LINGUIST List 28.99

Thu Jan 05 2017

Review: English; Lang Aquisition; Socioling; Text/Corpus Ling; Typology: Seoane, Suárez-Gómez (2015)

Editor for this issue: Clare Harshey <clarelinguistlist.org>


Date: 11-Aug-2016
From: Ana Lucia Fonseca <analucia.sbfgmail.com>
Subject: Englishes Today
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/27/27-305.html

EDITOR: Cristina Suárez-Gómez
EDITOR: Elena Seoane
TITLE: Englishes Today
SUBTITLE: Multiple Varieties, Multiple Perspectives
PUBLISHER: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
YEAR: 2015

REVIEWER: Ana Lucia Simoes Borges Fonseca, Universidade Federal de Sergipe

Reviews Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry

SUMMARY

Englishes Today: Multiple Varieties, Multiple Perspectives is composed of scholarly articles based on presentations delivered at the international conference ‘Englishes Today: Theoretical and Methodological Issues’, held in Vigo, in 2013. It was edited by Cristina Suárez-Gómez and Elena Seoane and first published in 2015, by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The book is organized into three parts: ‘Native Varieties of English,’‘Non-native Varieties of English’, which treats Asian and African varieties, and ‘English as a Foreign Language, English as a Lingua Franca’. The book consists of eight chapters preceded by a Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, Introduction and a list of Contributors. Those interested in the multiple varieties, approaches, perspectives and methodologies that characterize the study of the English language today, as Suárez-Goméz puts it, are certain to benefit from its reading, considering that the book deals with different frameworks and contexts showing challenging fields of research with a primary focus on English. Each one of the eight chapters of the volume is innovative and inspiring; and the approach of impelling the readers to implement changes in the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language because of the globalization of English deserves to be highlighted.

The authors’ and the contributors’ choice of the model proposed by Braj Kachru, who classifies English varieties into three concentric circles: Inner, Outer and Expanding (Kachru 1992, 357), serves as the general structure for the volume and captures the diverse multicultural identities and the new sociolinguistic realities involved when we think about the different Englishes that exist today. Therefore, they succeed in responding to the recent emergence of English as “the world’s first truly global language” (Crystal 2004, 4). The in-depth studies on native and non-native varieties of English and on English as a foreign language presented in the three parts of this rich book are certain to keep resonating across the most varied contexts and inspiring those interested in the expansion of the English language around the world.

The first chapter, ‘Element-final LIKE in Irish English: notes on its pervasiveness, incidence and distribution’, by Mario Serrano-Losada, makes us reflect on areas that are still understudied or obsolescent, such as the pragmatic markers. The author analyses the incidence and distribution of the pragmatic “like” in Hiberno-English to determine whether element-final “like” is used beyond private communication. To achieve his goal, he analyses the public spoken dialogue component of ICE-Ireland (Kirk and Kallen 2007) and his findings suggest that pragmatic like often crosses into formal public settings despite being more frequent in informal private conversations. His data show that element-final “like” is well entrenched in Irish English and far from being a receding dialectal marker.

The second chapter, ‘Morphological Variation of Verbs in Native Varieties of English’, by Bárbara Balle-Mascaró and Cristina Suárez-Gómez, explores the coexistence of morphological variation in the preterites and past participles of the verbs burn, learn and sink in British, American, Canadian and New Zealand English. By drawing data from the ICE corpora (International Corpus of English) and after an extensive analysis, the authors show that morphological variation exists not only in British and American English, regarding the verbs aforementioned, but also in the other two varieties. A brief but very interesting historical account of the verbs sheds more light on some aspects of the issue that could not be covered in the study. A larger corpus is needed to help to expand the search.

The third chapter, entitled ‘Does Present-day Written Ulster Scots Abandon Tradition?’, by Göran Wolf, ends the first part of the book and provides the readers with a thorough analysis of present-day Ulster Scots spelling, based on a selection of texts from a web-derived corpus called MUST-C (Miscellaneous Ulster-Scots Texts-A Corpus). The findings of such study, as the author puts it, are successful when it comes to raising the profile of smaller language varieties that, at present, do not attract much attention in a world of global languages and globalized pan-regional varieties. The chapter discusses Ulster Scots as a language variety, its spelling across time, and the renaissance of Ulster Scots that has taken place since 1990.

The fourth chapter introduces the second part of the book and is entitled ‘Down the Passive Gradient: from agentive to borderline Get + Past Participle Constructions in Singaporean English’, by Eduardo Coto Villalibre. The author reports on his findings about “get”-constructions in contemporary Singaporean English attested in the spoken part of the Singaporean component of the International Corpus of English (ICE-SIN), using the corresponding part of the British component (ICE-GB). This comparative study explores, in detail, the five subclasses that illustrate the gradient, offering ideas that might be used to carry out further research on the topic. Amongst the author’s findings, is information that points towards a diachronic change and a process of grammaticalisation in central “get”-passives and “get”-constructions in general.

The fifth chapter ‘Be Going to and Have to: A Corpus Study of Sri Lankan English Usage in Comparison to British and American English’, by Manel Herat, investigates the use of the ‘quasi-modals’ be going to and have to in Sri Lankan English (SLE), a variety of English that is originally based on British English. She makes comparisons to two reference varieties: British English, as the superstrate, and American English, a variety to which Sri Lankan English is currently widely exposed. The use of these two forms is then compared with the corresponding modals “will” and “must” in written SLE to determine which forms are most common, and data from BNC and COCA is compared with the data obtained in the research. The chapter treats a number of questions developed on the basis of Schneider’s (2003, 2007) dynamic model.

The sixth chapter, ‘The Predominance of English in the South African Context: An Issue of Identity’, by Pedro Álvarez Mosquera, focuses on some of the most notable identity implications of the dominant role of the English language in contemporary South Africa. Intriguing questions about the interrelation between language and identity come to mind during the reading of this chapter. The findings of this study are also intriguing, according to the author, because they show the existence of different identity struggles for whites and blacks. Such struggles result from the socio-historical background of each language/ethnic group, the importance of inner group expectations, and of the difficulties South Africans face in trying to fit in with the new social and economic realities of their society .

The seventh chapter introduces the third and last part of the book and is entitled ‘A Portrait of English and Its User in Japanese Junior High School Textbooks’, by Amy Aisha Brown. The questions under investigation in the study correspond to and intend to be comparable with the ones investigated in Matsuda’s (2002), who conducted the first in a series of analyses investigating representations in Japanese English as a foreign language. After careful analysis, the author concludes that textbook publishers and the system that sanctions them still relegate users from outside the inner circle to peripheral positions. Despite demonstrating an unexpected amount of diversity, the textbooks present an imbalanced picture of English use in the world today. Such a fact calls the readers’ attention to their own reality and makes them reflect on the importance of encouraging students to reflect on the wider use of English in the world today.

The eighth and last chapter of the book, ‘Apologies in Interlanguage Pragmatics: The Role of Retrospective Verbal Reports in Oral Production’, by Vicente Beltrán-Palanques and Alicia Martinéz-Flor, reports on findings based on an investigation which examined the cognitive processes of a group of intermediate learners of English as a Foreign Language. In combination with role-play tasks, the authors used retrospective verbal reports to elicit the speech act of apologizing. By exploring students’ language of thought, aspects of their speech behavior and information about their sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic knowledge, the authors point to the importance of fostering pragmatic competence in foreign language classrooms, in order for students to be able to communicate successfully in different contexts. The study does contribute to the growing body of research in the area of Interlanguage Pragmatics.

EVALUATION

That English has a reach that extends further than any other language in human history (Kachru 2011, 156) and that it is no longer possible to speak of one English language, but of Englishes (Kachru 1992, 357) are now commonly accepted propositions. This volume, in line with these ideas and with previous studies is an invaluable source for researchers interested in the expansion of English around the world and in the development of distinctive first, second and foreign varieties.

By reflecting topics related to multicultural identities, the promotion of language equity, multilingualism, new sociolinguistic realities, and issues of identity, amongst others, the data made available by the authors in this volume are of great value. Researchers, postgraduate and graduate students and teachers in foreign and second language teaching and in multi-disciplinary courses are certain to benefit from the readings and the ideas provided by them. What is more, those willing to study and/or expand the experiences described in the scholarly articles might also also be motivated to adapt them to their needs.

In impelling interested readers to take action, according to their own sociolinguistic realities, this book goes beyond other literature on the topics discussed. The articles also equip those interested in knowing more about Englishes, with local responses that might be applied to global problems everywhere; this is one of the major strengths of the book, in my view.

There is no doubt that the volume coheres and that the authors succeed in conveying the main ideas and findings of their investigations. Something that deserves appreciation from readers is the fact that the authors themselves comment on the shortcomings of the research they carried out, instead of just pointing out its credits and their merits. But by commenting on the book’s drawbacks like, for instance, the need for larger corpora and further research, the authors encourage the readers to search for new information and shed more light on the issues under discussion.

Each chapter in the book provides thorough analyses of the issues investigated and case studies, which are of the utmost importance for researchers interested in similar approaches. The idea of English as a transnational language motivates new fields of research dealing with different areas of knowledge, methodologies, approaches and perspectives. The fact that the studies presented use a variety of research methodologies, which can be adapted to various situations in the most varied contexts, also provides a stimulus to research in the area as well.

The only suggestion I have is to include a glossary of the terms that are specialized or might be new to novice readers – although its lack does not impair the quality of the volume.

Overall, the book is an invaluable source of empirical studies for researchers, teachers, students and people interested in learning more about Englishes today. Those in search of studies that will inform them about recent literature on the topics and on empirical investigations that might (and should!) be used as a model for future studies are certain to find some of the answers they are looking for in this volume.

REFERENCES

Crystal, David. 2004. The Language Revolution. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Kachru, Braj. 1992. Teaching World Englishes. In The Other Tongue: English across Cultures, edited by Braj Kachru, 355-366. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Kirk, John M., and Jeffrey L. Kallen, dirs. 2007. International Corpus of English: Ireland Component (ICE- Ireland), version 1.2 (CD-ROM).

Matsuda, Aya. 2002. Representations of Users and Uses of English in Beginning Japanese EFL Textbooks. JALT Journal 24: 182:200.

Schneider, Edgar W. 2003. The Dynamics of New Englishes: From Identity Construction to Dialect Birth. Language 79: 233-81.

_______. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties around the World. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.


ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Ana Lúcia Simões Borges Fonseca is currently working as a professor at the Department of Foreign Languages, at the Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil. Her main areas of interest are language policy, language planning, language attitudes, public policies, internationalization and teacher formation.

Page Updated: 05-Jan-2017