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PLURAL-tutkimuskeskus

Global English: contact-linguistic, typological, and second-language acquisition perspectives – GlobE

Juhani Klemola

This project forms a part of a research consortium together with teams of scholars from Helsinki and Joensuu. The consortium is funded by the Academy of Finland (2010–2013). The GlobE consortium combines three methodological and theoretical approaches that we believe are essential to a better understanding of the processes that English, in its spoken forms in particular, is undergoing as a world language, viz. contact-linguistic, typological, and second-language acquisition (SLA) research. By combining these three viewpoints we will examine some of the major ongoing developments in English, their sources and manifestations in different kinds of contexts, as well as their typological implications.

The rise of English to a position of a lingua franca in the present-day world has led to the emergence of new varieties that have variously been called New Englishes, World English or International English. Regardless of the term used, one can discern a group of structural and discoursal phenomena that characterise both these new and ‘old’ varieties to varying degrees. These are phenomena that can be investigated under the heading of Global English. They can be found in the use of English in many different contexts by people with differing backgrounds: as a means of communication in international business, politics, science, and education, as well as a daily means of communication for hundreds of millions of people in countries where English has obtained the position of a second official or unofficial language.In addition to these, even more people all over the world learn English as a foreign language as part of their general education.

These developments have not come about without impacting on the English language itself, which is currently undergoing processes of accelerated change, divergence and convergence in several core areas of its grammar and lexis. So far, few of these processes have been adequately described in linguistic research, which has focused on either current trends in the mainstream varieties of English; distinctive traits of the New Englishes in mainly postcolonial contexts; or typologies of standard and non-standard varieties. Because of its mainly historical orientation, research on language contacts, for its part, has hitherto had little to say about ongoing contact situations, although they are likely to affect the typological characteristics of English. What has also been largely lacking is systematic research into the structural characteristics of English when used as a lingua franca by people representing different linguistic backgrounds.

The GlobE Consortium sets out to fill the mentioned gaps in the existing research by combining three methodological and theoretical approaches that we believe are essential to a better understanding of the processes that English, in its spoken forms in particular, is undergoing as a world language, viz. contact-linguistic, typological, and second-language acquisition (SLA) research. By combining these three viewpoints we will examine some of the major ongoing developments in English, their sources and manifestations in different kinds of contexts, as well as their typological implications. This we will achieve by conducting corpus-based comparisons between selected established, or standard, L1 varieties and their non-standard varieties, on the one hand, and these and the new L2 varieties of English, including lingua franca English, on the other. Our particular focus will be on major morphosyntactic and discoursal phenomena common to the uses of English in both L1 and L2 contexts and the major contact-linguistic, typological, and SLA-based factors explaining them.

 
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Ylläpito:
Muutettu: 9.12.2011 11.37 Muokkaa

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