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'pure' SE. Similarly, when they write - itself a minority activity - the consistent use of SE is required
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  ã Sincethe1980s,thenotionof standard hascometotheforeinpublicdebateabouttheEnglishlanguage.Atnationallevel,inseveralcountries butespeciallyintheUK),theconcernhasfocusedonthedevisingofanacceptablenationalcurriculumforEnglishinprimaryandsecondaryeducation. Atinternationallevel,thefocushasbeenonthequestionofwhichnationalstandardstouseinteachingEnglishasaforeignlanguage. In bothcontexts,however,thereisaneedforclearunderstandingaboutwhatStandardEnglish SE)actuallyis.Disentanglingtheissuesisbestdonefirstatnationallevel,wheretheissueshavebeenaroundalongtime,andarereasonablywellunderstood.FromthedozensofdefinitionsavailableintheliteratureonEnglish,wemayextractfiveessentialcharacteristics. DefiningStandardEnglish ãSEisavarietyofEnglish-adistinctivecombinationoflinguisticfeatureswithaparticularroletoplay.Somepeoplecallita dialect ofEnglish-andsoitis,butofaratherspecialkind,forithasnolocalbase.ThereisnothinginthegrammarandvocabularyofapieceofSEtotelluswhichpartofacountryitcomesfrom.ãThelinguisticfeaturesofSEarechieflymattersofgrammar,vocabularyandorthography spellingandpunctuation).ItisimportanttonotethatSEisnotamatterofpronunciation:SEisspokeninawidevarietyofaccents including,ofcourse,anyprestigeaccentacountrymayhave,suchasBritishReceivedPronunciation).ãSEisthevarietyofEnglishwhichcarriesmostprestigewithinacountry. Prestige isasocialconcept,wherebysomepeoplehavehighstandingintheeyesofothers,whetherthisderivesfromsocialclass,materialsuccess,politicalstrength,popularacclaim,oreducationalbackground.TheEnglishthatthesepeoplechoosetousewill,bythisveryfact,becomethestandardwithintheir IsthereaWorldStandardEnglish DavidCrystalinvestigates community. In thewordsofoneUSlinguist,SEis theEnglishusedbythepowerful amesSledd).ãTheprestigeattachedtoSEisrecognisedbyadultmembersofthecommunity,andthismotivatesthemtorecommendSEasadesirableeducationaltarget.Itisthevarietywhichisusedasthenormofcommunicationbythecommunity sleadinginstitutions,suchasitsgovernment,lawcourts,andmedia. It isthereforethevarietywhichislikelytobethemostwidelydisseminatedamongthepublic.Itwill,accordingly,bewidelyunderstood-thoughnotbyeveryone,andwithvaryingcomprehensionofsomeofitsfeatures thusmotivatingthedemandsofthe plainEnglish campaigns).Itmayormaynotbeliked.ãAlthoughSEiswidelyunderstood,itisnotwidelyproduced.Onlyaminorityofpeoplewithinacountry e.g.radionewscasters)actuallyuseitwhentheytalk.MostpeoplespeakavarietyofregionalEnglish,oranadmixtureofstandardandregionalEnglishes,andreservesuchlabelsas BBCEnglish or theQueen sEnglish forwhattheyperceivetobea pure SE.Similarly,whentheywrite-itselfaminorityactivitytheconsistentuseofSEisrequiredonlyincertaintasks suchasalettertoanewspaper,butnotnecessarilytoaclosefriend).Morethananywhereelse,SEistobefoundinprint.Onthisbasis,wemaydefinetheStandardEnglishofanEnglish-speakingcountryasaminorityvariety identifiedchieflybyitsvocabulary,grammar,andorthography)whichcarriesmostprestigeandismostwidelyunderstood. WorldStandardEnglish? If wereadthenewspapersorlistentothenewscastersaroundtheEnglish-speakingworld,wewillquicklydeveloptheimpressionthatthereisaWorldStandardEnglish WSE),actingasastronglyunifyingforceamongthevastrangeofvariationwhichexists.However,atotallyuniform,regionallyneutral,andunarguablyprestigiousvarietydoesnotyetexistworldwide.ãEachcountrywhereEnglishisafirstlanguageisawareofitslinguisticidentity,andisanxioustopreserveitfromtheinfluenceofothers.NewZealandersdonotwanttobeAustralians;Canadiansdonotwanttobe Americans ,and Americanism isperceivedasadangersignalbyusageguardianseverywhere exceptintheUSA).ãAllothercountriescanbegroupedintothosewhichfollowAmericanEnglish,thosewhichfollowBritishEnglish,andthose suchasCanada)wherethereisamixtureofinfluences.Oneofthemostnoticeablefeaturesofthisdividedusageisspelling. In certaindomains,suchascomputingandmedicine,USspellingsarebecomingincreasinglywidespread  program,disk,pediatrics , butwearealongwayfromuniformity.ãAgreatdealoflexicaldistinctivenesscanbeobservedinthespecialisedtermsoflocalpolitics,business,cultureandnaturalhistory,andinthe domestic columnsofnationalnewspapers suchasWantAds).Thereisalsoacertainamountofgrammaticaldistinctiveness,especiallybetweenUSandUKEnglish.ãThenotionofa standardpronunciation isusefulintheinternationalsettingofEnglishasasecondorforeignlanguage,butheretoothereismorethanoneteachingmodel-chiefly,BritishReceivedPronunciationandUSGeneralAmerican.WoulditbemoreprestigiousforareportfromaninternationalbodytobeinBritishorAmericanspelling?  ãThequestionofprestigeisnoteasytodetermine,ataninternationallevel,becauseofthedifferentnationalhistorieswhichcoexist.WoulditbemoreprestigiousforareportfromaninternationalbodytoappearinBritishorAmericanspelling?Shoulditreferto c rs or  utomobiles Whatimagedoitsauthorswishtoconvey?Decisionsaboutsuchmattersaremadeininnumerablecontextseveryday.Itwilltaketimebeforetheworldseesaconsensus,andonlytimewilltellwhetherthisconsensuswilldisplaythedominationofapresent-dayvarietyofEnglish suchasAmericanEnglish),developanew,compositevariety asinthekindofEnglishcommonlyheardinthecorridorsofpoweroftheEuropeanCommunity,andsometimescalled Euro-English ),orcreateanentirelyfreshvariety,basedonasetofassumptionsaboutthoseaspectsofEnglishwhicharemostusefulforinternationalpurposes asintheproposalintheearly1980stodevelopa nuclear kindofEnglishwhichwouldincludeonlythemostcommunicativefeaturesofgrammarandvocabulary).Itis,accordingly,difficulttoknowwhattoexpect,whenalanguagedevelopsaworldwidepresencetotheextentthatEnglishhas.Therearenoprecedentsforsuchageographicalspreadorforsomanyspeakers.Moreover,thespeedatwhichithasallhappenedisunprecedented:althoughthehistoryofworldEnglishcanbetracedback400years,thecurrentgrowthspurtinthelanguagehasahistoryoflessthan40years.Therehasneverbeensuchanincreaseinindependentstates UNmembershiphasmorethandoubledsince1960)norsuchagrowthinworldpopulation from2.5thousandmillionin1950to5.6thousandmillionin1994).HowwillEnglishfare howwouldanylanguagefare?),facedwithsuchresponsibilitiesandhavingtorespondtosuchpressures? The onflictbetweenInternationalismandIdentity Theexamplesabovesuggestthattherearetwochiefissues-ofinternationalismandofidentity.Theproblemisthattheseconflict.Intheformercase,anationlooksoutfromitselfattheworldasawhole,andtriestodefineitsneedsinrelationtothatworld.Inthelattercase,anationlookswithinitselfatthestructureofitssocietyandthepsychologyofitspeople,andtriestodefineitsneedsinrelationtoitssenseofnationalidentity.Correspondinglinguisticissuesautomaticallyarise.ãInternationalismimpliesintelligibility.IfthereasonforanynationwishingtopromoteEnglishistogiveitaccesstowhatthebroaderEnglish-speakingworldhastooffer,thenitiscrucialforitspeopletobeabletounderstandtheEnglishofthatworld,andtobeunderstoodintheirturn.Inshort,internationalismdemandsanagreedstandard-ingrammar,vocabulary,spelling,pronunciation,andconventionsofuse-andpromotesthenotionofaWorldStandardEnglish.ãIdentityimpliesindividuality.Ifanationwishestopreserveitsuniquenessortoestablishitspresence,andtoavoidbeingananonymousingredientinaculturalmelting-pot,thenitmustsearchforwaysofexpressingitsdifferencefromtherestoftheworld.Flags,uniforms,andothersuchsymbolswillhavetheirplace,butnothingwillbesonaturallyanduniversallypresentasanationallanguage-or,ifthereisnone,anationalvarietyofaninternationallanguage.Inshort,inthecontextofEnglish,identitydemandslinguisticdistinctiveness-ingrammar,vocabulary,spelling,pronunciation,orconventionsorlanguageuse-andpromotesthenotionofadiversesetofRegionalStandardEnglishes. The riveforIntelligibility Thepressureforinternationalintelligibilityisverystrong,andmaybynowbeunstoppable.Internationaltravel,satellitebroadcasting,worldpressandtelevision,worldstockmarkets,multinationalcorporations,intergovernmentalagencies,andmanyotherinstitutionshaveguaranteedasituationofdailycontactforhundredsofmillionsofEnglishspeakerswhotogetherrepresenteverymajorvariety.Historicalloyalties e.g.toBritain)havebeenlargelyreplacedbypragmatic,utilitarianreasoning.IfusingBritishEnglishcansellgoodsandservices,thenletBritishEnglishbeused.IfitneedsAmericanEnglish,thensobeit.Andleteitherorothersbyemployedasoccasiondemands.Itisnotsurprising,insuchaclimate,tofindacoreofEnglishgrammar,vocabularyandorthographyalreadyinwidespreaduse,atleastinprint.Thereis,however,stillsomewaytogobeforetheworldarrivesatalevelofuniformusagewhichwillguaranteeinternationalintelligibi~ityatlevelscomparabletothosefoundintranationally.Breakdownsincommunicationduetodifferencesinidiom,vocabulary,orgrammararecommonenough,evenbetweenBritishandAmericanEnglish,anddifferencesinregionalaccentcanbedevastating. The riveforIdentity Thepressuretofosternationalidentityisalsoverystrong,andthesignsarethatdivergenceisincreasing.The1990shasseennoreductioninthenumberofconflictswhichinvolveregionstryingtoestablishtheirindependence,andoneconsequenceofsuccessfulnationalismistheearlyadoptionofspeechformsmarkingalinguisticdistancebetweenthenewnationanditscolonialantecedents.Twolocalfactorsreadilyfosterthisdistancing:ãItisinevitable,firstofall,thatwhenEnglishisinclosecontactwithotherlanguages,itwilladoptsomeofthecharacteristicsofthoselanguages,especiallytheirvocabularyandprosody.Thelatter,inparticular,canbeamajorsourceoflocalvarietyidentity,asisheardinthedistinctivestresstimerhythmofIndianorCaribbeanEnglish,ortherisingintonationsofAustralianandNewZealandEnglish.ãSecondly,thefactthatEnglishisfoundallovertheworldmeansthatitwillbeusedtoexpressanunparalleledrangeoffauna,flora,andculturalfeatures.EachEnglish-speakingcountrywillaccordinglyfinditselfwiththousandsofwordstoexpressitslocalcharacter.Whetherweviewthesewordsaspartofaworldstandardoraregionalstandardwilldependchieflyontheextenttowhichtheworldatlargeisinterestedinthenotionstheyexpress.Thus,inSouthAfricanEnglish  p rtheid and imp l havebecomepartofthegeneralEnglishvocabulary,whereas dorp  smalltownorvillage )and bredie  typeofstew )havenot.ThewordsmostresistanttoworldstandardisationwillbethosewhichalreadyhaveequivalentsinStandardBritishorAmericanEnglish,suchas outwith  Scots, outside )or godown  Indian, warehouse ).Theremaybeanaturalbalancewhichthelanguagewilleventuallyachieve.Anationalisticclimatemaycauseavarietytomoveinaparticulardirectionawayfromitssourcestandard,butmaythenbepulledbackwhenmoderateswithinthecommunityfinditincreasinglydifficulttounderstandwhatisbeingsaid.Anexampleofthisactuallyhappeningwasreportedin1985byAlanMaley,atthetimetheBritishCouncilRepresentativeinSouthIndia:MrsIndiraGandhiwaspromptedtowritetoherMinistryofEducationnotsolongagotocomplainoffallingstandardsofEnglishinIndia,reportedlyafterattendinganinternationalmeetingat    whatisstandardenglish?   whichshehadbeenunabletounderstandthecontributionoftheIndiandelegate(speakinginEnglish).ThefeaturesofIndianEnglishwhichgaveMrsGandhiaproblemarewell-recognised.Whetherherreactionwasrepresentativeandinfluentialremainstobeseen.  hefutureof nglish ThereisnolinguisticsubjectmorepronetoemotionalrhetoricorwildexaggerationthatthefutureoftheEnglishlanguage.Heightsofoptimismcompletewithdepthsofpessimism.AmongtheoptimistswemaycitetheGermanphilologistJakobGrimm,whoaddressedthepointinalecturepublishedin1852: Ofallmodemlanguages,notonehasacquiredsuchgreatstrengthsandvigourastheEnglish...(it)maybecalledjustlyaLANGUAGEOFTHEWORLDandseems,liketheEnglishnation,tobedestinedtoreigninfuturewithstillmoreextensiveswayoverallpartsoftheglobe. InthelateVictorianperiod,estimatesofthenumbersofmother-tongueEnglishspeakerslivingacenturythereafter(i.e.today)oftenreachedastronomicalheights.Onewriter,inanissueofThePhoneticJournal(13September1873)calculated(withhopefulprecision)thatbytheyear2000thistotalwouldbe1,837,286,153-anestimatewhich,withthebenefitofhindsight,canbeseentobeinerrorbyafactorofsix.SuchtotalswerecommonplaceintheheadyatmospherewhichaccompaniedtheclimaxofBritishandAmericancolonialexpansion.Bycontrast,therewerethepessimists,predictingthatwithinacenturytheEnglishlanguagewouldbeinfragments.HerewemaycitetheBritishphilologistHenrySweet,whowrotein1877: ...bythattime(acenturyhence)England,America,andAustraliawillbespeakingmutuallyunintelligiblelanguages,owingtotheirindependentchangesofpronunciation. ThesamepointhadbeenmadenearlyacenturybeforebyNoahWebster,inhisDissertationsontheEnglishLanguage(1789).Websterthoughthatsuchadevelopmentwouldbe necessaryandunavoidable ,andwouldresultin alanguageinNorthAmerica,asdifferentfromthefuturelanguageofEngland,asthemodemDutch,DanishandSwedisharefromtheGerman,orfromoneanother .FromWebster spro-Americanpointofview,ofcourse,thiswouldnothavebeensuchabadthing.NeitherGrimmnorSweetprovedtobeaccurateprophets.Englishhasindeedbecomeaworldlanguage,butitisbynomeanseverywhereanditisbynomeansalwayswelcome.AndEnglishhasindeeddevelopedmanyspokenvarieties,butthesearebynomeansmutuallyunintelligible.PerhapstheonlysafegeneralisationtobemadeisthatpredictionsaboutthefutureofEnglishhaveahabitofbeingwrong. ProfessorDavidCrystal author lecturer broadcasteronlanguageandlinguistics isalsoaneditorofreferencebooks.HeisauthorofAnEncyclopedicDictionaryofLanguageandLanguagesandeditoroftheCambridgeConciseEncyclopedia.HeisamemberoftheESU sEnglishLanguageCommittee.
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