Variation and intelligibility in older varieties of English: Implications for newer varieties of English

Thomas Andrew KIRKPATRICK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The development of so many new varieties of English and the increasing role of English as the world’s lingua franca has led many people to worry that the increasing number of varieties will lead to mutual unintelligibility. People worry about ‘the standard’ and assume that any deviation from the standard will lead to the existence of unintelligible varieties of English. In this paper I shall argue that variation is both natural and normal,There is,for example,a wide range of variation both among and between older varieties of English,such as British,American and Australian. I shall illustrate this variation with selected examples from the phonology,vocabulary and syntax of these varieties. The presence of so much variation naturally raises the question: How can speakers of a language that comprises so many different varieties understand each other? In answering this question,I shall argue that an understanding of the different roles that a language can play – in particular its apparently contradictory role as a marker of individual or group identity on the one hand and as a means of wider communication on the other – can help explain this. I shall conclude by considering the implications of this variation in English for English language teaching in Hong Kong. Copyright © 2006 The Language Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalOccasional papers in applied language studies
Volume10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

Citation

Kirkpatrick, A. (2006). Variation and intelligibility in older varieties of English: Implications for newer varieties of English. Occasional papers in applied language studies, 10, 1-20.

Keywords

  • Teacher Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development

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