World Englishes and Applied Linguistics

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    AUTHOR Kachru, Braj B.TITLE World Englishes and Applied Linguistics.PUB DATE 91NOTE 29p.; In: Tickoo, Makhan L., Ed. Languages &

    Standards: Issues, Attitudes, Case Studies; see FL019 461.PUB TYPE

    Viewpoints (Opinion/Position Papers, Essays, etc.)(120)

    EDRS PRICE MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage.DESCRIPTORS *Ap?lied Linguistics; *English (Second Language);Foreign Countries; *Language Standardization;

    Language VariationIDENTIFIERS uWorld Englishes


    This paper addresses the issue of the relationshipbetween World Englishes (WE) and applied linguistics. The diffusionof English is seen in terms of three concentric circles: the InnerCircle (first-language varieties, e.g., the United States, UnitedKingdom), the Outer Circle(English-as-a-Second-Language varieties),and the Expanding Circle

    (English-as-a-Foreign-Language varieties).The discussj.on is essentially restricted to the Outer Circle in wn:i.chthe institutionalizednon-native varieties of English are used inmultilingual and multicultural contexts, and focuses on four majorissues, including: theoretical, applied, societal, and ideological.The paper is divided into the following sections: ontological issues;conflict between idealization and reality; acquisition andcreativity; the "leaking paradigms"; cultural content of English;ideological change; where applied linguistics fails the Outer Circleof English; and types of fallacies about WEs. (Authcr/JL)

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    BO Kachns


    This paper addresses the issue of the relationship between wo,:d Englishes(WE) and applied linguistics. The diffusion of English is seen in terms ofthree concentric circles: the Inner Circle (LI varieties, e.g. the USA,United Kingdom), the Outer Circle (ESL varieties), and the ExpandingCircle (EFL varieties). The discussion is essentially restricted to the OuterCircle in which the institutionalized non-native varieties of English arc usedin multilingual and multicultural contexts. The discussion is about fourmajor issues: theoretical, applied, societal and ideological, and focusesspecifically on (a) attitudes concerning the ontological status of the varietiesof English; (b) generalizations about the creative strategics used for learn-ing English in multilingual/multicultural contexts; (c) descriptions of thepragmatic and interactional contexts of WEs and their implications; (d)assumptions concerning multi-cultural identities of WEs; (e) assumptionsabout the role of English in initiating ideological and social change; and (f)assumptions about communicative competence in English. The paper isdivided into the followiag sections: ontological issues; conflict betweenidealization and reality, acquisition and creativity, the 'leaking paradigms';cultural content of English; ideological change; where applied linguisticsfails the Outer Circle of English; and types of fallacies about WEs. Thisstudy does not view applied linguistics as divorced from social concerns: theconcerns of relevance to the society in which we live. This view, then,entails social responsibility and accountability for research in appliedlinguistics.


    The choice of world Englishes as the starting point of this paper calls fortwo types of explanations. One, that of terminology. why 'world Englishc%', andnot just world 'English'? Second, that of justification of relationship: why chooseworld &Wishes to address the issues related to applied linguistics? There is nosimple or short answer to the first question. An answer to this question, as weknow, entails more than pure linguistic issues, the issues of attitude, andadditionally several extralioguistic factors. During the last two decades areasonable body of research has been done to provide answers to this question.

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  • (Fs)r bibliographic references see Kachru 1985 and 1986a.) What I would like toattempt in this paper, therefore, is to provide a perspective for the secondquestion, that of the justification of the relationship between world Englishesand applied linguistics, a perspective which is essentially that of the user ofEnglish who belongs to the Outer Circle of English out of the three concentriccircles outlined below. Note that South Africa (pop. 29,628,000) and Jamaica(pop. 2,407,000) are not listed. The reason is the sociolinguistic complexity ofthese two countries in terms of their English-using populations and the functionsof English. (See Kachru 1985: 12-14.)

    The "Expanding Coda 2

    China 1.088.200,000Egypt 50273,000Indonesia 175,904,000Israel 4,512,000Japan 122,620,000Korea 42,593,000Nepal 18.004.000Saudi Arabia 12,972,000Taiwan 19,813,000USSR 285,796,000Zimbabwe 8,878.000

    The 'Outer


    KenyaMalaysiaNigeriaPakistanPhilippinesSingaporeSri LankaTanzaniaZambia







    (The 'Inner Cade"

    USA 2 t5,800,000UK 57.006,000Canada 25,880.000Australia 16,470,000Now Ze alarms 3,366,000



  • It seems to me that this perspective not only defines my approach to ourunderstanding of the global spread of English, but to some extent it also definesthe goals which I set for the field of applied linguistics.

    The relationship between world Englishes and applied linguistics as a fieldof research and inquiry is motivated by several types of issues: theoretical andapplied, as well as societal and ideological.

    I wfil start with what I consider the theoretical issues. Since the 1950s therehas been intense activity in the linguistic sciences for analysis and description oftwo main varieties of the English language, American and British. Extensivedata banks have been established on English at the centers of research at theuniversities of Birmingham, Brown, London, and Lund, to name just four. Andsuch data banks are also being developed in Asia and Africa (see e.g.Greenbaum 1989 and Shastri 1985). The largest number of applied linguists invarious parts of the world are working in ESL/EFL related contexts. And, atsome places, the term 'applied linguistics' is often wrongly equated with theteaching of ESL/EFL.

    The research on second language acquisition, first language acquisition, anddifferent aspects of sociolinguistics has primar;ly focused on English.Additionally the interdisciplinary fields of stylistics, and bilingual andmonolingual lexicography have also concentrated on English. The major insightsgained in the theory of translation are derived from the translation of texts ofEnglish into other languages of the world, and of those languages into English.Generalizations about natural languages, their structural characteristics, and thepossible categories of language universals usually begin with analyses of andexamples from English. In short, what we see, linguistically andsociolinguistically speaking, is that the field of linguistics and its applications areclosely linked to one major language of our time, English. And almost the totalspectrum of applied linguistic research, its strengths and limitations, can bedemonstrated with reference to this language. One might, then, say that the lastfour decades have been the decades of English.

    Moreover, English has acquired unprecedented sociological and ideologicaldimensions. It is now well-recognized that in linguistic history no language hastouched the lives of so many people, in so many cultures and continents,'in somany functional roles, and with so much prestige, as has the English languagesince the 1930s. And, equally important, across cultures English has beensuccessful in creating a class of people who have greater intellectual power inmultiple spheres of language use unsurpassed by any single language before; notby Sanskrit during its heyday, not by Latin during its grip on Europe, and not byFrench during the peak of the colonial period.

    The reasons for the diffusion and penetration of English are complex, andthese have been extensively discussed in earlier literature.3 However, onedimension of the diffusion of English is especially important to us, particularly

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  • those of its who represent the developing world, who are directly influenced bythe research in applied linguistics, and who are considered the main beneficiariesof the insights gained by such research. Again, it is the developing world inwhich the English language has become one of the most vital tools of ideologicaland social change, and at the same time an object of intense controversy.

    It is this developing world which forms an important component of thethree Concentric Circles of English: the Inner Circle, the Outer Circle, and theExpanding Circle. These three circles, as has repeatedly been mentioned in theliterature, bring to the English language (and, of course, to its literature, too) aunique cultural pluralism, and a variety of speech fellowships. These threecircles