Wiki Pages > Researching > Bibliography > Translation > World Englishes and English as a Lingua Franca
The importance of English as a global language has manifested itself in two primary ways. First, many regions around the world use their own variations of English called “World Englishes.” Second, English has become the world’s lingua franca for groups who do not share a common first language. According to Dr. Ahmar Mahboob of the University of Sydney, World Englishes (WE) and English as a lingua franca (ELF) can be positioned at the opposite ends of a continuum: WE represents divergence of the language—language developed and used for a local audience—while ELF represents the convergence of different varieties of the language for the purpose of international communication (Ike, 2013, p. 108). Both are the bases of growing fields of study. This article generally explains ELF and WE and summarizes existing research.

World Englishes

World Englishes (WE) has roots in British colonialism.  According to Michael Bokor, there are three levels to consider regarding World Englishes: the inner circle, composed of native English speakers (US, UK, AUS); the outer circle, composed of former colonies of English speaking countries where English has a strong presence (India, Pakistan); and the expanding circle, composed of countries where English has no official use, but is still used, for example in business (Sweden, Japan). Fundamentally, World Englishes are forms of English that have been developed by non-native speakers (e.g., Indian English, Ghanaian English, Malaysian English, etc.) and are widely used in business and technical communities without recourse to the standards of American English (Bokor, 2011, p. 116). The importance of English in technical communication has increased by the need for improved international transfer of scientific and technical information through the quickest possible means.  Aided by developments in information and communication technology and a growing world economy, English is indispensable for trade, development and communication.  “Edmond Weiss (2005) estimated that out of the current 1.5 billion users of English globally, there are only 400 million native speakers, about 300 million of whom are in the United States alone (p. 4). McArthur (1992) predicted that the current ratio of four non-native speakers to one native speaker will widen as English reinforces itself as the world’s lingua franca. Flaitz (1988) also claimed that the language is “gradually disengaging itself from its mother-tongue cultures” (p. 40).  In this sense, Kachru (1992) predicted that it is the non-native speakers who will shape the future direction of the English language, making native speakers minority stakeholders in the use of this global resource” (Bokor, 2011, p. 116-117).

English as a Lingua Franca

English as a lingua franca (ELF) refers to the use of English between people who do not share the same first language (Leyland, 2011, p. 827). ELF is also “defined functionally by its use in intercultural communication rather than formally by its reference to native-speaker norms” (Hülmbauer, 2008, p. 27), whereas English as a foreign language aims at meeting native speaker norms and gives prominence to native speaker cultural aspects (Hülmbauer, 2008, p. 28). Even though lingua francas have been used for centuries, ELF is unique because of how widely it is used.  A Dane and a Spaniard could use ELF in a café in Bruges or a Japanese businessman and Czech woman could converse using ELF. The way English is used as a lingua franca is variable depending on the situation. For the most part, function is more important than form; communicative efficiency (i.e. getting the message across) is more important than correctness (Cogo, 2008, p. 60). For example, the following lexicogrammatical features may appear, depending on the region:
  1. Use of 3rd person singular zero, as in you look very sad and he look very sad
  2. Shift in the use of articles (including some preference for zero articles) as in our countries have signed agreement about this
  3. Invariant question tags as in you’re very busy today, isn’t it? (Also the use of other similar universal forms)
  4. Treating ‘who’ and ‘which’ as interchangeable relative pronouns, as in the picture who or a person which
  5. Shift of patterns of preposition use, for example we have to study about
  6. Preference for bare and/or full infinitive over the use of gerunds, as in I look forward to see you tomorrow
  7. Extension to the collocational field of words with high semantic generality, for example take an operation
  8. Increased explicitness, for example how long time instead of how long
  9. Exploited redundancy, such as ellipsis of objects/complements of transitive verbs as in I wanted to go with, you can borrow
(Seidlhofer, 2006; Cogo, 2006, p. 73-74) These features are not required, but they tend to aid communication when used. According to Jennifer Jenkins of the University of Southampton, (Interpretations and attitudes), “ELF lacks any standards and by default exhibits errors wherever it departs from certain Inner Circle Englishes (usually British and American). This was suggested...by a questionnaire study of Expanding Circle English speakers’ attitudes towards English accents…The results showed that an attachment to ‘standard’ Inner Circle native speaker models remains firmly in place among many non-native English speakers, despite the fact that they no longer learn English to communicate primarily with its native speakers” (Jenkins, 2009, p. 202-203).

Current Scholarship

The following section will discuss current areas of study regarding World Englishes and English as a lingua franca.

World Englishes

Current scholarship on World Englishes has focused on the disparity between native speakers and non-native speakers.  “Quite often, however, scholars reduce these problems to one main issue: the proficiency problems of nonnative speakers (the ‘‘Other’’) who constitute the inter- national audiences. The assumption is that native speakers of English (who generate and disseminate the technical discourse) are competent enough in the grammar of their language to successfully perform communicative acts through the language. Thus, the nonnative speaker is blamed for the communication failure” (Bokor, 2011, p. 209) However, Andy Kirkpatrick, from his work with the Asian Corpus of English (ACE), a corpus of developing Asian varieties of English, argued that, “Chinese English is definitely developing as a legitimate variety with its own cultural values and pragmatics. Not only Chinese English, but also all the other developing varieties of English have different forms and features according to their local (national) languages, and these features should not be criticized, because they represent cultural norms that are relevant in their communication contexts” (Ike, 2011, p. 107). World Englishes has also been studied in relation to its application to teaching English.  “Within the WE paradigm, a strongly argued new role for English is that of a reconfigurer of multiple cultures and identities, leading to world Englishes, each of which potentially carries an emergent status as a global language” (Pakir, 2009, p. 227). This shift in the approach to teaching English involves courses on “language awareness” in order to change how native speakers view nonnative speakers’ so called failures.

English as a Lingua Franca

The acknowledgement that approximately 75 percent of all English speakers are ELF users has increased research regarding the subject.  “Works by linguists Seidlhofer (2004) and Jenkins (2000) have suggested that for mutual intelligibility to be achieved in ELF interactions, certain linguistic features must be adhered to. This represents an attempt to standardize ELF as a ‘linguistic phenomenon in its own right’ (Seidlhofer, 2004: 213)” (Leyland, 2011, p. 26). According to Christopher Leyland, “The findings in this study [a conversation analysis] suggest that in ELF interactions, for intelligibility, standardization is not necessary. Indeed, it seems likely that standardization would actually hinder the flow of this particular ELF interaction. Intelligibility in ELF interactions depends on successful negotiation, throughout the interaction, of the appropriate grammatical, phonological, and lexical range between participants as well as the appropriate discourse strategies. Due to this there are as many variations within ELF interactions as there are users of ELF – making its standardization or accurate codification (in Jenkins and Seidlhofer’s terms) an impossible task” (2011, p. 42).

References

Bokor, M. (2011). “Connecting with the 'Other' in Technical Communication: World Englishes and Ethos Transformation of U.S. Native English-Speaking Students.” Technical Communication Quarterly, 20(2), 208-237. p.209. doi:10.1080/10572252.2011.551503 Bokor, M. (2011). Moving International Technical Communication Forward: A World Englishes Approach. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 41(2), 113-138. p.116. doi:10.2190/TW.41.2.b Cogo, Alessia and Dewey, Martin. 2006. “Efficiency in ELF communication. From pragmatic motives to lexico-grammatical innovation.” Nordic Journal of English Studies. 59-93. p.73-74. Cogo, Allessia. (2008). “English as a Lingua Franca. Form follows function.” English Today 95 (3), 58-61. p.60. Hülmbauer, Cornelia et.al. (2008). “Introducing English as a lingua franca (ELF): Precursor and partner in intercultural communication.” Synergies Europe 3, 25-36. p.27. Ike, S. (2011). “The 17th Annual Conference of the International Association for World Englishes: Englishes in the World and the World in Englishes.” Asian Englishes, 14(2), 108. Jenkins, J. (2009). English as a lingua franca: interpretations and attitudes. World Englishes, 28(2), 200-207. p.202-203. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2009.01582.x Leyland, C. (2011). “For Mutual Intelligibility, Must English As A Lingua Franca Be Standardized?” Annual Review Of Education, Communication & Language Sciences, 825-45. p.827. Pakir, A. (2009). “English as a lingua franca: analyzing research frameworks in international English, world Englishes, and ELF.” World Englishes, 28(2), 224-235. p.227. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2009.01585.x Seidlhofer, Barbara. (2006). Towards making ‘Euro-English’ a linguistic reality. In: Bolton, Kinglsey; Kachru, Braj B. (eds.). World Englishes. Critical Concepts in Linguistics. Volume III. London: Routledge, 47-50.

World English/Lingua Franca Annotated Bibliography

Bokor, M. (2011). Connecting with the 'Other' in Technical Communication: World Englishes and Ethos Transformation of U.S. Native English-Speaking Students. Technical Communication Quarterly, 20(2), 208-237. doi:10.1080/10572252.2011.551503

This article explores Bokor’s classroom-based research on the influence that learning the world Englishes paradigm has on students.  Bokor conducted a communication class at a midwestern university with students of various levels of resistance.  The findings confirmed that exposure to the World Englishes paradigm had a positive influence on the participants and enhanced their understanding of themselves and nonnative English speakers.

Bokor, M. (2011). Moving International Technical Communication Forward: A World Englishes Approach. Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication, 41(2), 113-138. doi:10.2190/TW.41.2.b

This article argues that there is an "English language problem" that has not been adequately addressed in preparing United States native English-speaking students for international communication. Bokor draws attention to the limitations of the current strategies for training native speakers in international audience analysis and suggests the incorporation of the World Englishes perspective into training programs.

Cogo, Allessia. (2008). “English as a Lingua Franca. Form follows function.” English Today 95 (3), 58-61.

This article is a direct response to one previously published.  Cogo discusses the increasingly accepted belief that  all forms of English are equal, that ELF and WE do not exist independently,  and that ELF is both a form and a function.  The main function of the article is to refute claims made by the other, but in the process Cogo provides an succinct overview of her interpretation of ELF research.

Cogo, Alessia and Dewey, Martin. 2006. “Efficiency in ELF communication. From pragmatic motives to lexico-grammatical innovation.” Nordic Journal of English Studies. 59-93.

This paper reports on findings in both pragmatics and lexicogrammar, and attempts to identify the relationship between the two systems and highlight the ways in which they are mutually constitutive. Using conversational examples of people using English as a lingua franca, the article shows how practical motives can lead to changes in the lexis and grammar.

Hülmbauer, Cornelia et.al. (2008). “Introducing English as a lingua franca (ELF): Precursor and partner in intercultural communication.” Synergies Europe 3, 25-36.

Hülmbauer positions ELF as one of many options for multilinguals.  She shows, with research, that effective communication does not rely on conventions determined by native speakers, but on “negotiations” by speakers.  Due to this, ELF can never be considered “bad” or “wrong” English.  She ultimately concludes that ELF is not a fixed language, but a flexible one.  Her findings and arguments are generally in keeping with other ELF research.

Ike, S. (2011). The 17th Annual Conference of the International Association for World Englishes: Englishes in the World and the World in Englishes. Asian Englishes, 14(2), 106-113.

This article gave an overview of several talks given at the 17th Annual Conference of the International Association for World Englishes.  Topics include English use in China and implementation of World Englishes concepts into educational settings. The symposium featured various lecturers including Ahmar Mahboob, Ian Malcolm and Farzad Sharifian.  It condenses the information so the most important points are clear.

Jenkins, J. (2009). English as a lingua franca: interpretations and attitudes. World Englishes, 28(2), 200-207. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2009.01582.x

This paper therefore begins with an explanation of Jenkins’ own interpretation of both ELF and WE.  Jenkins explores the idea of ELF’s diversity and lack of standards.  She studies the effects of these beliefs on Expanding Circle countries and establishes that ELF raises awareness of the individual’s communicative effectiveness.  The focus on the human perspective gives this article a unique aspect.

Leyland, C. (2011). For Mutual Intelligibility, Must English As A Lingua Franca Be Standardized?. Annual Review Of Education, Communication & Language Sciences, 825-45.

This work uses Conversation Analysis (CA) of people using English as a lingua franca (ELF). The findings in this work suggest that ELF users, despite not adhering to standardized rules, achieve mutual intelligibility through negotiating their own variety of ELF depending on each other’s ability as well as various discourse strategies. This work suggests the form of ELF interactions is entirely variable and cannot be standardized.

Pakir, A. (2009). English as a lingua franca: analyzing research frameworks in international English, world Englishes, and ELF. World Englishes, 28(2), 224-235. doi:10.1111/j.1467-971X.2009.01585.x

This paper focuses on the meaning of the term ‘lingua franca,’ what is represented as a ‘lingua franca,’ and what the debates are about English as a lingua franca.  Pakir argues that WE and ELF, while fundamentally different, also have similarities and the English’s phenomenal growth is primarily Europe-driven.  However, she is tentative to make any certain claims and merely seeks to further encourage study of this field.