Supporting myths

Is it just the way I read it, or is there really little interest in world English/es on this part of the forum?

Please consider this passage and tell me what you think:

The aspirations and efforts for standardization and globalization of a specific variety of English –British or American – during the colonial and post-colonial periods have largely remained a mirage. What we witness is that monolithic labels as modifiers of the English language have only marginal pragmatic, linguistic and functional validity, for example, the label ‘international lingua franca”. The use of such terms indicates continued efforts to sustain and propagate this mythology of a lingua franca, for example, by the ELT profession, multinational corporations and international publishers of pedagogical materials. The motivations for sustaining this mythology are not merely economic, but ideological too, as has been extensively discussed in literature. In this ell-coordinated and motivated drive, multiple agencies of various governments are also involved.

Asian Englishes: Beyond the Canon. By Braj B. Kachru.

Please, be truthful, Are you involved in supporting and propogating such mythologies? If so, why? Is it for ideological or political reasons? Maybe for personal economic reasons? Feelings of power and superiority you assume belong to your variant of English? What is it that pushes you to support such myths, if you do?

I think this is you reading into it.

Any teacher will teach communicable English but also how to adjust your English to your listener. If Business English, then expose people to the version spoken there.

Then we can also argue what is “teaching”.

If I use audio files from Brummies in my lessons for whatever reason, doe this mean I am teaching a Birmingham accent as a standard?

What do you see teaching to be?

But have you read Kachru or not?

The flaw in his debate is an adoption of “Asian Englishes” that would be just as divided on version or standard. Asia is a BIG place you know.
English is in a strange position as a language seen by some as a “lingua franca”. The advantage is that there now is a language many can adopt to communicate globally.

If we follow the premise of “majority rules” as it is put by Kachru, how are the other speakers of an Asian version of English going to feel?

How in your opinion does Kachru idea move away from ideology?

If we take the premise that we should change English, and have it formed on a new basis of majority user rules, why not just call it globalish, globish.

How far away from native speaker use does English have to go before it can not be seen as English?
Where do we draw a line, if any?

Who should make any decisions concerning any language? The native speakers, the learners, the people investing in the teaching of the language.

If we take the premise that you teach only the English version spoken in your region then how will this help business communication globally?

How far has Asia or Kachru gone in the role of producing their own material, teaching standards or addressing this perceived lack of balance?

An interesting counter argument is to consider your own native language.
How easily would you or people from your country be open to this kind of changes in, alteration of your own native language, be honest?

A power relationship of superiority requires someone feeling inferior. From this base the people who are seen as superior may not hold this perceived belief.

cheers stew.t.

It’s just the way you read it.

This wording alone is an indication of prejudice on your part.

This wording is also an indication of prejudice on your part.

My opinion is this: To support Molly’s myths is to support failure and chaos in communication.

This wording alone is an indication of prejudice on your part.

So, nothing really about yourself and all about Molly, again. Ah, well, moving on.

I’m busy mulling over what you said above, Stew.

Question 1:

But whose version should we adopt and will it suit our individual cultural contexts, for example?

How have we all felt up to now adopting a “BrEng and American English rules rule” approach?

But English has changed and always will. Do you understand Old English? And if we suggested choosing something like the name “Globish”, I’d still prefer “Globishes”. Note too that some Americans have suggested changing the name of their variant of English to “American”.

I’d find it exciting, challenging, and inevitable. Mind, we are only around 25,000 speakers and I’d say that no language is mine to own, to say “hand off!” about.

I’m with Kachru here, for example: Kachru “believes that anglophones in Asia have the right to determine the direction of their own varieties of a language that is no longer owned by the people for whom it was named.”

Where and how did standard British English begin? What’s local today may become more global tomorrow. The Chinese, for example, are already learning Indian English in order to do business with Indians. Maybe soon, the Chinese will be bi-dialectal or even multi-dialectal, speaking more that one variant of English well. I haven’t met many bi-dialectal Brits or Americans, have you?

Martin A Schell, in his review of Kachru’s Whose English is it? Asian Englishes: Beyond the Canon says Kachru’s “main thesis can be framed by a pair of questions: Is the English language inevitably linked with Western culture? Or is it a tool or instrument that can be applied to local commerce and literature, like adapting the design of an automobile to fit life in Japan or using a violin to play an Indian raga?”

Good questions, of a type that I seldom see aired here.


If Asians have the right to determine their language, how will they agree on one “standard”. This ignores the size and varaint of Englishes spoken there. The discusssion would go in the same direction as tensions between versions or standards now, if not more so. The majority rules, will never make all happy, especially as the majority version will be in conlfict with some version, and have certain baggage associated with it.

The point about Chinese learning an Indian version for business equates with my point of helping people to do business in an area where they need to be understood and understand.

How would adopting a version of English away from native speaker forms help when speaking with Brits or Americans.
Are we to go so fa as to say native speakers of a language should adopt the usage of the majority, in this case Asian Englishes. Are you going to start to learn this form?

If you argue for not making some feel inferior, then the Asian standard would make other Asians feel the same as your picking fault with BrE or AE.

Globish already exists and has been put foward by a French guy; Jean Paul Nerriere Parlez Globish. So shall we reduce our language to 1500 words as this theory suggests. Isn´t that a bit restrictive?

And should a French guy be allowed to determine the future of the language?

Where is the roots of Indian English, perchance British?

So if we adopt this modal of versions, then English versions could become so different from each other.

The question of being communicable still needs to be addressed.

Look a bit deeper and you may see that arguments are not as black and white as you seem to perceive.

What is my argument do you think?

cheers stew.t.

That’s for them to decide, of course.

I think the “majority rules” thinking of Kachru is based on questioning why BrE and AmeE speakers, in the main, assume that their variants should rule. And we in Nigeria don’t do to bad with our variant of English, even though there are hundreds of languages to choose from. Not all are happy with the staus quo, of course, but we get by.

How would Brits and Americans help themselves to be understood and to understand other variants?

If there’s business to be had, yes. And, yes, I think it’s about time Americans and British people did think about becoming bi-dialectal, at least.

Yes, I know.

Is that what you think an Asian Standard English (ASE), for example, would consist of?

Should he be prevented from doing so? Can you allow or prevent anyone doing so? If so, how?

And regional tongues.

Protect English at all costs? Let only native speakers develop it? I dunno? What Is your argument?

Versions already exist but maybve this will calm the soul of those who ask such questions as yours:

Smith (1992) carried out an experiment using speakers of nine “national varieties” of English - China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Taiwan, the UK and the USA - in order to discover whether “the spread of English is creating greater problems of understanding across the spread of cultures” (Smith, 1992). He concluded that there was no evidence of a breakdown in the functioning of English as an international lingua franca, but that, “interestingly, native speakers (from Britain and the US) were not found to be the most easily understood, nor were they, as subjects, found to be the most able to understand the different varieties of English” (Smith, 1992).

From: Analysing English in a Global Context: A Reader By Anne Burns, Caroline Coffin.

I want to add this that I wrote on another forum:

One poster wrote:

I replied:

The last sentence also goes for this forum.

No his majority rule is flawed in essence because he ignores the simple fact of market and political forces. If we say that Chinese with the biggest population will become the biggest users of English you forget that the Chinese often (or the ones I have met and taught) want to speak English and not an Asian form.
So that leaves a more fragmented fight between the other forms of Asian Englishes.

I don´t know, how would we? as we seem to be doing such a bad job right now.

So it is purely the power of the mighty dollar for you, not an ideology.

Why bother to put forward a theory if you do not wish to debate or support it?

Okay maybe my mistake for leaving a space, but this is the French guy´s theory not the Asian Englishes one. As you have read him I am sure you know this.

But what basis do we determine this on. First you advocate majority rules, now some obscure academic can decide. Maybe the EU, or NATO, or Johnny Depp (he can do accents after all).

But still with a British foundation.

Of course. After all I am a remnant of the British Empire, a dying breed.
And no not all native speakers, we should steal our language back from the bloody Americans, as well.

First I am a little confused with the balance you see between majority rules and versions.
Could you elaborate how this would work, please?

Smiths theory is in part true concerning some native speakers, that they are not easily understood. But this is true of any language.
I think it is the case of what are the needs of the speaker of/listener to English.

So we criticize native speakers for not be communicable, but the many versions should be accepted even if they are likewise hard to understand.

The last point I would like to bring up is the presumption that native speakers of English are in your words not “bi-dialectical”.

I can not understand Ralf or Amy, or Conchita or James P as they speak with a different dialect, or do we all speak the same?
What is the border, limit of your definition of dialect?

Lets think on another point;

“th” and “r” causes problems for many Asian, Spanish, German and Russian speakers of English.

Should I correct their pronunciation at all?
Especially as the Irish do not have a clear “th” sound in their native speaker version.

If all dialects, versions are accepted as understandable to all, and it is just a question of the lack in the listener, then why bother teaching English, correcting English texts.
As in an all embracing versions theory, every variation has no errors.

English is and remains to be a malleable language, but just like any material there may be a breaking point, don´t you think.

I am interested what version of English you were taught, and if your views caused you to rebel so strongly as you do here against this AE or BrE perceived superiority?

The ones you’ve met and taught are a very small part of the whole, I imagine.


well I guess your understanding of the book (read it?) or Asian Englishes is just a small part of the whole.

As is Kuchra´s presumption all Asia supports his theory. His studies were a bit limited, and then extended to the whole continent.

So true I taught a small part of the population, but hell if you both can do it, why not me ; )

Kuchra is too much of a scholar to assume anything like that.

Is that a case of different dialects or only of different accents? And I said I hadn’t met many Brits and Americans who were bi-dialectal, I did not say that bi-dialectal Brits and Yanks do not exist. Many AAVE speakers, for example, are what one might call bilectal or bi-dialectal.

If you are fairly proficient in the British standard English dialect (sociolect, if you prefer) and the Yorkshire dialect, or Cameroon English and Belize English, for example, you can call yourself bi-dialectal.

Which variant/s would you like them to perfect? Which do you wish to teach them? Which do they want to learn?

And why would the Irish need one?

What else would it be a lack of?

Could you point to variants that do?

I’ve not seen it as yet.

We are discussing and not rebeling. Chewing the fat, etc. Are you saying that most British and American standard English speakers do not see their variants as superior, more authentic, valuable, etc? And I was taught Nigerian standard English (NSE) and British Standard English.

What do you mean by “I was taught”? Can a language really be taught? Based on my experience, you can only learn a language and most ESL speakers don’t learn English for the sake of the language. Let’s say you want to learn how to set up your own blog. You find an interesting podcast in English and you listen to it. If you understand the speaker, why would you bother about their accent or “variant of English”? You listen to the recording because you find the information valuable, not because you want to learn a “variant of English”.

As far as I can see, most of the audio recordings available online are produced by US Americans and that’s the reason why most ESL speakers are exposed to American English as opposed to any other “variant of English”. Linguists have little or no influence on what “variant of English” ESL speakers learn.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Three cyclists[YSaerTTEW443543]

What do you mean by “I was taught”? Can a language really be taught?

And why didn’t you put the same idea or question to Stew, here?

Torsten, is the term “English teacher” useless?

I didn’t say that I chose to learn the variants that I mentioned above.

I also know a lot of Chinese students coming to Japan to learn Japanese and I myself stayed in China for many years studying Chinese and I also met a lot of Chinese and Japanese in the US and Europe studying English or other languages. The problem is English has many ‘forms’: American English, British English, etc. Those staying the US think AmE is the standard and those staying in the UK think BrE is. This is most convenient and inevitable for them. But we also cannot forget there ARE people in Singapore, for example, studying SgE and inevitably, too considering that is the standard of their own. The Chinese who “often (or the ones I have met and taught) want to speak English and not an Asian form” are those outside Asia or in a non-English-speaking country where I suppose you met them. BTW, as for myself, since I stayed in Shanghai where a dialectical Chinese is spoken by the local people (far way different from Mandarin) I ended up with finding myself in love with Shanghai dialect and taking it as the sweetest Chinese in the world, willing or not.

I imagined it would be that way.

It all comes down to the question “Why are you learning English?” If you learn English because your parents or teachers told you to, it’s very likely that you won’t pay attention to which standard of English you are learning. As a matter of fact, it’s very likely that you won’t learn much English at all. If, on the other hand, you do your own thinking and you can decide what you want to learn by selecting your learning materials, recourses and people yourself rather than relying on your teachers, parents and friends.

If you want to learn Chinese English or Nigerian English, you will find the means and resources to do so. For example, you can try to find audio recordings in Nigerian English and listen to them. Or you can read newspapers, books and articles that are written in Nigerian or Chinese English. You can also try to meet people who speak Chinese or Nigerian English to hear and copy their accents and vocabulary. Whatever you do, it should be you, the learner who makes the decisions rather than someone else.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A couple walking through the wood[YSaerTTEW443543]

What if your HR department, your boss or your job chooses/demands which standard you will learn, Torsten?

If you are happy with their decision, do as they tell you. If not, you should change the job or become your own boss.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: At the kindergarten[YSaerTTEW443543]

“Molly”, are you suggesting that an HR department, a boss or a company can/will forbid a person to learn more than one variant of English?