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World English


World English

The Oxford Guide to World English by Tom McArthur (Oxford University Press, 2002)


The English language as it is used throughout the world.

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  • "World English has been defined as a phase in the history of the English language. This phase has witnessed the transformation of English from the mother tongue of a handful of nations to a language being used by far more speakers in non-mother tongue settings. The changes that have accompanied this spread--the multiplicity of varieties--result not from the faulty and imperfect learning of the non-mother tongue speakers, but from the nature of the process of microacquisition, language spread and change."
    (Janina Brutt-Griffler, World English. Multilingual, 2002)

  • "[A]lthough world English is varied, certain varieties and registers are fairly tightly controlled, often through standardized patterns of use . . .. Thus, there is a marked uniformity in the following arenas:
    1. Airports
      In the public usage of international airports, where, on signboards, English is often twinned with other languages, and announcements are commonly in English or are multilingual including English

    2. Newspapers and periodicals
      English-language broadsheet newspapers and magazine-style periodicals, in which the texts are tightly edited . . .

    3. Broadcast media
      The programming of CNN, the BBC, and other especially TV news-and-views services, in which presentational formulas and formats are at least as crucial as in newspapers

    4. Computer use, email, and the Internet/Web
      In such computer and Internet services as those offered by Microsoft . . .."
    (Tom McArthur, The Oxford Guide to World English, 2002)

  • "The UK needs to abandon its outdated attitudes to English and embrace new forms of the language to maintain its influence in the global market, the leftwing thinktank Demos said today. . . .

    "In a series of recommendations, the report, As you like it: Catching up in an age of global English, says that far from being corruptions of English, new versions of the language, such as 'Chinglish' and 'Singlish' (Chinese and Singaporean varieties of English) have values 'that we must learn to accommodate and relate to.'

    "It says the UK should focus English teaching on how the language is now used around the world, 'not according to arcane strictures of how it should be spoken and written.' . . .

    "The report's authors, Samuel Jones and Peter Bradwell, say change is vital if the UK wants to maintain its influence around the world. . . .

    "'We have retained ways of thinking about the English language that were more suited to empire than they are to a modern, globalised world and we are at risk of becoming outdated,' says the report."
    (Liz Ford, "UK Must Embrace 'Modern' English, Report Warns." The Guardian, March 15, 2007)
Alternate Spellings: world English

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