new directions within the discipline.

Section I - Historical Perspectives and 'Traditional' Englishes

This section consists of eight chapters addressing issues concerning the 'innercircle' Englishes. In the first chapter, 'Standardized English: The History ofthe Earlier Circles', Daniel R. Davis shows how, from a historical perspective,English has ''always been heterogenous and has always involved extensive languagecontact'' (31). Even the standardized 'inner circle' varieties are hybridvarieties, influenced and created by contact with other languages. This makesthem World Englishes by origin.

The second and third chapters describe the variation of Englishes in the BritishIsles. 'Grammatical Variation in the Contemporary Spoken English of England', byDavid Britain, starts with the statement that ''Standard English is a minoritydialect in England'' (37) and shows how non-standard forms are much morewidespread than standard British English, and are greatly influenced by a widevariety of ethnic communities. 'Phonological Innovation in Contemporary SpokenEnglish', by Gerrard J. Docherty, presents phonological variation and the keyinnovative aspects present in vernacular British Englishes.

Chapters 4 to 8 focus on the non-British varieties of 'inner circle' Englishes,which are those of Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and NewZealand. 'The Englishes of Ireland: Emergence and Transportation', by RaymondHickey, provides us with an account of the historical development of currentIrish English, as well as its expansion overseas and its influence on Englisheselsewhere in the world, e.g. Britain, North America, the Caribbean, and Australia.

William A. Kretzschmar Jr., in 'The Development of Standard American English',shows the emergence of Standard American English as well as some of itsfeatures, and the key role Webster's 'American Spelling Book' and prescriptivismhad in the establishment of the idea of a single Standard English in America.

In 'The Englishes of Canada', Stephen Levey stresses the diversity of what isconsidered to be Canadian English and provides examples of variation inlinguistic features and regional variation. He also explores the sociohistoricalcontexts of Canadian English's development and points out the need forinvestigating and embracing its diversity.

'English in Australia', by Kate Burridge, presents a number of distinctivefeatures of Australian English and the influences on their development, whichrange from dialects of early settlers to indigenous languages and, morerecently, immigrant communities.

Margaret Maclagan's 'The Englishes of New Zealand' shows the historicaldevelopment of New Zealand English, privileged among the 'inner circle'Englishes because we have access to recorded evidence of its history from itsstart. She also addresses the Maori language, Maori English and PasifikaEnglish, and their cultural and historical interaction with New Zealand English.

Section II - Regional Varieties and the 'New' Englishes

This section, like the previous one, focuses on geographical varieties. Itcovers a number of Englishes of the 'outer circle', such as postcolonialEnglishes of Asia and Africa, as well as some varieties of the 'expandingcircle', such as Englishes in China, Russia, Colombia, etc.

The first two chapters address the Indian subcontinent. In 'The Development ofthe English Language in India', Joybrato Mukherjee discusses some of thefeatures of Indian English, showing how many of them originate not from L1interference, but from 'nativised semantico-structural analogy', and argues thatIndian English has characteristics of a semi-autonomous variety.

The authors of 'Sri Lankan Englishes', Dushyanthi Mendis and HarshanaRumbukwella, present the complexity of Sri Lankan English, brought about by thedifferent L1, religious, generational and social backgrounds of its speakers.They also address the unusual status of English in Sri Lanka. Although it is notan official language, but rather a 'link' language used as a neutral language insociety, it is still used in some official contexts, such as the Sri LankanSupreme Court.

The following two chapters focus on Africa. 'East and West African Englishes:Differences and Commonalities', by Hans-Georg Wolf, compares the varieties ofEnglish in the two regions, pointing out the influence of colonial policies ontheir similarities and differences and stressing that the West African Englishesdisplay more varieties than those of East Africa. In 'The Development of Englishin Botswana: Language Policy and Education', Birgit Smieja and Joyce T.Mathangwane present the role of English in this nation and are critical of thelanguage policies which promote English over local languages.

Chapters 13, 14, 15 and 16 address the Englishes of East and South East Asia.'English in Singapore and Malaysia: Differences and Similarities', by Low EeLing, contrasts the similarities in the historical development of the twoEnglishes with the differences in the roles English subsequently assumed in thetwo countries, which, the author predicts, will result in further distancing ofthe two.

In 'Periphery ELT: The Policy and Practice of English Teaching in thePhilippines', Isabel Pefianco Martin discusses the influence of American Englishlanguage and culture, which originates in the past colonial status of thePhilippines but is still dominant in the country's educational system.

'East Asian Englishes: Japan and Korea', by Yuko Takeshita, is a comparison ofthe development, status and features of the two varieties, including recentproposals for making English an official language in both countries. The authoralso presents the dangers of striving towards a native-like variety at any costinstead of embracing the varieties that naturally developed in Japan and Korea.

In 'Chinese English: A Future Power?', Xu Zhichang outlines existing views onthe definition of Chinese English, and then goes on to present a detailedlinguistic description of the variety with numerous illustrations, and concludesby predicting that the current number of about 350 million Chinese learners ofEnglish will result in this variety becoming a major one among World Englishes.

In Chapter 17, 'Slavic Englishes: Education or Culture?', Zoya Proshina presentsthe current status and influence of English in education, popular culture andliterature. She further discusses the linguistic features of Russian English,including what she dubs 'Ruslish', a less educated variety.

Hazel Simmons-McDonald, in 'West Indian Englishes: An Introduction to LiteratureWritten in Selected Varieties', gives an overview of the development ofCaribbean creoles and shows the great significance of West Indian poets andwriters in the promotion of these creoles and creole-influenced vernaculars andtheir establishment as internationally accepted varieties of English.

Finally, 'English and English Teaching in Colombia: Tensions and Possibilitiesin the Expanding Circle', by Adriana González, introduces the status of Englishin Colombia and the linguistic characteristics of Islander, the English-basedcreole of the San Andres and Providencia Islands, and further discusses thegrowing influence and use of English, which is expanding beyond the domain ofhigher education. González shows how the use of the term 'bilingualism' inColombia, as referring to only Spanish-English bilinguals, is leading to adangerous disregard of the indigenous languages of this country.

Section III - Emerging Trends and Themes

The six chapters of this section cover various trends and themes that areemerging in the contemporary study of World Englishes. In the first chapter,'Lingua Franca English: The European Context', Barbara Seidlhofer addresses theconflict between the official policy of multilingualism in Europe and the factthat, despite this, English has become the lingua franca of Europe. She arguesthat the threat that English poses for multilingualism would be reduced if thisfact were officially recognized, thus making it, as a lingua franca, an additionto the multilingualism of speakers, and not, as a language of one nation, acompetitor with other languages of Europe.

'Developmental Patterns of English: Similar or Different?', by Edgar W.Schneider, starts with a historical overview of the geographic spread of Englishand the resulting sociolinguistic situations, followed by a presentation of thelinguistic features of new varieties. Schneider proposes that these are resultsof various specific linguistic processes, and discusses various developmentalframeworks, including his own 'dynamic' model.

Chapters 22 and 23 are companion chapters to Chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 22,'Variation Across Englishes: Phonology', by David Deterding, compares thephonologies of the Indian, Nigerian and Singaporean varieties of English, andcompares these three to the other outer circle varieties, with the aim ofassessing mutual intelligibility. He predicts that the pronunciation of outercircle varieties will become more acceptable, leading to a broadening ofaccepted standards, and that this pronunciation will significantly influence thefuture development of English.

In Chapter 23, 'Variation Across Englishes: Syntax', Bernd Kortmann gives anoverview of grammatical variation in 46 varieties of English, including the mostcommon features across the varieties, and discusses the probable reasons for theexisting similarities and differences. He points out that, while in phonologyand the lexicon, geographical factors are relevant, in morphosyntax, it is thetype of variety that has greater influence.

Due to the fact that speakers of World Englishes are multilingual, code-mixingis an important aspect of the study of these varieties, and is addressed byJames McLellan in Chapter 24, 'Mixed Codes or Varieties of English?'. Heexplores the world of Brunei online discussion forums and shows how speakers ofEnglish and Malay mix the languages in different ways depending on variousdiscourse factors, suggesting a high level of linguistic sensitivity andsophistication in code-mixing among these multilinguals.

The final chapter in Section III, 'Semantics and Pragmatic Conceptualisationswithin an Emerging Variety: Persian English', by Farzad Sharifian, gives asemantic-pragmatic account of Persian English in relation to the expression ofvarious Persian cultural values. It stresses the importance of incorporating thestudy of cultural values into the study of World Englishes in order to achievebetter intercultural communication when using English as the language medium.

Section IV - Contemporary Contexts and Functions

This section looks at World Englishes from the perspective of the functionEnglish is used for, such as creative writing, online and businesscommunication, etc. The first two chapters are written by authors who arecreative writers themselves. Ha Jin is a Chinese novelist, and in Chapter 26,'In Defence of Foreignness', he describes the challenges creative writers suchas himself, Conrad, and Nabokov face when choosing to write in English, which isnot their native language. He defends them from criticism of their 'solecisms',insisting on their freedom to choose the language in which they desire to sendtheir message, and pointing out their valuable contribution to the Englishlanguage as explorers of its frontiers.

In Chapter 27, 'Writing in English(es)', the Nigerian poet Tope Omoniyi presentsthe use of English by creative writers outside the inner circle. Using himselfand other writers as examples, he illustrates the development of 'multivarietyEnglishes' as a medium of artistic expression that transcends languageboundaries. This, as he points out, goes hand in hand with the fact that theworld we live in is overcoming language and cultural boundaries and becoming aglobal community.

In 'Online Englishes', Mark Warschauer, Rebecca Black and Yen-Lin Chou introducethe growing presence of online communication in people's lives, and compare itto other forms of interaction. They point out that, despite the evidentdominance of English as the language of choice in online communication, theinternet is still largely multilingual, with a significant presence ofmixed-language communication. They also illustrate different varieties of onlineEnglish and types of online communication these varieties are used in (email,blog, wiki, etc.), which shows how some linguistic features are innovative whileothers can be connected to certain historical developments.

Chapter 29, 'The Englishes of Business', by Catherine Nickerson, reviews studiesof the use of English in business-related communication in and across all threecircles, showing how the use of English as a business lingua franca (BELF) goeswell beyond the inner circle, connecting millions of international businesspeople as the neutral common ground for communication. Additionally, Nickersonpoints out the disassociation of this variety of English from inner circlevarieties, as the focus of its speakers is not on perfect reproduction of theinner circle standards but rather on successful communication and getting thejob done.

Similar to the topic of the previous chapter, 'Englishes in Advertising', byAzirah Hashim, provides an overview of research on the topic, and presents theadvertising business as a mixture of languages used to achieve different goalsand effects, and to attract specific consumers. Hashim uses Malaysia toillustrate how and why Standard English, its local variety, and other locallanguages are used, and what effects this code-mixing has.

In Chapter 31, 'The Englishes of Popular Cultures', Andrew Moody stresses theimportance of studying English in popular culture because of thetransnationalism of popular culture and its ability to spread the use of Englishacross borders and cultures. He draws a line between the English of popularculture, a variety of English in its own right, and English in popular culture.The latter is the more studied one, despite its disregard for the influence ofpopular culture on the language itself.

In the final chapter of this section, 'Thank You for Calling: Asian Englishesand 'Native-Like' Performance in Asian Call Centres', Kingsley Bolton presentshis study of call recordings from a major call centre in the Philippines. Heexplores the views of employers and employees towards native-like performance,and ways in which performance is achieved and judged, while also addressing theinteraction between international operations and world globalisation, and locallives and linguistic practices.

Section V - Debates and Pedagogical Implications

This section covers the effects and implications of such a large number ofEnglish varieties on the practice of English teaching and scholarship. Chapter33, 'Which Norms in Everyday Practice: And Why?', by T. Ruanni F. Tupas,addresses classroom practice as the central aspect of the issue. He presents twostudies, conducted in Singapore and the Philippines, which illustrate a conflictbetween the teacher's obligation to teach the standard and their opennesstowards the use of different varieties and norms in situations outside theclassroom, when the purpose of interaction is not education but communication.

'Construing Meaning in World Englishes' addresses the same issue in the contextof university education. Ahmar Mahboob and Eszter Szenes use a systemicfunctional linguistics tool to analyse three essays, one by an Australianstudent of Sri Lankan background, one by a Singaporean student of Indianbackground, and the final one by an Australian citizen of Indian background. Theresults show that, while using the same linguistic tools to create their work,all three have different approaches to expressing their different heritage andidentity, which leads the authors to conclude that research on World Englishesneeds to go beyond geography-based varieties, and focus more on the context of use.

In Chapter 35, 'Which Test of Which English and Why?', Brian Tomlinson presentsan evaluation of several widely-used English language tests, showing how mosttests in use nowadays judge the learner's proficiency in Standard British orAmerican English. He suggests that learners should instead be tested in thevarieties they use to communicate in their local environment, and offers eighttesting criteria that would achieve greater fairness and reliability in judgingthe learner's proficiency in their variety of English.

Chapter 36, 'When Does an Unconventional Form Become an Innovation?', by DavidC.S. Li, discusses the distinction between learner errors and innovations. Theauthor illustrates how certain illogicalities of the English grammar system leadto many learner errors. These non-standard features are, however, becoming morelegitimate as the awareness of the many varieties of English grows and as thesevarieties become more acceptable as alternatives to the inner circle standards.

Chapter 37, 'Academic Englishes: A Standardised Knowledge?', by Anna Mauranen,Carmen Pérez-Llantada and John M. Swales, also addresses the issue of standards.They look at the use of English for academic purposes and point out thecomplexity of academic English and the existence of its varieties, e.g. Britishvs. American, and male vs. female. They present existing tendencies tostreamline academic English towards the inner circle standards, which is evidentin the language preferences of major publishing houses. These tendencies arecompared with the alternative spread and acceptance of other varieties ofEnglish as the academic lingua franca.

The final chapter of this section, 'Cameroon: Which Language, When and Why?', byAugustin Simo Bobda, uses Cameroon to exemplify the issue of which language isand should be used in the educational system. Cameroon was a colony of Englandand France, and thus both English and French are used in schools, beginning froma young age. This illustrates how colonial languages are still dominant inAfrica, shadowing the richness and variety of local languages. The authorpredicts that this situation is not likely to change in the near future.

Section VI - The Future

The final section consists of a single chapter, 'The Future of Englishes: One,Many or None?', by Alastair Pennycook. The author discusses the three possibleoutcomes of the current state of the English language: the ''continuation ofEnglish'', ''the plurality of Englishes'', and ''the demise of English''. He showshow the future depends on a number of political and economic factors, as well ason our theoretical views on language. In our study of the language, we need totake into consideration the cultural and language ideologies that come with eachvariety, and think of English as the ''translingua franca English'' in thisincreasingly global, multicultural and hybrid world.


Considering the spread and development the English language has beenexperiencing across the globe, the need for this volume is obvious. It is afascinatingly varied collection, covering familiar issues of historical andgeographical variation, standards and teaching, as well as new areas of study,such as cultural and functional variation, e.g. online English, non-nativecreative writing, and the English of call centres, to name but a few. It is wellstructured in thematic sections, providing a wider perspective and easing accessto individual aspects of the field.

The book is indeed a useful reference tool, not only for advanced undergraduatesand postgraduate students of applied linguistics and English language, but forany other researcher and practitioner in the field, including students new tothe area. It opens up a wide variety of study fields that might spark students'interest and direct their future academic development. The chapters are clearand short, presenting historical overviews of the topics discussed, ongoingdebates, and predictions for the future. They contain a large number ofimportant and useful references with regard to the topics under discussion andoffer suggestions for further reading. Furthermore, I would recommend it to allEnglish teachers. As a wonderful window into the many historical, cultural andfunctional faces of English, this handbook will help improve their understandingof the phenomenon of World Englishes and English as the lingua franca, and helpput their own teaching practices into a global communication context. Forteachers of applied linguistics it is a valuable source of texts to be assignedas course readings and starting points of class discussions, as well as a way offamiliarizing themselves with areas that are not their primary research interest.

However, as the editor warns in the Introduction, ''There are simply too manyEnglishes and varieties of these to be covered in a single volume''. Indeed, thetitle, ''Handbook of World Englishes'', is slightly misleading, as it provides anoverview and description of only a selected number of Englishes, and focusesmore on recent trends and debates in the study of the phenomenon. It is not thebest choice for those teaching or taking a course on the varieties of Englishthat covers various phonological and grammatical features, as there are very fewchapters that address linguistic features (mostly just in Sections I and II, aswell as Chapters 22 and 23). However, although the coverage of linguisticfeatures of the varieties that are discussed is not as in depth as one mightwish, most likely due to reasons of space, the list of suggested readings andreferences points us in the right direction, and thus fulfills the purpose of ahandbook as a reference tool.

'The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes', although not as comprehensive asone might wish, is still impressive in managing to cover such a wide variety ofissues in such a broad field. It not only provides us with a historicalperspective of the issues, but also wonderfully captures the current state ofaffairs in the field and predictions for the development of English. In thisway, while improving our understanding of the status of English in the present,it is a 'time capsule', and will be widely referenced in the future as a sourceof information and understanding of the status of English in the 'past'.


Kachru, B. B. (ed.). (1992). The Other Tongue: English Across Cultures. Urbana,Chicago: University of Illinois Press.


Dragana Surkalovic is a PhD student in Theoretical Linguistics at CASTL in Tromsø, Norway. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in English Linguistics. She specializes in suprasegmental phonology, with special interest in the modularity of language and the syntax-phonology interface. In addition to linguistics, she finds great joy in teaching English, and has taught various English language courses at various levels over the years.

Page Updated: 02-Jul-2011